Looks like I’m “bending the rules” a bit with my definition of “origin” again this week. Honestly, I saw Guatemala: Q’eqchi on the packaging and thought “DONE!” This round of the Alphabet has been such a learning experience, making me realize that there is generally more than meets the eye when it comes to labeling!
Q’eqchî (sometimes written as Kekchi) refers to both the indigenous Maya peoples of Guatemala and Belize, as well as their Mayan language.
Since Q’eqchî isn’t a point on the map, I wanted to know more about where the cacao was grown. Luckily, the farmer (Hector A. Ruiz Chub), is quoted on the back of the Parliament Chocolate packaging: “Cacao is a valuable tradition that comes from our Mayan ancestors and has been passed from generation to generation. Q’eqchi families from the eco-region of Lachua dedicate themselves to the cultivation of cacao to produce the highest quality product, to better the economy of our families and helping at the same time to preserve the environment for our future generations.”
OK, so now I had Lachuá as a starting point for additional investigation! Flipping through the PDF version of Uncommon Cacao’s 2016 Transparency Report provided further information about the area:
“Laguna Lachuá is a large pristine cenote lake deemed a national park in 1976 and a Ramsar site in 2006.”
Wow…just one seemingly simple sentence and there were already 2 terms that I wasn’t familiar with! Cenote describes a deep natural well or sinkhole that was formed by the collapse of limestone and generally means that groundwater can be found there. The Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty which designates wetland sites of international importance, works to conserve those areas, and ensures their sustainable use. It never ceases to amaze me that a whole new world can be discovered, one chocolate bar at a time 🙂
Based on information found on Uncommon Cacao’s website, these Lachuá farmers also grow cardamom and corn in addition to cacao. Ooh, now doesn’t that sound like an awesome combination of ingredients for a chocolate bar?! Hint, hint to anyone out there reading this 😉
After all that preamble, I’m getting hungry to taste the chocolate!!
Parliament Chocolate – Guatemala: Q’eqchi 70%
One of the things that I love most about Parliament Chocolate’s thick, textured, paper outer wrapper sleeves is that they generally have a detailed and whimsical illustration of a black & white owl on the front; this one is wearing what might be the traditional dress of the Q’eqchî?!
In case you’re curious, a group of owls is called a parliament, hence this is the perfect logo for this company!
Removing the nearly 2 ounce bar, made up of 24 tiny conjoined rectangles, from the wax lined foil inner wrapper, I noticed that the top surface was lightly frosted. Not sure what caused this, maybe the chocolate was too cold or beginning to bloom?
For contrast/perspective, I used my fingertip to lightly buff the rectangle on the bottom right corner. See the difference in color/finish?
The back of the bar was also visually interesting. Is it only me, or does it look like a lunar landscape?! I used a “dramatic cool” filter for the photo.
There was a dry/brittle snap when breaking off tasting morsels from the full bar, but a sharp snap when segmenting individual rectangles.
Honey and nutty notes wafted to my nose at the break point and there was a light yogurt-like tang during the smooth, slow/even melt which ended with an astringent finish. Subsequent toothy bites, which crumbled when chewed, reminded me of juicy berries, jam or a creamy parfait!
Next time YOU pick up a bar of chocolate…just remember that hidden beneath each humble label, there are stories just waiting to be told!
For more information about bean-to-bar maker Parliament Chocolate based in Redlands, California, please visit their website: http://www.parliamentchocolate.com/