I like chocolate and I thought I knew a lot about chocolate.  It’s not just because I eat chocolate and get up in the middle of night and fix cocoa. No, it’s more basic than that.  I’ve bought cocoa beans in the public market in Tamazunchale. And I followed the instructions the little old lady gave me.  I toasted them in a cast iron frying pan, peeled the skin off, ground the bean and made incredible bitter cocoa powder.  That’s  really basic chocolate knowledge.  I’ve picked cocoa pods off the tree in Guerrero, split them open, and seen the white pulp covering the white beans layered inside.  And that little woman in the market told me the beans have to dry out and then they turn dark brown.  So I always believed that.

But they don’t dry the seeds.  The seeds have to ferment for seven days under fairly strict conditions to take on that dark brown color and become what we know as cocoa.  I just found that out.  Chocolate is a fermented food.  I don’t know why that surprised me or why I like the idea so much.  But there it is.  The most delicious food in the world and once again we have bacteria to thank for it!


About Karen Hopkins

Karen Hopkins (1949-) was born in Los Angeles and raised in Martinez, California. At seventeen she moved to Talcahuano, Chile. After completing her university degree she worked in London, England for Pan American Airlines and traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East, and India. For twenty-six years Karen taught Spanish and English as a Second Language in a variety of settings including a private school in Panama, the "most remote school in the United States" in Ticaboo, Utah, the Navajo Reservation, and a teacher exchange in Hermosillo, Mexico. Karen and her husband traveled extensively throughout Mexico and Central America, spending many summers in the highlands of Chiapas and Guatemala . Karen currently lives in Southern Arizona, near the Mexican border.
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