R is for Río Tambo

Learning experiences can manifest themselves from even the most casual conversations! Let me explain…

As I was leaving my parents’ house tonight, I noticed that the TV station was showing Pope Francis’ visit to Peru, so I mentioned to my dad that I was going home to write about a chocolate made from Peruvian beans and took out my phone to show him the pictures that I had taken earlier in the morning. I zoomed in to the front of the packaging and said, “See…Río Tambo, Peru.” My dad loves quizzing me on esoteric words, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when he asked, “Do you know what ‘tambo’ means?” I didn’t. By his definition, it refers to a place where you can get milk from cows, which left me a little perplexed, so I did some research once I got home. According to online dictionaries, there are various meanings depending on which country you come from! In Paraguay (and apparently Argentina), it means a dairy farm or a milking yard (ah, NOW my dad’s explanation made sense!) In Bolivia or Ecuador, it means a wayside inn (for reference, the entry said that a tambo was an Incan structure that could be found along the roadside to store supplies or serve as lodging for itinerant military personnel). In Mexico, it’s the slang term for “jail”! I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to discover alternate meanings of the word; I plan to “challenge” my dad to a rematch the next time I see him! 😉

When my dad looked at the packaging a second time and said, “What does Parliament have to do with this?” it was MY turn to teach him something new! Remember from last week? A group of owls is called a parliament!!

Unfortunately I didn’t find much information on the Río Tambo area. Aside from a map, a photo and some statistics, the one sentence Wikipedia entry lists that it is one of eight districts in the province of Satipo in the Junín region of Peru. Other Google searches indicate that it’s also the name of a Peruvian river on the eastern slopes of the Andes (though the name refers to only a 159 kilometer stretch!)

Information was more plentiful about the producers of the cacao beans: CAC Pangoa (aka La Cooperativa Agraria Cafetelera Pangoa) and especially the General Manager for the past 20 years: Doña Esperanza Dionisio Castillo. After reading this article, I’m left thinking if a name can shape a person’s destiny. Esperanza means “hope” and she definitely lives up to her name, working tirelessly to ensure a better future for her 700+ member farmers who often have diversified crops of both coffee and cacao (cacao in the lower altitudes and coffee in the higher altitudes). Now I wonder whether there will be coffee notes in the chocolate bar I’m about to taste…let’s see!

Parliament Chocolate – Peru: Río Tambo 70% Dark Chocolate

As usual, the artwork on the front of the packaging is exquisitely rendered and frame-worthy! Seriously, I’m thinking about creating a collage of all the different owl illustrations!

The medium brown-colored bar made up of 24 tiny rectangles with a matte finish and some air bubbles at the corners might look unassuming, but one whiff of the deep, fruity/earthy aroma lets you know that the flavor will be unique and nuanced.

With a sharp snap, I was easily able to segment 2 rows of three rectangles; really I only wanted just one row, but fate intervened 😉 I’m still at a loss as to how to accurately describe the texture since it was not completely smooth, nor gritty either. I’m sure there a term I need to learn, maybe I should ask my dad! 😉

Melting a rectangle on my tongue was like going on a roller coaster: raisin/dessert wine sweetness; flashes of citrus, acidic/buttermilk tang; bursts of juicy red fruit, like cherries or summer berries. At the end of that ride of flavors, there was some mild astringency + a long lasting (yet pleasant) aftertaste.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know it wouldn’t be a complete post without me showing you the back of the bar and this one reminds me of a Picasso painting or a mosaic! It also looks like letters are popping out.

Please leave me a comment to let me know what YOU see!

Would you like to experience this bar for yourself? Please visit Parliament Chocolate’s website for details: http://www.parliamentchocolate.com/

And if there are esoteric words you think could stump my dad…bring it on!