Native to the jungles of Belize, the cacao bean has been cultivated and consumed by the Mayan people for thousands of years for its energizing and medicinal properties. To begin exploring this important part of the country’s culinary heritage, make your way to the Lamanai Chocolate Cabana in Belmopan, the inland capital city of Belize.
Meet your hosts, two indigenous Maya women, who will explain the history of chocolate in Belize and how it has been an important part of local culture since ancient times. Watch as they roast locally grown, raw cacao beans on a traditional ‘kamal’ stove to release the flavor and then crush the beans by hand using a thousand-year-old grinding stone.
Next comes the winnowing process, where fragments of the bean shells are extracted using a fan. Once all the shells are removed, beans are ground into a thick, fragrant paste using the stone. Finally, this paste is dissolved in water and combined with cream and sugar to make a delicious, sweet chocolate using only three high-quality, organic ingredients. After tasting this delicious Belizean specialty, you’ll never look at chocolate the same way again!