Costa do Cacau, or the “Cocoa Coast,” in southern Bahia was a pioneer front in the late 1800s and early 1900s when it experienced a cocoa boom. A century later, in the 1990s, witches’ broom disease decimated cocoa plants and led to widespread unemployment and homelessness of cocoa workers. My research sought to examine the slow recovery of the cocoa industry. While visiting state-run institutions and the Mars Research Center in Itajuipe, I stayed in the city of Ilhéus, home to Brazil’s most renowned writer, Jorge Amado (1912-2001), whose novels capture the frontier society at the turn of the century when cocoa was king and fortunes were made and lost. 

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 Bahia, Brazil 

June 2007

Chocolate as Muse

(“VOYAGE AUX PAYS DU CHOCOLAT”)