Ep. 8: The Deep Origin: Latin America

The cocoa and chocolate we know and love was born in the upper Amazon and domesticated (turned into chocolate) in Mesoamerica. In this episode, we will explore the history of the food of the gods and, as the leading producer of fine and flavor cocoa, the role Latin America plays in chocolate today.

Guests include:
Maricel Presilla, chef, culinary historian, author of The New Taste of Chocolate and coordinator of the International Chocolate Awards, on the history of cacao and cocoa.

Cristian Melo, professor at Universidad Tecnológica Equinoccial, on the development of prized indigenous cacao and one of the world’s most prolific hybrids in the country that leads in fine and flavor production.

Chloé Doutre-Roussel, consultant and author of The Chocolate Connoisseur, on how the economic crisis in Venezuela impacts cocoa farmers and the industry at large.

Correction: Due to an editing error, a section of Maricel Presilla’s audio on the oldest evidence of cacao was omitted in a previous version of this episode. The audio has now been updated and we have included the section below in its entirety.
“The oldest that we have in our hands are fragments of pottery, and I think it’s just a single fragment from Chiapas, what is today Chiapas state in Mexico. It’s on the village called Paso de La Amada. And it was occupied by the Mokaya. It was a farming and fishing community. So this fragment contains the chemical trace of theobromine. But the date was really important. It was about 1900 to 1500 B.C. So that was considered to be the oldest trace of cacao in a pottery fragment.”

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Deanna Pucciarelli traces the complex history of chocolate in this TED-Ed Original video below.