Mexico - Veracruz & Chiapas
Mexican spices embody nature's elements, combining heat and smoke and depth into unforgettable dishes. As the fourth most megadiverse country in the world, Mexico has an abundance of spices and herbs that have been used by traditional cooks for centuries. A guiding principle across regions and centuries has been to take simple, local ingredients, and create as much flavor as possible.
But it is also the birthplace and indigenous home of several important spices that are globally cherished: Cacao, Vanilla, Chili Pequin, and Allspice.
Cacao - Food of the Gods
Cacao, the simple bean native to South and Central America, is today a staple of food across the world, giving us such delicacies as milk chocolate, hot chocolate drinks, and chocolate chip cookies. Yet, as important as chocolate may be for us today- who can contemplate a chocolate-free Valentine's day - for the indigenous people of Central and South America, it took on an entire other form: it was the Food of the Gods. Theobroma cacao, is the scientific name of the cacao tree. The genus name, Theobroma, literally translates to “Food” (Theo) “of Gods” (broma) in Greek. The Mayans and Aztecs would use Cacao as an energy booster of sorts, or at times even as an aphrodisiac to set the mood and improve stamina. While many claimed benefits have yet to be scientifically verified, Cacao is brimming with flavonoids, nutrients that have been associated with effects such as lower blood pressure and better blood flow among others.
The Ancient, All-Natural Viagra
Dark chocolate possesses substances that affect our moods, energy, and sexual function in truly remarkable ways. Chocolate contains L-arginine, an amino acid that can be an effective natural sex-enhancer for both women and men. It works by increasing nitric oxide and promoting blood flow to your sexual organs, which increases sensation, satisfaction, and desire. Chocolate is known as a super libido food partly because it is a rich source of PEA, the acronym for phenylethylamine, sometimes referred to as the “love supplement” or the "romance chemical." As a stimulant and mood elevator, PEA can induce sensations of euphoria—and it’s naturally released by your brain when you’re in love. Chocolate really packs an aphrodisiac punch because it also contains the compound theobromine, found in tea and kola nuts as well. This substance works on the central nervous system, causing one to feel stimulated and excited.
Much of our Cacao originates in Soconusco in southern Mexico which is the birthplace of the “cacao real”, or royal cacao, which was consumed by Aztec kings and priests. Sourced from smallholder farmers, this organic cacao from Soconusco has a balanced acidity, full body profile and distinct flavours of dried fruits, nuts and several spices.
Vanilla - The Child of a Forbidden Love
The Totonacs, the native people of Mexico’s east coast, were the first to ever cultivate vanilla. According to Totonac mythology, a local Princess called Xanat
was forbidden by her father from marrying a commoner. The lovers fled to the forest only to be captured and beheaded. Where their blood touched the ground, the vine of this tropical orchid grew.
When the Aztecs conquered the region of modern-day Veracruz, they would even force the Totonac people to surrender their vanilla beans as a form of tax payment. They too regarded the sweet bean highly, and would often mix it with their spicy chocolate drink to combat the bitterness of the cacao. For centuries to come, vanilla would only be cultivated within Mexico, as it was a necessity for it to be pollinated by the Mexican Melipona Bee but with the advent of hand-pollination, it has begun to thrive in other parts of the world - most notably Madagascar.
Mexico has a long history of vanilla-growing, but a host of factors have contributed to dwindling levels of production. These include petroleum companies stripping hardwood forests in the Gulf’s vanilla-growing region, climate change, and increased production of vanilla in other parts of the world, most notably Madagascar. Each year, the majority of vanilla beans grown in Mexico – a declining total crop of less than 10 tonnes in 2019, compared to about 1,700 tonnes from Madagascar.
Preserving Mexico’s Agricultural Heritage
We aim to bring back the unique flavor profile of authentic Mexican-grown vanilla, with a sustainable, traceable, and high-quality supply chain in mind that respects the integrity of the natural ecosystem and simultaneously helps improve the living conditions of local spice-growing communities throughout Mexico.
Through our farms in Veracruz and Chiapas, we are able to offer you the most delectable varieties of authentic Mexican vanilla, chili, and cacao.
What we would like to highlight, is that all of the above spices taste absolutely wonderful - and even more so when they are grown right in the soil of their homeland and cared for by local farmers. Farmers, who have an unrivaled depth of appreciation for the spices, along with unique knowledge and expertise that have been passed down through generations.
For this reason, we are happy to offer you our own Vanilla, Cacao, Allspice and Chili Piquin straight from their birthplaces in Mexico.