I can’t quite pinpoint the exact point in time when I got into chocolate. I guess I’ve always had a thing for it. It’s not like I ever consistently overindulged in it. I even recall asking my former boyfriend to hide the supplies of Côte d’Ôr (a Belgian supermarket brand) he kept. Something inside me knew there was something better out there. Sure enough, a few years later, in California, a friend showed me how to make dark chocolate from roasted cacao beans, simply on his kitchen counter. That day, I stopped eating chocolate, and actually started savoring it. (Thanks Rick!) Something had bitten me, there was no turning back.
Still in California, I started buying quality chocolate bars and would taste them informally with friends. Soon, I was traveling with a bag full of chocolate. To new as well as old friends, I turned into the chocolate lady overnight. I became delighted not only with the way tasting chocolate became a sensory adventure, but also with the looks on people’s (blindfolded) faces as I would feed them chunks of chocolate. Even if they – like me – had only ever had mediocre chocolate before, it’s as if their bodies remembered: “aah! this is cacao!” And like me, they knew they wouldn’t go back.
My passion for cacao is still young. I am not a so-called supertaster, nor do I aim to become one. I simply want to explore the depths and nuances of my body’s capacity for pleasure. Eating is what we do to stay strong, alive, healthy, happy and vibrant. In my world, meals are poems and paintings and musical compositions all rolled into one. If anything, I hope to be a sensual cartographer, documenting the adventure of tasting chocolate in any form that feels suited, and sharing it all with you.
I don’t want to encourage you to eat more chocolate. I want to encourage you to eat less chocolate, better chocolate, and to eat it differently.
I dream of various kinds of revolutions. But all of them have our bodies in common. Our choices can change the world, and choices reside in conscious bodies. Minds, hearts and guts! I don’t want to encourage you to eat more chocolate. I want to encourage you to eat less chocolate, better chocolate, and to eat it differently. I want to encourage you to reclaim your senses from the industries that want to turn us all into Pavlov’s dogs. I want to invite you to connect with your food the way you would with a precious lover. Cacao, with all of its subtly intoxicating qualities, is the earth’s quintessential reminder that eating ought to be a sensual act, an act of communing with wild nature, an act that involves all of your senses and is deserving of your full attention.
Eating, in essence, is about becoming one with the world around us, taking the world in. That is why sustainability, care for earth and care for people, cannot be separated from quality chocolate. Eating chocolate becomes a lot less joyfull to me when I know a piece of old growth forest had to be cut down to grow the cacao for my luxurious treat. Or that farmers are underpaid, or children exploited, land depleted.
I am interested to explore how a different way of working with cacao can help us deal with the challenges that climate change, pollution and deforestation are throwing in our laps at increasing speed.
Cacao is just one of my muses. But currently, her light is shining brightly, so I’ve decided to follow it for a while. During my time in Belgium, I introduced cacao and chocolate tasting to foodies and coffee people in Antwerp. But the itch to see cacao grow became too intense to ignore. That’s why I flew to the other side of the world to learn more about cacao growing, harvesting and processing and about chocolate making from one of my favorite, upcoming artisan chocolate makers, Madre Chocolate, situated in Hawaii. I was in Hawaii in September-December 2012, and recently moved to the Big Island of Hawaii, where I am living now with my husband!
Where ever you are in the world, I’d love to connect and hear your ideas, so get in touch!
Much love, Sara