Easter | Noble cocoa

Sacred, cocoa? In ceremonial cocoa rituals, the famous bean reveals its purest face. A look at a phenomenon inspired by Mayan traditions that is growing in North America.



Perhaps you have noticed, within your favorite wellness or yoga establishments, the flowering of a very particular ritual: that of sacred cocoa. But before committing heresy by throwing yourself on the first bar of chocolate that passes to introduce you to it, listen to these two teachers experienced in this holistic and spiritual tasting ceremony.

  • Although it looks like hot chocolate, the concoction is intended to be much nobler.

    PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

    Although it resembles hot chocolate, the concoction is intended to be much nobler.

  • Before tasting, sandalwood, incense or herbs can be burned.

    PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

    Before tasting, sandalwood, incense or herbs can be burned.

  • Harold Bonneville was looking for a drink other than coffee.  After trying matcha and mate, he discovered the potential of sacred cocoa.

    PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

    Harold Bonneville was looking for a drink other than coffee. After trying matcha and mate, he discovered the potential of sacred cocoa.

  • The cocoa paste comes in block form.

    PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

    The cocoa paste comes in block form.

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Sitting cross-legged in front of a coffee table where three cups sit, Harold Bonneville burns a stick of sandalwood, and curls of smoke rise in the morning light. Then he diligently pours the contents of a saucepan into the containers, raising a second cloud of steam. The color of the liquid seems very familiar, bringing forth childhood memories. But make no mistake: this is not a simple hot chocolate, but ceremonial cocoa, made from beans harvested, prepared and consumed in a setting inspired by Mayan traditions.

Such workshops are increasingly offered in North America, notably by yoga centers and teachers, as is the case with Mr. Bonneville. “It’s not just a tasting, it’s more holistic and spiritual,” underlines the latter, inviting us to dip our lips and our minds in the creamy drink.

Ritual and recognition

PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

It is not a simple tasting, but a time of meditation and introspection, which can also be a moment of openness and sharing.

Usually, its sessions take place in phases: celebration around cocoa, songs, transmission of historical elements about the bean, meditation, then yoga classes, all sometimes enhanced by the presence of a sound therapist. “All this will amplify this experience of connection to the heart, the cocoa acting as a natural vasodilator,” explains the yogi. Cocoa develops its effects slowly, over several hours, so we consume it before the session to give it time to act. I like to associate it with yin yoga, where you hold the postures for a certain time, to ensure that you feel it circulating. »

Certainly taking root in the traditions of Central America, the rituals are adapted to each person. Florence Say, speaker and teacher of yoga, tai chi and qi gong, has been organizing them for five years, emphasizing recognition. “The participants arrange themselves in a circle, we burn sage leaves, then we enter a meditative and introspective state where we thank nature, life, the earth, we place a positive intention, we chant mantras. It is therefore not purely Mayan, even if we remain in this tradition,” she indicates.

The cocoa theory

PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

The blocks can be grated or crumbled with a knife.

After having dissected a session, let’s look at the cup. What is “ceremonial grade” cocoa? “It is not an ordinary cocoa like you buy in supermarkets or grocery stores,” Florence Say immediately explains, “it is a pure cocoa paste, produced manually in Central or South America. »

Harold Bonneville adds: “Everything is done traditionally: planting, harvesting, fermentation, drying in the sun, roasting, selection made by hand by women from Mayan communities, cleaning of the beans, and finally processing into dough. »

  • For the workshops, each participant is invited to bring their favorite mug.

    PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

    For the workshops, each participant is invited to bring their favorite mug.

  • The cocoa paste used is manufactured according to specific criteria.

    PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

    The cocoa paste used is manufactured according to specific criteria.

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We thus obtain a very raw final product free of additives. It can come in the form of a block, sticks or broken nuggets, but anyone who tries to bite into it will break their teeth, it is so dense! Mme Say uses a grater to crumble it and concoct his drink, while Mr. Bonneville uses a knife.

To prepare her drink, Florence Say is rather purist, using only ingredients once accessible to the Mayans and spring water. To the grated cocoa, she adds spices, such as pepper or sage. “Traditionally, we also add cloves, chili pepper or cayenne pepper, which will disinfect. For my part, I don’t use it, otherwise it’s too strong! “, she says.

PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

For the yogi, coffee stimulates in the short term, for an effect on productivity, while the effects of cocoa last for hours, supporting creativity.

Harold Bonneville likes to concoct a sacred cocoa at the crossroads, calling, for example, on Ayurveda. He also cares about his guests discovering this rather special product by making it more accessible.

“It’s close to coffee in the bitter notes and it can be quite bitter, especially with water. This is why I melt the cocoa in organic oat milk, which makes it more textured, then I add cayenne, cardamom, ginger and a sweetener such as maple syrup or honey. he explains. The yoga teacher also adapts the dosages, which theoretically amount to 42 g of cocoa paste per person. “That’s a lot for someone who isn’t used to it, so I tend to use 25 g. »

  • The concoction is simmered for a good hour before being served.

    PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

    The concoction is simmered for a good hour before being served.

  • Some masters of ceremonies invite participants to place a positive intention during the ritual.

    PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

    Some masters of ceremonies invite participants to place a positive intention during the ritual.

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The final result, which we tasted, is surprising, slightly spicy, with contained bitterness and a good balance of spices. The creaminess of the liquid also encourages meditative contemplation. “This activates hormones of happiness, a slight euphoria, an opening of the heart. Emotions and energies will be released, I have already seen participants shed tears,” warns the yogi, who points out the good content of magnesium, zinc, copper and antioxidants in cocoa. “It’s very rich and very nourishing,” underlines Florence Say, without specifying whether she was talking about the body or the soul. But we suspect: probably both.

Visit the Harold Yoga website

Visit the Eve Marquis Yoga website

Where to find ceremonial cocoa?

As much as ordinary cocoa and chocolate are common in the streets, ceremonial cocoa paste is more difficult to find. From the outset, our duo of yogis emphasizes that this is not an official name and that geographical and production criteria apply. “You have to check the provenance,” insists Harold Bonneville. In particular, they use cocoa paste from Guatemala manufactured according to the rules of the art (Alma del Fuego type, for Mme Say). The price also provides a clue, i.e. $60 to $70 for a block of approximately 450 g. A good supply plan: Holistika, an online store founded by two Quebec women bridging the gap between Guatemala and Quebec.

Check out Holistika’s Etsy store

Sacred Cocoa by Harold Bonneville

  • 3/4 cup oat milk
  • 20 to 25 g of cocoa paste

Let the ingredients heat over low heat for about 1 hour. Those in a hurry can boil water, let cool slightly then put everything in a blender. “It will be more liquid, but more foamy,” notes Mr. Bonneville.


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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