A journalist maintained, who lived in Europe and who became a taster of the well-known grain of gold, promotes the inheritance that carries the product whose plantations are located in the north of Manabí.
When Manabi journalist Susana Cárdenas picked up – with only 10 years – cocoa pods in the family farm located in Santa Ana (center of the province of Manabí), she never imagined that this experience would mark her life. She remembers with emotion the moments she shared with her father when they traveled from Manta to the community of El Tillal. “After a refreshing swim in the river, we went to the plantations on the 10-hectare property,” says Susana.
The first thing was to collect cocoa pods. Since then her relationship with the grain of gold, as they know it in the area, is part of her life. Susana shows the chocolates she has made to send to Europe. A long stay in London (England), of 10 years, allowed this manabita to know in depth the cocoa business.
First she was hired by a cocoa expert from England to run a blog. After several investigations between 2011 and 2017, it became a fine cacao taster. Then she decides not only to tell the stories of others in relation to cocoa and chocolate. “We had to bring the Manabi cocoa to the most demanding palates in Europe that are in London and France especially,” she says.
Her knowledge about cocoa became more acute after she finished a master’s degree in business in Cambridge. She was the only Latina woman among 70 students of that master’s degree. Back home she decides to start studying the historical and ancestral origins of Manabi cocoa. Thus it concentrates in arriving at the producers near the legendary hacienda the Providence, in the Chone canton, northwest of Manabí.
She found cacao trees with more than 100 years of life. Select the product, before looking for information and then work intensively in the technique of grain fermentation. Although they are ancestral methods, Susana says that she looks for the whole subject of inheritance in the seed. “It’s not just about making a chocolate, so, you have to know its history, so that when you taste a chocolate you will feel all the flavors and smells that come from its origin and the land where it was harvested.”
Chocolate, she says, is more than taking a piece of cocoa to your mouth, you have to go beyond the limits of your imagination when you taste it. With the chocolate created by Susana, who named it “Cárdenas”, she has won some awards in Europe.
The selection of chocolates is essential so that buyers are interested in knowing the history – in this case – of the cocoa areas of Manabí. Their bars are sold in London and they have unique design envelopes in which the ancestrality and the whole process are captured since the ear begins to be born attached to the tree.
The Manabi researcher and historian Eumeny Álava says that the relationship of the farmer and the farmer with the land and cocoa is ancestral. “From our ancestors, who lived before the arrival of the Spaniards, the gold seed was already appreciated and a special snack for the pre-Columbian inhabitants.”
Álava affirms that there are trees with more than 150 years of life that are still standing between Chone, Calceta and the territories of the northern area of Manabí. Remember that there were cacao farms such as La Providencia in Chone, where it was stockpiled in large quantities, dried in extensive areas and then from the high areas of the mountain the product was taken to Bahia. Everything was through a legendary and historical railway whose route began in Chone. (I)