Cacahuatl - Cacao - Theobroma cacao (part 2)
Second tincture of the fresh fruit and seeds of cacahuatl (cacao, Theobroma cacao). In South America, where the plant was perhaps first cultivated 5,300 years ago, the wet coating of the seeds (beans) is called baba de cacao. Traditionally the pod is cut open with a machete. Upon opening the ovoid husk, a fragrance escapes that is already slightly fermented with a hint of punk, similar to the smell of breaking the skin of other gummy but non acidic fruits like avocado, mango, and papaya, or opening a can of wheat beer. The interior looks like a giant egg sac, with a ripe and parthenogenetic appearance fitting for a fruit whose flowers are pollinated by flies. Often the opalescent flesh is so wet that tiny bubbles have formed on its surfaces. No matter how you pull out the fruit, it feels violent, like ripping the spine away from an animal's viscera. Some say the baba de cacao tastes like pink lemonade. It also has a scent similar to that of the Ataúlfo mango, a modern Mexican cultivar. In the production of cacahuatl (the raw material used to make chocolate), the mucilaginous baba de cacao is left on the beans as they ferment, often covered by banana leaves. The lilac pulp liquifies and then runs off in a process called sweating. Baba is responsible for nearly all of the tropical nuances imparted to chocolate, and if it is removed prior to fermentation, the cacao will be of inferior quality and lack flavor. Some say the beans without the pulp taste like raw potato. To me the flavor of the raw seeds strikes me as a muted Roquefort: chalky, creamy, and slightly nutty flavor. It is far less delicious than the baba, which is like eating a lobster or a spider crab. You suck the integumental goo off of each eggy mound, separating them from the vertebrae running down the center as you go. The spine is like the lobster tail, crunchy, sweet, fibrous, still soft but less inchoate. Here I have sliced the fresh beans in order to tincture them and the baba a second time. I want to see if there is a difference from tincturing them without being cut, which has resulted in a gorgeous sidecar of a liquor.
© 2021, Abby Hinsman for Wild Veil Perfume.