The C-spot®

 Crushpad Newsletter

  Newsbites for the Chocoscenti
March 2013, Issue #3 — Issue #2 here

 

Chocolate Awards: Feast or Famine… or Fraud?

People often ask us “what’s the best chocolate in the world?” Of course we direct them to The Chocolate Census but always with this caveat: ratings & reviews are, like the chocolate melt itself, highly ephemeral. Reviews should be viewed only as snapshots in time.

That said, how can a bar be the best in the world if it isn’t, arguably, even the best in its own country? A country over-run by an army of vapid clones? And so-called “raw” to boot?

Here’s how. Take a ride on our in-depth exposé about chocolate competitions & judge for yourself: Pacari’s 70% Raw review.

Ultra Vintage Chocolate

The Chocoverse was atwitter over news reports of theobromine & caffeine (2 markers for chocolate) showing up in ceramic bowls 1,200 years ago near Canyonlands in present-day Utah, making it the earliest known chocolate north of the Rio Grande. Hardly surprising given the extensive trade network stretching for thousands of miles to the south in Mesoamerica that included parrots & copper bells & seashells.

What is surprising is this: an Ecuadorian cultural heritage magazine — Nuestro Patrimonio #25 — reports that a local archaeological team in collaboration with the University of Calgary discovered traces of cacáo/chocolate, carbon-dated back 5,500 years. The samples are so clear that scientists were able to identify Nacional cacáo harvested by the Mayo Chinchipe culture.

This is groundbreaking. It shifts both the geography & the chronology of cacáo-transformed-into-chocolate by a) modifying our understanding of its domestication (presumed to be Mesoamerica) toward the center of its origin (South America); b) raising the altitude at which cacáo can grow to 3,500+ feet above sea level; & c) changing the timeline of the first known usage of cacáo to 3,500 BCE. Mysteriously, the English-speaking press has largely been silent about this. Until now.

How does it taste? Nearby communities selected 82 native trees around the site & are reproducing them by grafting & seedlings. Stay tuned.

Next Newsletter:

        Is Chocolate Gay?

 

CORRECTIONS: Thanks to Dr. Howard-Yana Shapiro, Global Staff Officer for Plant Science & External Research at Mars Inc, for kindly pointing out to us that our February Newsletter overstated Dr. Juan Carlos Motamayor‘s association with the USDA/ARS; Dr. Motamayor is also with Mars, serving as its Global Program Director.
UPDATE:
Last month we featured the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Initiative (HCP). The initiative deserves our support. We’re excited that we’re now part of it: HCP has named the C-spot’s Mark Xian to be the Director of the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund, established to ensure that the important work of this organization achieves its goals. If you want to be involved, lend support, & learn more… well, see last month’s newsletter.

Criollo

…the chocoscenti murmur in soft, reverential tones. Just the sound of it — krē-ˈōl-yō — brings magic-music to their eardrums.

A Spanish word meaning “native” or “indigenous”, Criollo in chocolate could refer to either a specific varietal of cacao originally domesticated by Mesoamericans that earned it a flavorful reputation, or more colloquially to anything grandpa planted in the backyard.  Today many chocolates claim to be Criollo — many more than could actually be produced — in order to leverage its marketing appeal.

Our own ears pricked up upon hearing about a bar that was DNA tested & verified as belonging to the Criollo family. So genuine by any measure that a chocolate crafted from these seeds perfectly reflected its color — a golden strawberry blonde — & so bright it could pass for headlights. Naturally we had to taste it out for a spin. Our review caused a bit of a stir:

   * Bar: $20
   * Criollo Bling Harvest: $200k
* Seaside Villa w/ Cacáo Grove: $2 million
* Flavor: worthless

Choc on,
the C-spot

 

 

 

 

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