Chocolate Celebration for Your Sweet Tooth

Posted February 6, 2008 at 5:04pm

Looking to add a dash of culture to that box of chocolates for your Valentine?

Sweet-toothed sweethearts can check out “The Power of Chocolate: Chocolate of the Americas” at the National Museum of the American Indian.

The free event, which will run Saturday through Valentine’s Day (with the exception of Feb. 13), features demonstrations and performances that explore the cultural and historical roles of chocolate in indigenous societies.

“Long beloved by non-Natives, but never fully understood, cacao has been at the heart of Mesoamerican culture for centuries,” an announcement stated.

The celebration includes demonstrations by representatives from indigenous chocolate cooperative El Ceibo, Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe Executive Chef Richard Hetzler and the Smithsonian’s own botanist and expert in Mexican cloud forest vegetation Diana Xochitl Munn. Cultural dance troupes and musicians will help set a festive mood with performances and traditional Mayan music.

After learning about such topics as growing cacao and making chocolate, visitors can indulge in treats of their own with free samples from the museum cafe.

“The Power of Chocolate: Chocolate of the Americas” will be held in the Potomac Atrium and Potomac Alcove. The museum is located at Fourth Street and Independence Avenue Southwest, and is open 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.

For more information and a schedule of events, call 202-633-1000 or visit nmai.si.edu.

Norton Seeks Hearing on National Parks’ Security

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) is hoping to get Congress involved in improving security on the National Mall.

Norton sent Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) a letter this week asking him to hold a hearing on the security of national parks throughout the country, days after the inspector general of the Interior Department found that security and staffing at national monuments was insufficient. Grijalva is chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

“I believe that the issues facing the [U.S. Park Police] are unusually serious and have crippled a federal police force that once had a stellar reputation,” Norton wrote. “I hope that the subcommittee will place the matter on its agenda for this year.”

This is not the first time Norton has urged Congress to help with the Mall’s security.

In 2006, following several assaults in the area, Norton asked Capitol Police to help patrol the area. And in 1992, she sponsored legislation that expanded officers’ authority to prevent “imminent loss of life or injury to person or property” in the D.C. area if the officer is on official duty.

— Torey Van Oot and Emily Yehle