Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Carob Experience

This giant 5 inch bean, is a bean that many chocolate fanatics despise.  This is a carob bean, and carob is most often used as a chocolate substitute.  I'm sure, if you're like me, you're wondering why in the world someone would want to substitute real cocoa for something fake.  I'm guessing it has to do with either the high price of cocoa, or maybe some people are allergic to cocoa (although I've never met anybody in my life with this horrible affliction).  On many occasions I've been lucky enough to sample cocoa, in many forms, including full toasted beans.  But I can't say that I've ever even seen a carob pod before.  So once I saw this glorious bean on a market shelf, I knew I couldn't pass it up.
Before I bought it, I asked the nice lady selling them exactly how one goes about eating a carob pod.  She went on to tell me about a few cooking methods, but I'm sure the confused look in my face led her to tell me that you can just eat it as is as well.  Frankly this giant bean didn't really look that appetizing at all, but it did have a nice smell, so I bought the bean, and took the nice lady's advice.  After my first bite I wasn't really convinced that you can simply bite into a dried carob pod and enjoy.  There was a certain chocolate like flavour, but the pod was really tough and woody.
Inside the pod I found several of these little hard beans.  In most cases the bean is much tastier than the pod, and I figured that once I bit into one of these little beans, I would be in fake chocolate bliss.  As it turns out these little beans are rock hard and impossible to bite through.  It could be that they are the most flavorful part of this bean delight, but I wasn't going to know, because I couldn't crunch it without doing some serious damage to my teeth.  I did try sucking on the little bean for a little while, but it was still as hard a marble.
Is a carob bean tasty?  The flavour that I did manage to extract from this bean wasn't that bad at all.  I can see why it could be used a chocolate substitute, and it might even have flavorful applications on its own.  I am however convinced that the lady at the market really wanted to sell me this bean.  I don't think people actually eat these beans as is, the texture is just too woody, and the beans are impossible to chew at all.  Maybe if I soaked it, or maybe if I boiled it, I might have had more luck.


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