Mexican Architect Ana started Mucho with a clear goal: to promote Mexican cacao and its rich history to her fellow countrymen (and women) and to the rest of the world
Ana’s first step towards this goal was to found the MUCHO-Chocolate Museum. The museum is located in Mexico City and educates visitors about chocolate, its history, how it’s made and its cultural significance. It was opened in 2012 and is a “Must See” for any chocolate lover or indeed any visitor to Mexico city
One thing led to another and, in mid 2015, Ana then started Mucho Chocolate as a way to further educated and immerse people in the world of Mexican cacao. Using he knowledge and the museum’s network, she is working with farmers across different regions of Mexico to produce fine chocolate with a uniquely Mexican flavour.
This is a very special bar that celebrates Mexico’s intertwined and complex relationship with Spain through three key products; silver, cocoa and cochineal. While most students of South American history are aware of the Spanish Empire’s lust for silver and Columbus’ “discovery” of Cacao on his third voyage, the story of cochineal is less well known.
The cochineal is an insect in the suborder Sternorrhyncha, from which the natural dye carmine is derived. The Aztec and Maya peoples of Central and North America used cochineal as a traditional natural dye for colouring textiles in South and Central America to yield beautiful, lightfast and permanent scarlets, pinks and reds. Cochineal was so important in Mexico that the Aztec ruler, Moctezuma I (Montezuma or Motezuma), levied an annual tribute of cochineal dye on dependent states in the 15th century and cochineal became Mexico’s second most valuable export after silver in the colonial period. Cochineal produced a deeper and longer lasting red than madder and therefore the cochineal red dye was very highly valued. The Spanish kept the source of cochineal secret and cochineal was thought to be a plant seed for nearly 200 years. The dyestuff was consumed throughout Europe and was so highly prized that its price was regularly quoted on the London and Amsterdam Commodity Exchanges. Amazingly the Spanish and Mexicans managed to keep a monopoly of cochineal production right up until the Mexican War of Independence in 1810–1821. Large-scale production of cochineal emerged, especially in Guatemala and the Canary Islands; it was also cultivated in Spain and North Africa.
The middle of the 19th Century saw the discovery of artificial dyes including alizarin crimson, causing a significant financial shock in Spain as a major industry almost ceased to exist. The delicate manual labour required for the breeding of the insect could not compete with the modern methods of the new industry, and even less so with the lowering of production costs. The “tuna blood” dye (from the Mexican name for the Opuntia fruit) stopped being used and trade in cochineal almost totally disappeared in the course of the 20th century. However in the last few years as commercial synthetic red dyes were found to be carcinogenic, the use of cochineal has reemerged as a food colourant and in lipstick (E20 or Natural Red 4).
This bar has a most distinctive taste — its salty and spicy, almost like a margarita and also has hints of chili