For many years I have been a chocolate devotee. Fortunately, as I have aged, I have learned the deeper layers to this amazing plant ally. What started as a young addiction to over-sugared Cadbury eggs has now turned into a full-fledged reverence for the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao).
I remember telling friends in San Francisco, just before my official departure after 7 years of city-livin’, that I was — at some point — going to Central America to pay homage to this lovely plant that I had partaken of so much. It’s the least I could do. What I didn’t know is that it would take me about 2 years after that statement to do so. Here’s a rather lengthy (though picture-packed) blog on my trip to Panama (and later Costa Rica).
While in Panama, I met with a woman there and processed cacao beans that she had fermented. We ground them into a fine powder to make a hot drink with (real hot cocoa). Then, in Pavones, Costa Rica, while staying with Lily at Mira Olas for about a month, I was able to bond with her cacao trees. She had a few that were bearing a good bit of fruit. I harvested the pods, fermented the fruit, and dried them in the sun on sheets of metal. I also sat with the trees during that time and thanked them profusely for their abundant offerings to me and this world. What an honor to sit with these trees that look like the archetypal divine mother.
I just love this tree. The mythology around the cacao plant and its uses are also quite profound. An indigenous tribe (the Bribri) on the eastern coast of southern Costa Rica has a very elegant mythology that tells of how the goddess Sibu turned into the cacao tree and resides there. Read about it here. There is even someone offering cacao ceremonies in San Marcos on Lake Atitlan in Western Guatamala.
The tree bears fruit and flowers at the same time, which is quite amazing. The small, dainty flowers are pollinated by gnat-like flies and sometimes bats. If they are not pollinated in 24 hours, they die. More information on the cacao tree here.
Ok, ok, ok — the mole sauce. Are you ready!? This is spin on the traditional Mexican recipe. I basically served this sauce over a pile of sauteed zucchini and chicken. And, let me tell you — delicious!!!! However, there are many ways to add this to your meal — be creative!
Lindsay’s Holy Mole
Enough sauce to serve 4
1 Tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (pwdr)
1/2 teaspoon paprika (pwdr)
1/2 teaspoon cumin (pwdr)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (pwdr)
1/2 cup chicken stock or bone broth (lessen salt in recipe if you use store-bought chicken stock)
1 8 oz can of tomatoes (sauce or diced tomatoes or start from scratch and use whole tomatoes chopped)
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (semisweet, fair trade!)
1 Tablespoon almond butter or peanut butter
1/2 Tablespoon ground and roasted sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, or pumpkin (pepita) seeds (chose 1 or 2!)
In a skillet or pan, pour the oil. Add all the spices and garlic and simmer until fragrant. Add the chocolate and melt. Add the chicken stock and stir and integrate all ingredients. Add tomatoes and nut butter and cook well. If you used chunky or diced tomatoes, put all this into a blender and puree. Put back in skillet and lightly warm. Add the ground seeds and enjoy!