Chapter 4: Calabash; Cassava and a Cocoa Plantation in the Caribbean

The Tour Continues:

Calabash:calabash house

Calabash is a gourd-like fruit that the ancient Creole hollowed out; dried; and subsequently used for drinking vessels, bowls and/or utensils.  In our travels this morning, I saw several trees with the young lime green fruit.  The mature fruit is huge and our resort had one such tree growing in the centre as a tribute to their ancestral roots.  The plant is highly respected. It is also the national tree of St. Lucia. 

calabash tree and fruit

Calabash tree with its lime green fruit

cassava bread

Cassava bread

 Cassava Bread:

The thing about having a tour hosted by local inhabitants, this quaint shop would not have meant much otherwise.  The Cassava plant is a root.  It is processed at this little roadside hut and they have it down to a science.  In wood fired ovens they make their world famous Cassava bread; an unleavened true Caribbean artisan bread.  We sampled the raisin cinnamon; plain and banana flavors.  The bread is very dense and a small bitty portion will satisfy. It was delicious! 

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Wood fired ovens are stoked from outside Plas Kassav

Cassava bread is a mainstay of the Creole diet and the Cassava Farine is used as a cereal or as thickening for gravies and tapioca pudding.  And it’s gluten free!

cassava bread shop sign

Cassava Bread shop sign

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Restaurant on the Cocoa Plantation

A Cocoa Plantation in St. Lucia:

With great anticipation we followed our two tour friends into a rainforest(like) Cocoa plantation for lunch (the Fond Doux Holiday Plantation). We were late arriving but no worries a menu was promptly delivered to our table and with some suggestions from our new found friends, we boldly ordered from the menu. Fish and chips were recommended.  I was intrigued.  The fish was a local catch called Dorado.  Well okay – I put my ‘brave’ hat on and ordered it.  Hoping against hope that it would be disguised somewhat and I wouldn’t really see it.  Call me crazy but there are some gill fish varieties out there that are just plain ugly. Turned out the fish was delicious with a few dippy things on the side (like a local favorite West Indian hot sauce).  I opted for tartar sauce…I know… not very racy.  The fries were ordinary but then again I am not a ‘fry girl’. This was indeed dining with the ambience of the tropical rainforest right within our reach!

Fond Deux Holday Plantation welcome

Welcome to Fond Deux Holiday Plantation

cocoa plantation

A tropical breeze; a rainforest…ahhh – Bon Appetit!

After our appetites were satiated, a tour guide took us on a quick tour of the plantation – one of the original cocoa plantations on the Island.  (The plantation is also a resort type where you can book rooms/cottages and stay).  Large wooden racks on wheels hold the pods as they bake and cure in the sun.  With even a sprinkle of rain, workers push the trays which are on tracks back into the building.  Here in the rainforest it is constantly raining for short periods of time…so I expect this is a full time job!

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A worker quickly and expertly wheels the racks of cocoa beans into the building at the first sign of rain

A cocoa pod was duly cracked and we were offered the milky white pods to ‘suck on’ but warned not to bite into it. 

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A cocoa pod is cracked revealing the slimy white cocoa beans – yum

At the man sized cauldron in the middle of a clearing, a young man added some cocoa pod ‘slime’ to the cocoa pods (that had already baked in the sun) in the cauldron.  Then he began his ‘dance’ on the cocoa beans – amazing. I couldn’t resist taking a video! We were encouraged to purchase the ‘cocoa tea’ which we did.  I’m not sure I can get past the dancing feet – so our cocoa stick is still in its package. 

Care to come for tea??

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Adding the cocoa pod slime to the cauldron

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And then the barefoot cocoa bean dance

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Our gracious plantation guide

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