Menakao means, simply, red cocoa. And, having just cracked into a couple of the flavoured bars, I’m a bit ruddy-faced and hot under the collar too. This is not just chocolate. This is a revelation wrapped up in a nifty little 75g packet. My first ephiphany comes in the form of a dark bar prickly with a trio of peppercorns – pink, black, and the local wild ones. This isn’t anything like that silly chilli choc – these are all there for flavoursome savour; it’s tickly without becoming harsh or hot.
The slogan in ‘truly Madagascan’ and, like Ronseal, it does what it says on the tin. Or cardboard sleeve, with each Menakao box decorated with a funky portrait of a different local character, whose lifestyle has possibly benefitted considerably from the company’s bean-to-bar approach, keeping the process – and the profits – in the local economy.
Menakao has eschewed the lengthy, expensive procedure of becoming officially accredited as ‘Fairtrade’- opting instead to merely pay way above the set guideline prices for its cocoa and operate according to the guidelines in its practical dealings. The company plows the cost of the application process back into providing workers with better opportunities and standards of living – encompassing regular wages, hot showers and free lunches. Tasty stuff.
Everything from the growing to the packaging may happen indigenously, but the enjoyment of the end product is a truly international pleasure that speaks a language of its own. I don’t know of ‘combava’ until Google reveals it’s another moniker of the kaffir lime – and then I know why, combined with dark chocolate and sprightly pink pepper, it fills my mouth with such lusty, musky magic. Red cocoa, green ethics, black magic. Menakao‘s chocolate is solid gold.
- Menakao chocolate is available at Paul A. Young’s London shops and through the online store.
- For more information visit www.menakao.com