ECUADOR’S CHOCOLATE BECOMES A NOTORIOUS TOURISM ATTRACTION
Visitors to Ecuador are not only stunned by the fantastic diversity that the country in the Middle of the World boasts, with its varied geography, scenery, cultural expressions and world-recognized biodiversity. Perhaps not very widely known abroad, Ecuadorian gastronomy has been praised by travelers who “discover” the enormously rich and tasteful variations of the country’s traditional cuisine. Following an international trend where food has become more and more important within a travel experience, Ecuador’ cuisine begins to acquire international recognition, thanks to a massive effort to rescue and highlight some of the best recipes of its ancestral cuisine. A new generation of imaginative young Chefs is now competing internationally with some outstanding combinations of tastes and textures, based upon the nations’ culinary tradition and produce.
Within this rapidly spreading trend, a new element is taking stellar positions under the spotlight (and the palate) of national and international experts, and, of course, delighting the visiting tourists: chocolate…. For decades, Ecuador has been the producer of some of the best cocoa in the world. With modern technology and increasing care, Ecuador’s cocoa, the base-element for chocolate-making is now recognized among the finest aroma cocoa in the world and many consider it “The Very Best”. Chocolate makers from the planet’s most reputed havens for this ancestral delicacy, among them Switzerland, France and Belgium; nowadays eagerly search for the “best of the best” cocoa, scouting especially the inner countryside of Ecuador’s Pacific coast, looking for the best quality fruits, which will serve as the base for the planets most famous and delicious chocolates.
Last week, the Catholic University of Ecuador, on its Quito campus, was the venue for the fourth Edition of “The Chocolate Salon, Ecuador 2012”. The event brought dozens of exhibitors from around the country and many international specialists such as Chloe Doutre-France; Steven Devries, United States and Serge Thiry-Belgium. The center of attraction was, of course, Ecuador’s cocoa and chocolates, growing in quality and mind-boggling varieties.
The event was enhanced by creative ways to generate interaction between the cocoa producers; professional chocolatiers and even the public. Contests to nominate the best chocolate bar or the best homemade chocolate cakes were staged and prompted the fruit’s producers; chocolate makers, chefs and pattiseurs; buyers, sellers and public, to enjoy one of the most fantastic displays of this world recognized delicacy, an ancestral product of the tropical Americas. Workshops, conferences and specialized courses for gastronomy students and professionals, as well as activities for adults, youngsters and children were also featured on a fantastic tribute to the king of sweets: chocolate; staged right in the land where the best cocoa in the world is grown and now increasingly exported worldwide.
The event was organized by several public, private and international institutions who added value to the promotion of this unique element, as one of the country’s attractions. The Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador will use Ecuadorian chocolates and cocoa as a prominent element of its tourism promotion on some 40 national and particularly international Tourism and Travel Fairs along this year. Meanwhile, the Ecuadorian-French Chamber of Commerce will provide technical assistance to improve the quality of both the raw material and the elaborated products, using its renowned culinary vocation and experience. Tourists visiting Ecuador, in the meantime, can well be treated to a host of amazing chocolate experiences, such as shrimp and chocolate canapés or rose petals, smeared in chocolate sauces….