Mars Choco Festival image: dried cocoa seeds.
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The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian’s annual “Power of Chocolate” festival will be held Saturday, Feb. 11, and Sunday, Feb. 12, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. This celebration of culture, music, dance, art, science and food explores the rich history and ongoing story of chocolate with an assortment of presentations, including spectacular Bolivian dance groups, food demonstrations and a “chocolate talk” about the mythology and history of the cacao plant. Free chocolate samples will be provided while supplies last.
Visitors will learn about the scientific properties of chocolate and deepen their understanding of the cultures and communities that have cultivated this valuable crop. Families and young visitors will also have a chance to experience hands-on activities as they create paper molas, grind cacao beans and froth their own hot chocolate. Richard Hetzler, executive chef of the museum’s acclaimed Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe, will give food demonstrations in the Rasmuson Theater of recipes that highlight chocolate in both sweet and savory dishes.
Visitors can join Rodney Snyder, chocolate history research director from The Historic Division of Mars, and other experts as they talk about the journey the cacao bean takes to become chocolate and how it has evolved throughout cultures, history and its place in contemporary society. They will be able to purchase the handmade American Heritage Chocolate items, including sticks, blocks and chocolate drink mix.
Natividad Estrada (Mazatec) from Oaxaca, Mexico, will be explaining the cultural and spiritual significance of cacao to her indigenous community in the Potomac Atrium. Two dance groups, Tradiciones Bolivianas and Sangre Boliviana, will be performing spectacular traditional and folkloric dances from Bolivia each day.
The Chocolate Talk will feature Catherine Kwik-Uribe of Mars Botanical who will provide an overview of the historical uses of cacao and the latest scientific research involving chocolate, cocoa and cocoa flavanols. “This annual program will discuss the beginnings, evolution and cultural use of this popular food,” said Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the museum. “It is one of the many foods that were introduced from the Americas to the world, along with vanilla, corn, beans and others.”
This event is made possible with support from The Historic Division of Mars. Visit http://bit.ly/eVHhE5 for full schedule and more information.
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