Chinita Nibs

September 21, 2007

Well, I saw the above chocolate bar at the point of sale in Falletti's, a local fancy market. I was APPALLED. My adolescent years came rushing back, and there I was again, being called 'chinita-this' and 'chinita-that' and just plain 'ole chinita, without technically being a chinita. I almost cried me a fricking river, right then and there, and it would have melted all of that nicely displayed chocolate and made a big fricking chocolate chinita river.

The back of the bar reads: "Named in tribute to the beloved patron virgin of Maracaibo, who protected the famed regions' cacao growers in Venezuela, the Chinita Nibs bar melds our private blend of premium dark chocolate with fresh nutmeg and caramelized cacao nibs."

A patron virgin, eh?

A tourist info site called 'Venezuela Tuya' (Your Venezuela) recounts the story thusly (emphasis mine):

Until the middle of the 18th century the Marabinos' main spiritual devotions were the Saints Pedro and Juan de San Sebastian and the Virgen del Rosario de Chiquinquira. The last one had been brought to Maracaibo at the end of the 17th century by Don Juan Nieves de Andrade. The pious man built a modest hermitage out of mud and sticks and put in its interior a piece of wood with a copy of the Virgen del Rosario de Chiquinquira image worshiped in Santa Fe de Bogota at Nueva Granada (today Colombia).

As the time passed by, the painting on the wood vanished and so did the religious interest in the Virgin. The piece of wood got lost and on a morning of 1749 at dawn, an old woman who washed clothes in the lake waters, found it.
Totally unaware of its origins, took it home, where she used it to cover a clay jar. Then one day she noted the Virgin's image on the piece of wood; she hung it on a wall and turned it into an object of veneration. On October 18th, the peace and quietness of the house was upset by strange sounds and some sort of noisy movements.

When the lady looked for the cause of the disturbance, her eyes were caught by the Virgin's image on the wood, which was brighten with glittering lights. Bewildered at the wonder of the event the woman fell on her knees before the image of a tender looking Virgin with tanned skin and almond shaped eyes, who was holding in her arms a child of ravishing beauty. The Virgin's blurred image had turned into a breathtaking vision that made the old lady shout out loud "Miracle! Miracle! It's a miracle" Soon the whole neighbourhood joined in, to contemplate and marvel at the astonishing event.

The humble house became a place for praying and worshipping God's Mother and is presently a temple, home of the Patroness Saint. There, mass is celebrated and the famous wood is exhibited on the altar where you can distinctly see the splendid Virgin's image.

So this here 18th century miracle has some almond-shaped eyes, so she gets to be The Little Chinese Girl Virgin (Mary).

So I thought, why not face my nightmares and buy the chocolate bar, and eat it, and see if it's any good. In the last few years, my family has become a bit of the chocolate family, with my cousin starting a chocolate cafe (featuring gourmet bars) and my dad buying a cacao production company in Quito, where he retired. You could see how it might even be my duty to try it.

So I did.

And unfortunately, it was pretty tasty.

If you're actually of Chinese heritage, you might relish it with a modicum of pride intact.




was that a dis at me? i think it's as wrong to like a film without seeing it as it is to dislike it. jus saying.
no, not at all.