Under the reign of Inca Yupanqui (Pachacuti) and his son Tupak Yupanqi, the Incas conquered the region of the ‘Chunchos', a term used for the native peoples dwelling along the rivers of the rainforest, in the second half of the 15th century. The cocoa that was named after them grows in the biologically complex area of the high jungle of Cusco, in the province of La Convención, still considered a drug trafficking area. Despite all the difficulties, Chuncho cocoa has managed to make its way naturally, as if it was aware of the fact that it has been recognized as one of the best cocoas in the world. With all the necessary strength it pushes La Convención, its home, towards a better future.
Chuncho is a Creole cocoa and the one with the highest demand in Peru. At least 80% of the 20,000 hectares of Chuncho crops grown in the department of Cusco are located in the province of La Convención. The cocoa plantations are mainly cultivated by Machiguenga communities. Chuncho is a native, yellow-rinded cacao characterized by its purity, fine aroma and fruity notes. It is a cocoa of intense flavor with a fat content of 52% (cocoa is considered high-quality from a fat content of 50% on).
The French maître chocolatier Stéphane Bonnat elaborated a chocolate bar based on Chuncho cocoa for which he won first place at the 2013 European Gold Awards.
Cusco - The City
The tour of the food of the gods includes a stop in a city whose origin trails away in ancient times: Cusco, which in Quechua means “navel of the world”. The legend goes that around the 12th century, Manco Cápac and his sister and wife Mama Ocllo, both demigods and children of father Inti (the sun god), emerged from the waters of Lake Titicaca with the mission of founding a new kingdom to improve the lives of the peoples living in the area.
This is how the Tahuantinsuyo was born, the great empire of the Incas, stretching from Colombia in the north to Northern Chile and Argentina in the south, and whose capital was Cusco.
In its stone streets and its surroundings, history left traces which today are an invaluable treasure and make Cusco a World Heritage Site. Every year, the city hosts more than 3,000 popular festivals, the majority of which follow both the native and the Christian calendar, which was adopted after the Spanish occupation in 1533.
Visitors can stroll through its historic center, the archeological site of Sacsayhuamán, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and a bit further away, the eternal Machu Picchu and the Inca trail. And cacao? You will find it anywhere you go. Cusco is the only city in Peru which both produces and actually consumes its own cacao.
How to get there:
The easiest way to get to Cusco is by plane. Daily flights in various times from Jorge Chavez International Airport. Flight time: 1hr.
The city of Cusco offers a huge array of hotels and hostels. Make sure you reserve a head of time.
In your visit to Maranura and Quillabamba, we recommend “El Mangal”: Av. Edgar de La Torre S/N Maranura La Convención - Distrito de Maranura, Quillabamba, Región de Cusco, + 984382708.
Where to book a visit to a hacienda:
For your guided visit you can also enquire at “El Mangal”.
Choco Museo: www.chocomuseo.com
El Mangal – Maranura: www.elmangal.amawebs.com
Patricia Yep chocolate: www.facebook.com/CHOCOLATEcusco.peru
El Hala: www.elhada.com
Senzo: Palacio Nazarenas www.palacionazarenas.com
Patricia Yep, Chocolate Shop
Patricia Yep, chocolate shop: The ideal place to try fine chocolates, special drinking chocolate recipes, chocolate combined with fruit like physalis, chocolate in jars, and a great variety of chocolate bars.
San Pedro Market
Exclusive sale of cacao paste, cacao liquor, chocolates and different cocoa derivatives in one section of the market.
Café El Ayllu
Serves different varieties of drinking chocolate, offering an experience you can’t miss out on. This way of consuming cacao refers back to the original usage of chocolate, which, even under Spanish influence, was initially a beverage.
Artisanal ice-cream. Try the one made of Chuncho cacao from Quillabamba. Also offering desserts and coffee from coffee roasters Tostaduría Bisetti.
Cusco, Choco Museo
At the chocolate museum you can learn more about the history of chocolate, take a class in chocolate making and then do some tasting at the café. The owners, French couple Alain Schneider and Clara Isabel Dias, moved to Cusco because of the city’s rich history and its relation to cacao. At the museum, you can also book a tour to the valley of La Convención, where cacao is grown, harvested and processed.
El Mangal – Maranura
Farm/lodge on an area of 15 hectares. The region offers a microclimate which favors the diversity of the flora with plants such as coffee, cocoa, achiote, coca, mango, citrus fruit, passion fruit, pacae, cassava and uncucha. Tourists can stay at El Mangal or visit the farm to see the cocoa fields and learn how to make artisanal chocolate.
Profiteroles filled with vanilla ice-cream and bathed in hot chocolate.
Chocolate pa'ti (warm chocolate truffle cake topped with orange and mandarin segments in limo chilli, yellow chilli and rocoto jelly).
Chocolate bar (organic chocolate bar in three textures, with Tahiti vanilla sauce, scented with white rum), warm chocolate tartlet.
A project by Chef Virgilio Martínez. Physalis and cocoa, Chocolate soup and chocolate sponge simulating a pond.
Hawa, Tambo del Inka
A project by Chef Rafael Casin. Fiesta de chocolate, with white and black chocolate mousse, jelly made of capulin cherry from Urubamba, shaved mint ice and pure cacao sauce from Quillabamba, or Gianduja chocolate mousse bathed in milk chocolate ganache, Nutella ice-cream, caramel fire, bitter chocolate mirror.