On a day when many people around the world are celebrating Easter, and lots of kids are hunting for eggs and tearing into chocolate bunnies (I was always a fan of biting off the ears first), I came across this story about where chocolate comes from — cacao — and why it’s an important crop globally.
The story is penned by Simran Sethi for G Adventures, one of my favorite travel blogs (and one for which I write for as well!)
Where is the chocolate?
That was my first thought as I entered into a lush, dense forest in Ecuador where cacao — the pod-shaped fruit that becomes cocoa and chocolate — thrives. Chocolate has been my lifelong culinary companion: from birthday cakes and expressions of love to balms for heartbreak. But despite this connection, I couldn’t find my favoured food in nature, mainly because I had never considered its origin beyond the grocery store. There I stood in the chocolate forest, surrounded by towering trees full of large, multicoloured fruits, but I was lost. Was it a sap? A substance extracted from bark? Did the clusters of delicate blossoms that grew right out of the trunks of the cacao trees, at least smell like cocoa?
The answer to all of those questions, I soon learned, was no.
Chocolate comes from the seeds of the cacao fruit, held within rounded and oblong pods ranging in colour from bright yellow to deep purple. Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist who created the naming system used to classify life forms, included cacao in the mallow family of flowering plants along with okra and cotton and called it Theobroma cacao: “food of the gods.”
I couldn’t agree more.
You can also check out my stories at G Adventures if you like.