In Belize, learn where chocolate comes from

The following article appeared on DALLASNEWS.COM

PUNTA GORDA TOWN, Toledo District, Belize — A sweet, pungent and slightly tangy scent drifts upward to the palm-thatched patio, mixing with the salty sea breeze here at the Chocolate Center of the Universe, otherwise known as Cotton Tree Chocolate.

I contemplate the iced mocha melting on my tongue, and my newly discriminating olfactory can now discern an extra edge: Toledo has taught me why chocolate tastes and smells the way it does.

Cacao is the Toledo District’s biggest export, and I’ve seen it now in all stages of production. A week before, I went to stay in a Mayan village through the Toledo Ecotourism Association’s guest house program, and I took a tour of Reyes Chun’s cacao farm in San Antonio Village. Hiking with Reyes and his boys down a footpath through the jungle, I saw the football-size pods hanging from the trunks of the trees. Reyes whacked at one with a machete and chopped it in half, handing it to me to taste the tangy-sweet, almost cottony flesh around the seeds. It tasted nothing like chocolate.

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