Saturday, April 19, 2008
From Cacao to Morning Cocoa
I was reflecting on the cacao nibs drying in my oven (on pilot light) and the whole process, from the raw fruit, through fermentation, drying, etc. to the point of chocolate or cocoa. Our understanding of how to prepare all sorts of produce is handed down from generation to generation, everything from making cheese to wine or coffee. But, how did it all start? Current teaching would have us believe it was pure chance, a process of trial and error, and random discoveries, moving slowly through thousands of years of human technological evolution, like the rest of our supposed history from drifting protoplasm to modern man.
I hope most Christians would tend to question that theory or begin to, since God's Word has another version of our accumulated understanding. There we learn that God is the source of wisdom and knowledge, in the physical world as well as the spiritual. While Adam and Eve walked in the garden with their Creator, I'm sure He was explaining the uses of and methods of caring for and preparing all of what He had planted. I can imagine their curiosity as they walked with their Lord in his beautiful garden. We are told, "The land produced vegetation..." (Genesis 1:12) but, "the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden" (Gen. 2:8) There is a difference. Wilderness grows as it will, but "God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." (Vs. 15) And, we know from the following verses that God walked with them and talked to them in the Garden.
Further, the prophet Isaiah tells us directly where agricultural knowledge comes from. It is such a beautiful passage, I'm going to quote the whole thing (almost). Isaiah 28:23-29:
Listen and hear my voice;
pay attention and hear what I say.
When a farmer plows for planting, does he
Does he keep on breaking up and
harrowing the soil?
When he has leveled the surface,
does he not sow caraway and scatter
Does he not plant wheat in its place,
barley in its plot,
and spelt in its field?
His God instructs him
and teaches him the right way.
Caraway is not threshed with a scythe,
nor is a cartwheel rolled over cumin;
caraway is beaten out with a rod,
and cumin with a stick.
Grain must be ground to make bread....
All this also comes from the Lord Almighty,
wonderful in counsel and magnificent in
Back to the cacao, all this considering was brought on by a recent cooking blog post about a new way of preparing the fruit using a food dehydrator, skipping the fermentation and roasting processes. I thought, hey this is great, short and simple. Went out (well really it was Craig's list) got a food dehydrator and gave it a try. Guess what? Used up a lot of electricity and didn't get the job done. Sometimes the old ways are better.
Though the different techniques employed for utilizing produce may have changed, the processes are pretty much the same today. i.e. instead of fermenting cacao under palm or banana leaves outdoors, it is more convenient for me to use a pasta pot in a gas oven with pilot light, or for a factory to use a big mechanized operation to deal in quantity. And, isn't it interesting that processing plants remove the cocoa butter for other uses, then add in milk products to achieve that same delicious unctuousness that is part of the chocolate experience. I like mine the way it comes - non dairy. Grind the roasted pods and put in my French Press, add hot water. Voila!
a cacao pod opened
One of my Bible Commentaries compares the verses in Isaiah to the way God created people so different from one another, and how everyone should be treated differently as well, with understanding and respect for their individuality and uniqueness.