How to Cacao in Toledo
Cacao is more than chocolate; it is a way of life for many Maya families in the southern district of Toledo. The cultivation and processing of cacao is a family tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation, often with little changes made to the ancient practice.
In honor of this exquisite pod of powerful flavor, the first Toledo Cacao Festival was held in 2007 in Punta Gorda Town, and a few years ago its name was changed to the Chocolate Festival of Belize. It is celebrated each year on the same Commonwealth Day weekend, which this year falls over the weekend of May 20th. This delicious festival grows larger each year and attracts hundreds of visitors from around Belize as well as overseas.
Guests enjoy a night of socializing while sampling a wide variety of chocolate delicacies along with gourmet wines. Lively music sets the stage for a great night of indulging and dancing off some of those chocolate calories! This year Belizean boutique chocolate makers – Kakaw, Goss Chocolate, Cotton Tree Chocolate, and Ixcacao will be showcasing their amazing chocolates. Have you ever tried chocolate with bacon? Or better yet, chocolate laced with habanero pepper? Oh, so many to choose from…just say no to the diet!
The following day is the Taste of Toledo street fair, held on Front Street in Punta Gorda town which is closed to traffic during the fair. Cultural displays and areas showcasing Toledo’s five main ethnic groups: Kriol, Maya, Garifuna, Mestizo and East Indian are featured at the event.
Attendees are immersed within the art, food and music from each culture. With a bounty of booths to explore, shopping for local crafts and unique products are many. Some of my favorite items include cacao-based body care products, lotions, bath scrubs and soaps. Other booths vary from demonstrating the lengthy process cacao goes through before it’s a chocolate bar to impressive local non-profits such as the Drums Not Guns program that mentors young children through the art of drumming.
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