What’s pathetic is that I’m just talking about my own YARD. I went to get my clothes off the line and check on the status of my bananas growing on the tree. They sure do take a long time! Then I noticed on the ground CASHEWS!!!! Wow. You’d think I’d clue in after a month. I look up, sure enough, big ol cashew tree. Lotsa fruit hanging from it. Reminds me of the aloe…when I got a bad sunburn a few weeks ago I would’ve killed for some aloe. Over a week later I’m walking out the gate and notice there’s a little bunch of it growing RIGHT THERE. Is it obvious I don’t pay attention to detail?
Well, I DO know this. You can’t eat those cashews because they have this poisonous substance on the shell and on the seed itself. They have to be steamed or processed in a certain way before they’re safe to eat. The substance is called urushiol and is in the same family as poison ivy. So I looked up about eating the fruit. Yeah…not so great either.
You’re supposed to put salt on it to drain the water out, as it is full of it. Then they said to cut it into pieces so you can’t tell that it’s real stringy. It certainly doesn’t smell very good and I have no intention of trying it…but it sure is pretty to look at! Too bad I can’t eat the cashews…I love those things. Guess there’s a reason they cost an arm and a leg.
Anyway, I did make it out to the cacao farm and did the 2 1/2 hour tour which was really nice. They aren’t harvesting at the moment but we did do a tasting and took a nice walk through the farm. VERY steep hills here. I hadn’t even been over to that side of the street yet. What a loser I am.
On the walk up and back down I saw at least 6 poison dart frogs which are always cool. One was REALLY chunky too and of course, my camera can’t EVER figure out what it’s taking a picture of with these things. I don’t think I’ve gotten a single non-blurry picture of one EVER. So here’s a blurry green one and a GOOD red one. And I’ll throw in a spider for good measure too.
Once up the hill, we were treated to a view of a lifetime! And a breeze! It sure was beautiful up there. I could’ve stayed all day.
We were given four different chocolates to taste…all from different growers. The weird thing was that I thought they were infused with certain flavors but apparently they weren’t. And they all tasted very different from one another. It just depends on the soil and what other kinds of trees are growing around the cacao which give it that particular flavor. He compared it to wine tasting. We snapped the piece in two first to hear how it broke. We looked at the break and what it looked like. We smelled it and then let it melt on our tongues, picking up different flavors all throughout the process. It was pretty neat.
Then we were given some options on mixing the small pieces of chocolate with spices and herbs and even mango that we picked up on the trail.
There was sea salt, pepper, curry, cinnamon, cayenne and another one I can’t remember. Then there was mint, basil, lemongrass, garlic, thyme and some others. My favorite was the cinnamon and mango. It tasted like a peach cobbler. Oh, we also got a shot glass of very hot liquid chocolate that was very spicy. I wasn’t crazy about it.
Needless to say, I was pretty stuffed after all of that. He took us down to the processing room, which was actually beneath his house. He talked about having to improvise on the grinding methods with things he could find locally at the hardware store. Then he used a blower to get rid of the shell from the cacao seed after it had been roasted and ground. It was pretty neat. We were able to taste some of the chocolate being mixed as well.
So that was pretty much my day. I want to go back up that hill again and look for the frogs…maybe tomorrow. And I suppose I should look UP and see what’s in the trees, like sloths. I guess I take it for granted that I work with them so it’s not as fascinating as it used to be when I’d come here on vacation. And who knows what’ll turn up in my yard next!?!