Last Sunday, The Cocoa Food Festival was hosted by the Montserrat Cocoa Farmers Cooperative Society Limited (MCFCSL). The event which was held at the La Vega Estate in Gran Couva attracted hundreds of foodies who were curious to see how cocoa could be used in local dishes.
The sweet strains of the steelpan played by the Couva Joylanders Steel Orchestra were the perfect accompaniment to the luscious cocoa-infused dishes.
Christopher Paul, President of the MCFCSL, pointed out that 95 percent of the cocoa produced globally is bulk cocoa and the other five percent is fine flavoured cocoa. He noted that the cocoa grown in Trinidad and Tobago is 100 percent fine flavoured. Paul stated that 95 percent of local production is being exported to chocolatiers in Europe while the rest is used to produce artisan chocolate.
The food vendors found unique ways to add cocoa to their dishes. Debby Ann Cyrus prepared curried chicken with cocoa. She freshly roasted the cocoa beans for its unique aroma. The creative vendor then ground the beans and added the cocoa powder to the curried chicken once it was almost finished cooking. As for the quantity of cocoa used, that remains Cyrus’ special secret.
The Gran Couva Police Youth Club sold chow made with mangoes, pineapples and of course cocoa which was served in the cocoa pod itself.
Doubles vendor, Roland Ramnarine infused the flavour of cocoa into his pepper sauce.
Bake and shark was next on the list to be infused with cocoa. Cocoa nibs were mixed with the dough and then fried. The result? A nutty, delicious surprise that made the bake delicious all by itself.
Cocoa clearly is not just for chocolate. The sweet cocoa pulp down to the smoky cocoa nibs have a lot to offer to a variety of dishes, not just desserts.
Photo and story by Shastri Boodan