"In Peru, A Hunt For Chocolate Like You've Never Tasted It"

Researchers are discovering previously unknown species of the cacao bean in the rainforests of Peru.

"Christopher Columbus first encountered the cacao bean on his final voyage to the New World some 500 years ago. It took a while for Europeans to embrace the taste — one 16th-century Spanish missionary called the chocolate that indigenous people drank "loathsome."

But by the 17th century, chocolate met sugar, and it became a hit the world over — it's now a $93 billion a year global industry, according to market research firm Mintel.

Centuries and countless foil-wrapped bars later, it turns out we've barely begun to sample the many flavors that nature has to offer to satisfy our chocolate cravings. Scientists from the USDA's Agricultural Research Service recently reported discovering three previously unknown varieties of wild cacao in the Amazon rainforest of Peru."

Maria Godoy reports for NPR's food blog, The Salt, October 11, 2011.
 

Source: NPR, 10/11/2011