I don't claim to know too much about Tanzania. Much of what I do know actually has next to nothing much to do with food. I did study it a lot when I was in school—I remember reading about Julius K. Nyerere and his creative leadership of an emerging third-world country in the post-colonial era. And I also remember from Anthro 101 that Tanzania has the history of being home to some of the oldest fossil remains of pre-humans and all that good stuff. Then there's also the strange but true fact that like one out of ten folks that I told I'd been to Tunisia last year later seemed to ask me, "How did you like Tanzania?" But now ... thanks to the world's most passionate, highly talented, chocolate-making Missouri-based ex-attorney, Tanzania can now constructively go onto my mental map as a source of superior cacao beans.
I've been pretty high on most all the chocolate bars that Shawn Askinosie is making for a long time now, and this new one fills that same bill. The story behind the bar is actually as good as the chocolate. "It's literally a bunch of high school kids that we assigned a project to figure out what country of origin we should use for our next bar," Shawn told me. Askinosie was already working with growers in Mexico, Peru, and the Philippines, and this was to decide what country would be added to the list this last year. "The class was actually also sponsored by Drury University," Shawn shared with me. "The students met once a week for a year to research and then decide on a new country of origin. Once they picked the country we raised money for the travel. I told them from the beginning that we weren't just going to go there to travel, but that we were going to do something good for the people there too. We raised about $70,000 to pay for the travel and to dig a deep-water well for the village."