The year 2002 changed my life. I was nursing twins and preparing to go back to college. My other three children were busy as ever with church and school, and my husband taught computer classes for a university as well as had a full time job (having twins isn’t cheap) and was doing grad school. Life was absolutely crazy in our home. To find peace I found myself one day reading online, and I came across a couple of New York Times articles written that year on baking cocoa. I thought, “I don’t drink coffee, alcohol, or tea, but I REALLY enjoy hot chocolate–heck, chocolate anything (just about).” I realized that I was an extreme cocoa novice. I only knew of a couple brands: Hershey, Saco, and Nestle. I focused more deeply on the author’s words.
When we think of cocoa, we think of this….
Thoughts flashed in my head about some of the shows I had seen on TV while on pregnancy bed rest. I recalled wine connoisseurs, knowing what different wines taste like and different distinct nuances. Specialists in many foods exist. I had never heard of a cocoa specialist or of such variation in cocoas. I was intrigued.
I read the articles over and over. “I, too, could do this,” I decided excitedly. I could try different types of cocoa and see what on earth this article was talking about and see what I was missing. Was there really that much difference in the various types? I was about to find out.
There were 15 brands of cocoa that the author had described and those descriptions were heavy-laden with “smooth flavor,” “intense chocolate flavor,” and “coffee-like flavor.” The colors were also discussed, being anything from “light color” to “beautiful dark color.” I felt rather stupid. I’d never imagined such. Cocoa was cocoa was cocoa. From the article, I felt a hidden lust and started a search on the internet to find these different ones and see what they tasted like for myself.
The hunting was more like a needle in a haystack than the haystack itself. What degree of cocoa butter was in it? 10/12? 22/24? Was this a “breakfast cocoa?” Was it Dutch processed? Was it natural? After reading up more and learning how these things all fit in, I finally purchased several (after finding the least expensive version–they really vary store to store big time on price!). Droste, Bensdorp, Schokinag, Scharffen Berger, Nestle, Ghirardelli, Saco, Valrhona, Guittard, and Hershey’s made it to my kitchen counter. I can’t even describe how amazed and overwhelmed I felt! There I was standing in my kitchen, amazed, saying to myself, “Where to start, Melanee?” (Yes, I do talk to myself quite often, thank you.)
I went back to the basic idea that I had at the beginning–hot cocoa. Gratefully, it was an awesome journey to taste and savor and really mindfully focus on each and every sip. Heaven was in my fingertips and blissfully gliding across my tongue. I talked my husband’s ear off that week. He also was forced to taste these as I’d excitedly point out, “Now, see how this one is….” I even called my girlfriends and tried ever so desperately to get them to see the significance of what I was doing and how amazing it was!
I keep at least five varieties of cocoa in my home now. My eyes were sooo opened. Now if I see a bulk bin of cocoa for sale, I find out what kind–not satisfied with the mere basic title of “cocoa” or “baking cocoa” for I know there is so much more under that simple description. The name tells a great deal.
Bulk cocoa storage.
The biggest “Aha Moment” that evolved from all of this: Try new varieties of lots of things as there could be something hiding that I had never tried and never would have noticed. The routine and everyday don’t fit for me as the immediate choice after this experience. I have to try things and research things before I pick favorites and standards for my home. By the way, this is when my desire to try different types of tomatoes began, and I started my passion for tomatoes!
(Oh, and just for the note, I don’t share my favorites. I let others enjoy the journey and find THEIR favorites.)
For further reading: This article by Regina Schrambling.
You can also find Moopsee at Yahoo’s Canning2.
Interested in contributing a guest post to the Farm Bell blog? Read information here for Farm Bell blog submissions.
Want to subscribe to the Farm Bell blog? Go here.