The finest chocolate is made from native cacao. In the last 20 years cultivating cacao has been slowly improving the lives of farmers in Peru. In our country there are 16 cities that produces cacao, Ayacucho is the 6th in terms of production. In the map bellow you will see 8 Peru regions where cacao is cultivated. In 2016 production was distributed as1: San Martín (42%), Junín (19%), Cusco (9%), Ucayali (8%), Huánuco (6%), Ayacucho (5%), Amazonas (4%) and Pasco (1%). Piura is also important for its fine cacao called “porcelain or white cacao”.
My grandfather was born in Ayacucho, but this is the first time I go there. In terms of weather the best season to visit Ayacucho and other mountain cities is from march until November, the non-raining season. After reading the book “Ayacucho retrieval of the memory of its flavors” by Hector Efrain Rojas, I was surprised by the options we could try in the city. Rojas mention that some districts in La Mar province were doing local cacao festivals recently.
Cacao festivals in La Mar, Ayacucho are in march, and the harvest and production season is until June. Even with only 4 days to find our 5 must try food and drinks in Ayacucho, we decided to visit the district of Chungui in La Mar province. Chungui has 2 geographical areas: mountains and a jungle. I was very lucky to find Moner Lizana from the chocolate company Antarki SAC, he kindly connected me with 2 cacao producers. September is not cacao season in Chungui, but we find all the information we needed. It was a destine sign.
Ayacucho is a city with a beautiful natural patrimony and cultural heritage. As a culinary destination it has potential. The wild mushroom season is from January to march. February is the Carnival season. In this visit we find some (still) little edible wild mushrooms and try fresh Hearts of Palms (palmito). Definitely the experience of visiting the cacao fields, open the cacao pod and try the raw beans was the best part of the trip.
Some brands distributed in Lima: Cafe Zuma (and chocolates) and ENI Chocolate. Winner of International Chocolate Awards for its chocolate made with Ayacucho cacao: NativCao, 2019 bronze medal. Qantu: silver medal 2017, gold medal 2018, by ICA, distributed in Canada. If you are curious about Peru tradicional food and you love chocolate, you have to experience Ayacucho.