El Cacaotal Chocolate Tasting

29356627_10156205236974618_4501804735599032424_n****Updated address on May 29, 2021**** El Cacaotal has always been located on Jirón Colina, but it’s been in three locations. Currently, the address is Jirón Colina 111.

Chocolate tasting class? For as little as 60 soles (20 bucks) or 120 soles (40 bucks), you can learn all about chocolate, where it’s grown in Peru, where it comes from, how to taste it, what it should sound like, snap like, smell like, and so on… but, no fear, the class is not intimidating. AJ is clearly an expert (she really is — see below), but she is so warm and friendly that you hardly feel like you are sitting on a school bench.

497BF684-20B3-4B0E-8416-C67AD88394A6AJ is an American anthropologist who did her graduate degree in chocolate!  Then she opened up a shop to share the knowledge and help Peru’s chocolate field. Her shop is called El Cacaotal (cocoa field) and it’s decorated with dried cacao tree leaves and everything chocolate (or items in support of non-chocolate small entrepreneurs). The shop is located on Jirón Colina 111 in Barranco (two streets west from the Metro grocery store on Grau, down the street from a yellow corner building).

AJ’s chocolate tasting classes can be in English or Spanish and at the end, you will be in situ to buy chocolate! The chocolate is sustainable small batch delicious healthy dark chocolate, but you can ignore that if you want and just enjoy the delicious varieties of chocolate from all over Peru.

FCAF90F4-D7D3-4CD6-A90B-14E910A2AC62I emailed to set up a class for seven of us (she can fit up to ten in a class). Her email is: elcacaotalperu@gmail.com. Make it a thing you do when you visit Lima.

Ou5Ux2uwEyBZfzlMsIPcXoIhM67zsQJTGAB58a-3D31P5deqfMaw2YdHVbgZ76LNTkIHxZDGdKhhCZfGrPHdz18cZDhsJ-LiP_lg-f6-q4XCMAcueWscqwLNmtVTL1pLDbM27jYgtS530sBmBS649cJlmws8YXUgWVcq7ftE7jxoSNnWFeM1V31MU3Read a much more thorough article about her on Living in Peru

I’ll be too busy eating chocolate, because, did I mention that I don’t even really like chocolate? So I’ll be trying to find one that I really do like… And not just the world champion from last year… I’ll give them all a try! Even the (healthy, sigh) spreadable version.


Address: Jirón Colina 111 in Barranco

Email: elcacaotalperu@gmail.com

Happy, Healthy, and Educated Slum Kids – ABC Charity School

A brilliant smile of health.
A brilliant smile of health.

A toothbrush is a small sign of hope. But, at the Eglal’s ABC Charity School in Dhaka, the fact that the kids brush their teeth every day, get fed every day, and get an education every day — is a tiny sign of hope. The children at the ABC school all live in the slums of Dhaka. These children are lucky that they, once they get admitted to kindergarten, will receive a bilingual education, free health care, free lunch, daily showers, uniforms, toothbrushes, and mentoring through high school and, hopefully, beyond.

It only costs $250 to sponsor one kid for one year, and all the money goes to the school. The volunteer board, the volunteer teachers, and so on, do not take any of the money. There are a few staff who do get paid, but mostly the donations go directly to the education and welfare of the kids. While there are a plethora of charities to throw oneself into in Bangladesh. I chose this one. Visiting the school allowed me to see how little money it takes to provide a bit of protein and vegetables for a healthy mind. Food for thought.

Education in Bangla and English from kindergarten!
Education in Bangla and English from kindergarten!

Another thought is how well run this place is without the bureaucracy. When the school and board members realized that some of the children (many who are being raised by one a single parent) had to leave school to go work, the school put into place an incentive which when paid to the family, keeps the kid in school. So basically the kid’s job is to go to school. How nice is that?

The school goes through the eighth grade, after which the children are place in high schools. These graduates come back to teach at the school when they themselves are not in school. One young woman says that her hope is to go on to university after which she wants to return to run the ABC school.

These girls are so eager to learn.
These girls are so eager to learn.

The ABC school was started about ten years ago by a teacher at the American International School Dhaka. She has returned to the U.S. but her students now have “pen pal” skype sessions with the slum kids of the ABC school. How cool is that?

One egg a day. The kids can eat more rice and vegetables but protein is expensive.
One egg a day. The kids can eat more rice and vegetables but protein is expensive.

It is said that they more you give, the more you will receive. I hope that the kids at the ABC school get way more than I have given them.

Parents picking up kids at the ABC school.
Parents picking up kids at the ABC school.