Cacao and San Marzano Tomatoes
Posted by Jeff Stern on August 24, 2015
Say you have a fine flavor, single origin cacao which is as highly recognized as San Marzano tomatoes. The Chuao bean from Venezuela immediately comes to mind.
San Marzano tomatoes have a protected denomination or origin (Denominazione Origine Protetta in Italian) - cacao does not. Stringent crtieria are enforced by the government to maintain the integrity of the San Marzano tomato brand and flavor. Cacao has no such denomination of protected origin. While there is a law on the books in Ecuador for a protected denomination of origin for Arriba Nacional beans, enforcement (or even knowledge of the law) is almost non-existent in Ecuador, and even less so abroad.
Police regularly seize tomatoes falsely labeled with the San Marzano DOP. This never happens for cacao with a misleading label.
Chuao again comes to mind-supposedly there is more chocolate on the market by weight with the Chuao label, than there are beans available for sale for the amount being produced. So it can't be all Chuao, or at least not all pure Chuao.
Chocolate manufacturers label their chocolates with single origin, but there is no oversight or laws that state what per cent of cacao has to be from the origin. How do we know it's not a blend?
It's completely up to the consumer to know the difference, and see through the marketing. When it comes to chocolate, we're still drinking Chianti, and too often believing it's Montrachet Grand Cru, or eating generic tomatoes, and believing they are San Marzano.