Around about kilometer 175 on the Belaunde Marginal Road from Chiclayo to Chachapoyas there is a group of cacao (cocoa) growers that produce chocolate. The chocolate is sold in discs jam jar lid size and smells superb. However this chocolate isn’t for simply munching on, as it is still not fully refined and remains very bitter. Most often it used to make hot chocolate by breaking up the disc and slowly letting it melt in milk before adding sugar. Hot chocolate is a traditional drink at Christmas time, and is served with the fruit bread called paneton.
Northern Peruvian chocolate had a little limelight in 2013, when CNN with Anthony Bourdain visited a wild cacao plantation not far from km 175. These cacao beans are the source for Anthony’s own brand “Good and Evil” chocolate and are allegedly the best in the world.
At Km175 the plantations appear to belong to individual families rather than a cooperative and each family has a sign advertising their own brand of chocolate. Many of the signs appear to be of girls names and possibly therefore the mother of the household. One sign says El Gordo the Fat One and yet another Chocolate Armagedon. While the chocolate may not be so good that it causes the end of the world, it is certainly very tasty and with a spot of rum or pisco, just a little naughty too.