Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Guido Gobino - 70% Extra Bitter Chontalpa, Mexico chocolate - May 25, 2020

Chocolate of the Day:

Guido Gobino
70% Extra Bitter Chontalpa (Tabasco) Mexico chocolate
Good +
Weight: .194 oz. (5.5 g.) in 1 square
Calories: 30 calories (estimate) in 1 square
Cost: $0.89 for 1 square
Purchased from: Chocosphere.com, online order

Buenos dias y bienvenidos a (Good day and welcome to) Day #4 of Chocolate and Maya Empire Theme Week. Or, in Mayan: Ba'ax ka wa'alik? (hello) and Alk'ara Xutula (welcome). 

Today's individually-wrapped fluted disc of 70% Extra Bitter Chontalpa, Mexico, chocolate was produced by Guido Gobino (Torino (Turin), Italy). 

The Chontalpa region (the name refers to the local Chontal Maya population) is located in Tabasco--a state in southeast Mexico on the coast (Gulf of Mexico), north of Belize and Guatemala.

This flavorful small chocolate had a true chocolate aroma and taste with fruit and green floral notes. A slight astringency developed early on and lingered. There were fleeting notes of tartness and a faint sparkle of light earth, followed by a true chocolate (brownie) note in the finish.

Centuries ago, first the Olmec and then the Maya would be harvesting and consuming cacao in Tabasco; and the history of Tabasco is rich with stories about cacao, conquest and the Maya people. 

Maya - Tabasco connections
Today the Mexican state of Tabasco exports cacao, coconuts, bananas (as well as petroleum/oil). If one traveled back a few thousand years ago...one might witness the growth of the Maya empire and how they cultivated and used cacao, even using cocoa beans as a form of currency.

At the height of the Maya empire (250 - 900 A.D.), Maya people occupied the Yucatan peninsula, in what is now Guatemala and Belize as well as parts of southern Mexico, western Honduras and El Salvador. But, by the 1400s, their centralized stone cities were abandoned; groups of Maya lived in the jungles and in more decentralized city states. By the early 1500s, conflict had started to build up between native peoples in southern Mexico and the Aztec people to the north.

Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortez first arrived Mexico (in, you guessed it, Tabasco) in 1519, and, after hearing tales of gold and riches to the north (and likely exploiting native conflicts) he recruited thousands of native soldiers (including enemies of the Aztecs). And their combined forces marched north. Cortez conquered the Aztecs in 1521, and promptly claimed the land for Spain. 

The Maya people managed to stay independent until the 1600s, until they too came under Spanish rule. By the late 1500s, cacao was being shipped to Spain.* It was eventually brought to European colonies in West Africa and elsewhere for cultivation; and drinking chocolate and packaged/processed chocolate offerings would eventually catch on in Europe and spread around the globe...with some processed cocoa offerings coming back to the Americas and, starting in the mid-1800s, in the form of chocolate bars.

*Christopher Columbus, on hist fourth trans-Atlantic voyage to the Americas, in 1502, is said to have been the first European to encounter cacao beans in the new world, when his he and his crew apprehended a native canoe in the Bay of Honduras (south of Tabasco, Mexico, in an area in the Gulf of Mexico, east of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras). This small boat was carrying cacao beans (which the Europeans mistook for almonds). They observed that these "almonds" seemed to be highly valued by the natives.

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