The Cacao Ball: A Millennial Tradition
The way in which chocolate is enjoyed in Latin America has kept alive, and this ancestral tradition is still part of our social and familial interaction.
Cacao beans, once fermented and sun-dried for a couple of weeks, are roasted at low temperatures until reaching the right color and aroma. As the shells that cover the cacao bean start to loosen, the beans are placed in a wooden basin, where they are cooled and shaken. The rest of the wheels are loosened by the constant shaking and the blowing of the operator.
Once the shells are gone, the warm beans are placed in a mortar where the grind is refined. Different cultures have made of this process a scenic art, accompanied by singing that speak of the traditions that surround cacao. During the grinding process sugar, honey, orange peel, ginger, vanilla, different kinds of hot peppers and others ingredients are added.
When the cacao paste and the added ingredients have reached the right consistency, the result is shaped into spheres that are wrapped in banana leafs. In order to prepare a cup of hot chocolate, a portion of the cacao ball is mixed with water or milk and is taken to a slow boil until it thickens.
This way of preparing and drinking chocolate has been documented for over 3.000 years by different cultures stretching from Mexico all the way to Peru and has been kept as a living tradition.
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