30x40" Mounted Archival Plant Portrait: Cacao
Inside the Fruit of Theobroma Cacao, Baltimori, Peru 2019
Archival digital photograph on hot press cotton paper mounted on aluminum
This is a portrait of the inside of a cacao pod. It is a less common experience to open the cacao pod and taste the fruit within. The entire seed with its fruit is edible and full of minerals, vitamins and energy. It is more common to know that the cacao nibs, the seeds of the fruit, are roasted to make chocolate. Chocolate is another global, economic relationship we have with the natural world.
This tree grows in the understory of the rainforest, it is one of the economic plants that requires less light and is naturally resilient as overstory trees are frequently dropping their branches on top of these understory plants.
People who are in the chocolate industry say that they can taste the fruit of the cacao and know what the flavor of the chocolate will be. Ultimately, the fruit is fermented with the seeds, the seeds dried and then roasted, shelled and made into pure chocolate.
One of my favorite delicacies of the tropics is cutting open a cacao pod to reveal a soft, wet, white fruit and then scooping it into my mouth it is one of the foods that keeps me going in heat and humidity when I often do not feel like eating. It amazes me that the seed of this fruit has made it across the globe and now the raw cacao is said to have tremendous health benefits, including antioxidants. I drink raw cacao in my coffee in the morning along with coconut oil and other ingredients to form a mixture said to promote the remembrance of dreams.
Once I brought a bag of roasted cacao nibs from El Salvador back to share with a class I was teaching. The students were between the ages of 9 and 10 and studying about currency. We talked about the Mayans using the bean as a currency and played a game. Their anticipation to eat the beans were rising and when the game concluded they were permitted to eat their roasted "chocolate" beans and almost simultaneously a collective "ewwwhhh" could be heard.