The 12th Annual Belize Chocolate Festival
With the 12th annual Belize chocolate festival running from May 24 to 26, 2019, we think this is a good time to talk about one of our favourite indulgences…
Sumptuous treat, guilty pleasure, or “Food of the Gods” to the ancient Maya, chocolate means many things to many people, but we’d be hard-pressed to find one person who doesn’t adore this uniquely satisfying taste sensation.
Which helps explain why a southern Belize chocolate festival has been interesting people from around the world, and why many visitors to Chaa Creek are amazed and delighted to learn that they are standing on the hallowed ground where the ancient Maya bred cacao, and chocolate’s rise to world domination began.
You can find out more about chocolate’s role in Belize in earlier posts here, and by visiting the Chaa Creek website. And to celebrate the Belize Chocolate Festival 2019, here are a few more fun facts – including the welcome news that chocolate is actually a vegetable:
Chocolate is made from cacao, produced from the seeds of the fruit of the Theobroma cacao tree, native to Mexico, Central and northern South America, and where it has been produced since at least 1200 BC.
Fun facts about Cocoa:
- Most cocoa now comes from Africa, especially the Ivory Coast and Ghana, followed by Indonesia
- Global retail sales of chocolate were $USD 98.2 billion in 2016
- World cocoa production in 2018 was 4.59 million tons, with 3.5 million tons produced in Africa
- Belize produces about 150 tons, 70% of which is exported to craft chocolate makers in the US and EU
- The Netherlands is still the world’s main cacao bean processor
- It takes about 400 cacao beans to make a pound of chocolate
- While cacao trees can live for 200 years, they only produce viable beans for 25 years
The Swiss consume more chocolate than anyone – with per capita consumption of 8.8 kilograms in 2017. The USA came in at 19th that year with 4.4 kg per person.
- The Swiss invented milk chocolate, while the British firm Cadbury’s made the first chocolate bar
- Chocolate is actually a vegetable. Sort of. The Theobroma cacao tree is in the same family as okra and cotton, Malvaceae, technically making it a vegetable. Makes you feel good, doesn’t it?
Our readers who are in Belize can head down to Punta Gorda in southern Belize where the Belize Chocolate Festival kicks off on Friday night, May 24, peaks on Saturday with all things chocolate on display, and ends with a family fun day at – fittingly enough – the ancient Maya temple at Nim Li Punit, with cultural performances including the Deer Dance.
For those of you unfortunately not in Belize, you can join the celebrations by enjoying some chocolate at home while visiting www.chaacreek.com and thinking about how great it would be to visit the heartland of chocolate during a Chaa Creek vacation. Then come on down, where you can walk among cacao trees, see chocolate made, savour a Maya hot chocolate drink as it has been made for thousands of years, and even find yourself enveloped in a chocolate wrap at the Hilltop Spa.
And then have some more chocolate. After all, it is a vegetable…