It was a rare occurrence. Mining suppliers in the deepest, darkest Peruvian Amazon causing the world’s most discerning chocolatiers to leap in excitement. This was back in 2008, when whispers of new discoveries of ancient, pure white pods of cacao began to trickle through to the market and spark a flurry of expeditions from agricultural specialists sponsored by the world’s top chocolate houses on the hunt for purity. Although chocolate is perhaps one of the world’s most common treats, its proliferation and popularity unparalleled in the confectionary world, the chocolate most of us know is a sub-standard version, constructed upon added sugar and clever marketing. Despite being a common commodity since the colonization of the Americas, very few new discoveries have been made up until recent years, where upon pure, ancient and highly coveted beans once de rigueur amongst the Mayans have opened up the world of chocolate to a whole new level.
In the last 3 years, 324 varieties of cacao have been collected by the Insituto de Cultivos Tropicales for research, with the idea of developing a new culture of chocolate tasting similar to wine- and while this may seem far-fetched, chocolate has over 600 flavour compounds, while wine has only 200. Both the Peruvian government and American institutions have been quick to invest in exploration, offering incentives to farmers who switch from coca to cacao production. However, the excitement still lies in setting out in exploration, where experts believe they are only just beginning to scratch the surface. Dehouche first tasted Peru’s pure blend (it was like diving into a deep pool of aromatic nuttiness and not resurfacing) at Virgilio Martinez’s Central in Lima- a firm proponent of developing the most exotic and rare of Peruvian local produce, Martinez works with an organic cacao supplier from Tarapoto who provides him with the cocoa butter, cacao and shells for the desert menu and infusions.
To join the hunt, Dehouche arrange for you to take part in a journey into the heart of the Peruvian Amazon with one of the world’s top chocolate sourcers, to learn how to spot the golden pods and take them back to the tiny village communities that produce the cacao: A Jurassic park style adventure (without the dinosaurs), trail-blazing through an industry that is only just awakening.