Thursday, January 10, 2008

Adventures with The Chocolate Tree


What an amazing weekend we had recently! The Dallas Arboretum was hosting an event about The Chocolate Tree. My four year would later be disappointed to find out that the tree wasn't actually made of chocolate but she admits she still had a great time.

The entire arboretum was set up in stations. You begin with first learning that chocolate comes from a bean. Said bean comes from a tree that only grows in the equatorial region of the world.

We also learned about some of the tools that the Aztecs and Spaniards developed to work the coco bean into a chocolate paste or liquor. (sorry about the flash it was sooo sunny that day and it was wreaking havoc on my digital camera!)


As we progressed through the various learning centers we encountered the coolest thing ever! They had these little craft centers set up to demonstrate to the kids everything they could do with chocolate:

You can color with chocolate:


You can paint or make playdough with chocolate (they made plain playdough and were letting all the kids mix coco powder into that and play with it - you can imagine it was quite a hit!) :



They also threw in a little history lesson for the parents and older kids:


As I was saying this event covered the entire 6 acres of the center. One of my favorite stations happens to also be the one my wife and I couldn't stop laughing about:


This was supposed to be a coco seed and the above hanging bits were supposed to be the coco itself. Well, I might have chosen a different angle :)

To point you in the right direction there were signs showing which way to go. These signs were standing in chocolate mulch. Chocolate mulch is the seed shell which is a byproduct of the coco seed. As a part of processing fresh coco they dry them out and crack the shell and the chocolate is inside.


The great thing about chocolate mulch is that it smells, well, like chocolate. So when you dig your hands in it they smell like chocolate afterwards! We all really enjoyed this experience! It's not everyday you are encouraged to smell like chocolate :) When you were done touring everything you got a sample of Dove Chocolate to complete the cycle of growth to production. All of the volunteers were wearing aprons that said: 'You don't know the truffles I've seen'. I thought that was clever.

So in the end we were well tired out from running around the still blooming flowers of the many gardens and from learning all about The Chocolate Tree and where everybody's favorite dessert comes from.

Oh, and it still took me two more days to convince my oldest daughter that we didn't lie to her - it was "The Chocolate Tree" not "A Tree Made Out Of Chocolate"!


BumbleVee said...

that's a coco is it?..with its dangly bits .....just dangling there for all the world to see...hahahahha

Lewis said...

Perspective can be a (ahem) tricky thing :)

Alex said...

thanks Lewis for sharing your bits and bobs!
I can't believe what a fab display your local arb has! I used to live by one (we always called it the arb) and I have lots of fond memories of midnight walks etc.

Lewis said...

Alex - It was an amazing day for all! Thanks for stopping by :)