The heart of cacao farming country Comalcalco, Tabasco México
In Mexico, cacao beans are coarsely ground into powder or a paste and used in a variety of beverages. The different preparations usually have ground corn and spices. Cacao beans are rarely ground fine enough for truffles or for molding into bars. Though cacao use originated in Mexico, the art and technology for making fine chocolate was developed in Europe and rarely makes it back to the native land that grows it. Giving people a way to grind their cacao for use with molds can empower their communities with chocolate art as a means to preserve their culture. I intend to honor cultural legacies and future possibilities, understanding them as a continuum and not as a contradiction.
On our 1st trip, we donated a thermoforming machine to the co-op Orgánicos de la Chontalpa. They work with hundreds of small farmers in the region to help them cultivate high quality cacao.
Demonstrating how to make culturally inspired custom molds with their new thermoforming machine.
On our 2nd trip, I taught a 2 day truffle making workshop.
We also donated a melanger conching machine. It is small scale but they said it revolutionized their chocolate making. They were finally able to grind cacao beans fine enough for smooth chocolates!
Making polvillo truffles. We developed a recipe using their traditional cacao and corn beverage.
Sharing some tips for extending the shelf life of truffles.
The Mexican cacao industry faces a production crisis. Today, 70% of the cacao consumed in Mexico is imported. During the last decade, there has been a 44% decrease in cacao production, which has caused deforestation in Tabasco and Chiapas. The remaining cacao sites at risk of deforestation are rainforests that are rich with biological diversity. It would be a real shame to lose the ancient tradition of cacao cultivation in the land where cacao is native.