DEAR SEEKERS, YOU ARE A CACAO BEAN,
Mmmmm. Just saying the word makes me smile (and my husband cringe).
While contemplating the beauty of this natural treat, I had an epiphany.
Chocolate is so much more than bliss in my mouth. More than an antioxidant-rich dessert. It’s even more than a weight-loss regimen. You heard me right. Breaking news: People who consume chocolate on a regular basis are more slender than those who don’t.
Here’s the link. Read it and grin.
Anyhoo, while it’s obvious to me that chocolate is a healthy, natural part of my daily diet, I recently realized there was more I could learn from chocolate.
A few months ago I was able to tag along when my husband and his crew went to Costa Rica to film a fishing show. While the men worked…I’m a little embarrassed to say, but a friend and I completely lounged around. By the pool. Reading. We were also blessed to be able to go on a few tours.
One of the tours was to a nearby finca. A Costa Rican farm. The tour included all sorts of natural herbs and fruits that grow in Costa Rica like pineapple, garlic and …drumroll…chocolate trees!
That’s right, my Seekerville friends. Chocolate actually grows on a tree. The lovely owners of the finca took us through the process of how chocolate is made and it struck me recently that I, as a writer, am really a cacao bean.
RAW and HIDDEN
Cacao beans nestle inside these big pod-like things that hang off the tree. When you break the pods open, the beans are covered with a white, gooey substance and have a fruity scent. Totally un-chocolatey. Writers are like this when we begin our journey. We hide our talents and dreams, even our possibilities, as we grow in our little writer pod. And then one day— KABAM— God or circumstance or our own will cracks that pod open and out we tumble. White, mushy lumps that look nothing like the writer we’re sure we’re destined to be.
BRING on the HEAT
After being freed from the pod, the cacao beans are put in a shallow box where, exposed to heat, they become mushy. At this point the chocolate ferments. This is kind of like when we writers get lost in our world of new writing. You know, that place where the story is fresh (maybe we haven’t learned the “rules” yet) and we keep writing and writing and it feels awesome.
When the fermentation has finished, the cacao beans are spread out on wooden racks (at least in Costa Rica). Beneath a warm sun, the leaf-covered beans dry. While the beans are drying, all the mushy stuff (including worms and insects) drop off them. About a week passes and finally, the rich scent of chocolate is in the air. At some point, a writer must get laid out to dry a bit. To toughen up and harden. I think a valuable critique group helps dry us up and get us ready for what comes next…
The chocolate is ground into shavings. Put through a crushing machine. Can anyone say rejections? Edits? Ouch!.
But guess what? After the crushing, the chocolate is ready for use. Its aromatic flavors are in the air. All it needs is a little sugar and milk. (Contest finals, Compliments…Contracts) Once the tour ended, our kind hosts brought my friend and I to a table set with fresh fruit from the farm and bowls of warm just-made chocolate sauce. Talk about delicious!
*disclaimer* This post is how I remember the tour and I can’t vouch for accuracy in my description or terms. For a more detailed, professional perspective on how chocolate is made, check out this cool site on All Chocolate.
So where are you in your chocolate phase? What natural processes remind you of the life of a writer? How does it inspire you?
Jessica Nelson, in keeping with her romantic inclinations, married two days after she graduated high school. She believes romance happens every day, and thinks the greatest, most intense romance comes from a God who woos people to himself with passionate tenderness. When Jessica is not chasing her three beautiful, wild little boys around the living room, she can be found staring into space as she plots her next story. Or she might be daydreaming about a raspberry mocha from Starbucks. Or thinking about what kind of chocolate she should have for dinner that night. She could be thinking of any number of things, really. One thing is for certain, she is blessed with a wonderful family and a lovely life.
Today Jessica has two treats for Seekerville commenters! Chocolate and a copy of her April Love Inspired Historical release which garnered 4.5 Stars from Romantic Times Book Reviews. (Check out the trailer here.) Two winners will be announced in the Weekend Edition.