Sunday, March 29, 2009

Novel Guatemalan Chocolate: Who Is Carlos Eichenberger?

Well, for one thing, he's the guy who gave me a ride from Guatemala City to my old hometown of Antigua the day after I spoke about this blog at the first (annual?) symposium on cacao hosted by the organization FundaSistemas in December of 2008. The focus of the conference was how to increase the tonnage of cacao exported from Guatemala by a factor of at least several hundred and thereby speed up economic and political development in the country. That's a process I would be fascinated to observe, but I'm reluctant to suggest that I have either a position to take regarding how to do it or expertise in advising anyone else to take up such a position. I am always happy, though, to talk about the nuanced implications of producing and consuming the materials in the developing and developed world that fuel the (increasingly international) small-scale artisanal chocolate industry.

I've been doing a lot of research in Guatemala over the past year on exactly that subject, though I haven't written much about it. In the midst of conducting a Top Secret Project about the Revival of Chocolate in the Ancient Maya Birthplace of Chocolate, I found that there were several other people doing the same thing. But, as I've mentioned recently, being the first person to the story isn't all that important to me. The literary world's general reverence of Proust, for example, (whom I still have not actually read) has little to do with the notion that he was the first person to remember things past. So, I figured, if other people want to talk about chocolate in Guatemala, let them have at it.

That said, I might as well speak up from time to time. So here goes: Carlos Eichenberger, of Danta Chocolate, is producing a bean-to-bar chocolate in the country of origin, in this case, Guatemala. When I met him at the symposium last year, he was buying beans through a broker. I introduced him to the owner of a farm called las Acacias in the Guatemala/Mexico border area often referred to (among chocolate fanatics) as "Soconusco" (Shawn Askinosie produces a Soconusco bar). I haven't had a chance to try one of Danta's Acacias bars yet, but I've had Carlos's chocolate and I've had las Acacias beans. Both are some of the finest specimens of their kind. The combination is a novelty worth writing about: Danta mentioned on the Chocolate Life, Danta mentioned in El Periodico.

5 Comments:

OpenID pastrynetwork said...

Nice blog!
i was wondering where you bought these chocolate bar moulds?

Thanks and regards

9:47 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Sarah said...

Hi Emily!

Just wanted to say that it was nice to meet you and hear about your chocolate adventures! Nice blog. :) Keep us posted on all your writings and future chocolate endeavors!

Sarita

1:35 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Shania said...

All I can say is this is a must-read blog. Chocolate lovers like me will definitely enjoy your informative posts. Thanks for sharing!

2:24 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Michael Szyliowicz said...

How interesting that you’re looking into Guatemalan chocolate as well as the implications of production and consumption that fuel small-scale, artisan chocolate. I look forward to hearing more about it when the time comes for you to share.

10:52 AM GMT-5  
Blogger richtl said...

Hi Emily,

It's great to hear about folks digging into Guatemala chocolate.

I've been carrying Danta Chocolate for a month or so. I've encountered few chocolates with the depth and complexity of what Carlos is producing--he does magic with those Las Acacias and Los Ujuxtes beans. And my customers love it.

Thanks for posting!

Rich Tango-Lowy
Dancing Lion Chocolate
Twitter: LoveOfChocolate

8:24 PM GMT-5  

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