How sweet it is!
You might be a little more appreciative of that O Henry or Aero or Mars chocolate bar that you’re ready to sink your teeth into if you’ve visited Santo Domingo’s Kah Kow Experience.
The attraction, found in the carefully restored old quarter of the Dominican Republic capital, gives visitors the lowdown on chocolate, informing sweet-toothed tourists about the confectionery’s history and production, and making chocolate and selling it on site as well.
The Kah Kow name is a phonetic take on cacao, the large beans needed for the making of chocolate.
Santo Domingo tour guide Prudencio “Pruddy” Ferdinand says those who appreciate chocolate generally know little about its often intriguing history or the making of it.
“They just like the sweetness of it,” he says. “They don’t know the process.”
That’s where The Kah Kow Experience steps in, with its entertaining videos informing visitors that chocolate is only sweet because of added sugar and it originated in pre-Columbian MesoAmerica, where it was consumed in a liquid form by nobility and indeed an Aztec emperor offered it to Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes, who actually disliked it because of its bitterness.
Nevertheless, chocolate found its way to Europe, becoming popular with the likes of Spanish royalty. Europeans began adding sugar to it.
“Every time you take a sip of hot chocolate, you are drinking (what was) the exclusive drink of gods and kings,” one of The Kah Kow Experience’s videos says.
Chocolate is actually “one of man’s oldest pleasures,” the video continues, adding Hershey’s chocolate bars were a staple food for American troops in World War II.
The video adds that the Dominican Republic’s terrain and climate are ideally suited for cacao cultivation, and Ferdinand reports that over 90% of Dominican chocolate is exported. “You can be in France and see chocolate that says Made in the Dominican Republic.”
The Kah Kow Experience invites visitors to sample both cacao and chocolate and also has a store selling its products.
The Kah Kow Experience is also affiliated with El Sendero del Cacao, a cacao-producing farm some 2 hours away that provides visitors with guided tours and invites them to make chocolate under staff guidance, something Ferdinand has done.
“It wasn’t that bad,” Ferdinand modestly says of his own sweet creation.
Santo Domingo-based Arajet links both Montreal and Toronto with the Dominican capital.