Believe it or not, this is not my first time writing about chocolate. Why you may ask? Easy, because chocolate is fascinating! I mean obviously, like most of the planet, I adore consuming gobs and gobs of chocolate in all its myriad forms. Aside from liking chocolate for the obvious, delicious reasons I find the actual production of chocolate (much like the coffee bean) quite incredible.
Last year at this time, before the world did an oopsie, I had the pleasure of travelling to Belize in Central America. Dubbed the “Cradle of Chocolate”, many believe chocolate was first used in Belize by the Mayans. Discovering this, I knew I would have to visit a chocolate farm (or three!) during my travels. The experience, as you can imagine, was unforgettable. I saw the beautiful cacao trees in all their glory and learnt the full extent of what goes into extracting the “food of the gods”.
I often daydream about the Mayans who experimented with cacao pods, on the brink of discovering something life changing, what was going through their minds at this time? Shall we eat the white flesh inside? Sure, it tastes pretty good. Shall we eat the seeds? No…unless…first we ferment them, then dry them out, then roast them and then pulverize them on this stone until they become a liquid…then we’ll add honey, spices and hot water so we can drink it! Well, I’m not sure how or why it went down but I am certainly glad the Mayans were curious because they gave us chocolate and specifically a hot drinking chocolate. And that’s not to say the ancient Mayans of Belize were the only ones enjoying this new found elixir but they were among the first.
Besides it’s good to learn things from your neighbours, pick up their tips and tricks. After all, great minds think alike. Case in point, I lived in Vancouver for many years before making the move to neighbouring Squamish. When I was a Vancouver resident, I really enjoyed partaking of all the sumptuous chocolate creations that were produced for Vancouver’s Hot Chocolate Festival. A festival of chocolate? Yes please! However, after landing a job at the Caffe I realized that Squamish had no festival of chocolate. What?!? With all the amazing cafes and bakeries in town I thought, “how can this be?” and “how can I rectify this unfortunate oversight??”. I had mentioned the idea to people over the years (my amazing boss Yvonne is always up for an adventure!) but nothing ever came it. But last year, it was a doozie and this one will be a bit of the same so, I decided, I decided it had to happen this year. Because we deserve it! Couldn’t we all use a little more chocolate in our lives? Couldn’t we all use a little excitement, something to look forward to, a dose of deliciousness, something to mark the days in a new way?? I decided to be brave and ask the other cafes in Squamish if they wanted to bring all the chocolate goodness to our fair town. To my surprise and delight they responded with a resounding YES!
So here we are just days away from the inaugural Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Hot Chocolate Festival and I couldn’t be more thrilled! I am so thankful to 1914 Coffee Co., Chatterbox Cafe, Cloudburst Cafe, Counterpart Coffee, Green Moustache, Green Olive Market and Cafe, RideHub Cafe, Basecamp Café at the Sea to Sky Gondola, Sunflower Bakery and Café, The Crabapple Café, The Ledge and Zephyr Café. Without them this February would be a lot less sweet.
Chocolate is calling my name and I will answer…I will go for the gold and attempt to try alllllll the unique hot chocolate creations that are being offered. How about you?