We’re many of us on a first name basis with chocolate varietals now; so I conclude from the dessert menu with which The Red Lion in East Chislebury (Wiltshire) presented me last week: “Olive oil genoise with Wiltshire strawberries, candied almonds & guanaja pudding”.

Guanaja is an island off the coast of Honduras, a small, densely-inhabited place only about three by eleven miles in size. It’s where Christopher Columbus first encountered chocolate. It’s the name of a well-known bitter chocolate Valrhona bar, named in its honor. The chocolate is, as I understand, no more made from purely Guanajan beans than hamburgers are all made in Hamburg, although the beans are likely to originate from fewer possible continents.

Interest in food origins is likely to only exacerbate this trend, which already shows itself in varietals of squash and rare breed meats which end up on menus by their first name alone. I’ve yet to have anyone be surprised that I had not already met these cryptically-labeled foods – a side of Crown Prince, for example – but it’s only a matter of time before a mystery intersects someone else’s commonplace.

As for the guanaja pudding, it was a delicate dollop, rendered smooth and gentle with sugar and cream, a small island in an archipelago of sponge cake and strawberries.

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*© S. Worthen 2009