Caring Cacao is a nurturing and sweet Forest Friend that enjoys facilitating cacao ceremonies for special occasions. Caring Cacao wears a Peruvian patterned apron overflowing with cacao pods and beans, and loves explaining the difference between raw and roasted beans. Caring Cacao enjoys eating chocolate chip cookies made with cocoa and drinking traditional hot cacao.
Caring Cacao’s Family: Caring Cacao, Theobroma cacao, is a small evergreen tree native to Central and South America that grows between 13-26 feet tall. The genus Theobroma, Greek for “food of the gods” – from theos meaning “god,” and broma meaning “food,” contains 22 species. Cacao, which comes from the Nahuatl word cacahuatl, is a member of the enormous Malvaceae (Mallow) family that has 243 genera including baobab, hibiscus, cotton and kola, to name just a few.
Growing Climate: Rainforests
- Species: Theobroma cacao (Sacred cacao)
- Genus: Theobroma (Cacao)
- Family: Malvaceae (Mallow family)
The Maya believed that kakaw (cacao) came from a sacred mountain discovered by the gods. Cacao has been enjoyed as a sacred beverage in Mesoamerica since at least 2000 BCE. Cacao seeds, or beans, were also a major source of currency in pre-Columbian civilizations. According to legend, Moctezuma II, ruler of the Aztec Empire, first introduced chocolate in the form of a beverage to the Spanish conquistador Cortes. Cacao was then brought to the Spanish court, but didn’t become popular until 1544, when France and England began asking for it.
Today, nearly 25 million acres are dedicated to the worldwide cultivation of cacao. Cacao trees begin to bear fruit within four or five years. Large pods that grow directly from the trunk or large branch hold between 20 – 60 seeds each. Raw cacao beans, used in traditional cacao ceremonies, are growing in popularity due to their many health benefits. Roasted cacao beans are known as cocoa, which are used to produce a wide variety of chocolate products. Cacao and cocoa are some of the most desired foods in the world.
New Book Coming Soon!
Title: Caring Cacao – A Jungle Adventure
Storyline: Caring Cacao invites Truthful Tea Leaf and Blissful Bodhi to the Upper Amazon basin in Peru to harvest some cacao pods in the jungle. They begin their journey by riding in a small boat up the Amazon River. On the way they greet caymans, scarlet macaws and tamarin monkeys. As they get close, a sloth points them toward the path. When they reach the cacao trees, they find a jaguar resting in a nearby tree. The jaguar watches as they collect a few cacao pods and break them open. Caring Cacao lays out a hand-woven cloth on the ground, along with some cups. Everyone sits in a circle around a small fire as they prepare the cacao. Cups of warm cacao are handed out. They all drink it slowly and take in the jungle. The jaguar is now curled up next to Cacao as the sloth holds a cup. A pair of capuchins play next to Tea Leaf and Bodhi. As they ride the boat home a giant Blue Morphos butterfly leads the way.
Copyright © 2021 by Lanvi T. Nguyen and Laural V. Wauters.
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