Hansa chocolate. This chunk cost Rs. 240.
Many awesome things have come to South America to Sri Lanka – chili, chocolate – via the Portugeuse, among others. Other things were brought, in commercial form, by the British, namely coffee and tea. Chili and tea have taken solid root here, but chocolate and coffee have kinda not. Not entirely. While you can get a spicy meal and plain tea anywhere, locally grown coffee and chocolate is hard to find.
One place/brand is Hansa. I’ve had Hansa coffee at home and I find it very difficult to make and far inferior to Nescafe. That said, in terms of coffee shops, I much prefer Hansa (Sinhala) because it’s authentic, not pretentious and – most important of all – cheap. The idea that coffee needs to be $5 is a bit crazy, unless it’s been excreted by some exotic animal. The idea that coffee should be that price in Sri Lanka is… I’ve already said crazy, it’s just madness. I don’t enjoy the experience of meeting at, say Coffee Bean or even Coco Veranda, simply because it’s so expensive and so faux homey.
Plus I don’t really like coffee. So if I’m grabbing a cup of something I’m not that into, I’d rather do it at Hansa, where they brew local coffee decently and cheaply. Anyways.
We dropped by yesterday and the coffee shop now has chocolate. As in, they have cacao beans, which I tried (bitter, unpleasant) which they roast and mash into chocolate slabs which are then broken into sellable pieces. So they have these saran wrapped shards of chocolate for sale, 70% cacao, 30% brown sugar. I don’t like chocolate either, but I actually like these. Perhaps it’s the experience, knowing that it comes from a plant, knowing it comes from somewhere. I somehow have higher standards for commercial products (like a restaurant meal) than for things where I know the people and process (a home-cooked meal).
Hence, I enjoyed the chocolate, though objectively you could say it’s a bit grainy and has a bitter aftertaste. I still like it. We gave it to other people and they didn’t seem to like it much at all, much to my surprise. I tried some Kandos cooking chocolate (also from Sri Lankan cacao) and found it less aftertastey, but still so commercial that it changed my standards and then failed them.
Anyways, Savan ‘broke’ this story on YAMU earlier. Check it out, there’s some more photos there.