An evening of chocolate and tagua was staged at the Croatian Cultural Center in California’s San Pedro as part of the cooperation Between the Center and the Croatian Heritage Foundation branch office in Split in their programme to link with the Croatians of the southern and northern Pacific.

The evening was dedicated to Ecuadorian Lourdes Delgado, the wife of Croatian Simon Panzic – she was selected as Ecuador’s woman of the year in 2011 as a leading cacao and chocolate producer. She is the co-owner of the London-based company Seventy%, which operates a number of stores around the world. Lourdes produces chocolate under the brand name Chucululu, packed in colourful boxes of fabric with folklore motifs.
Lourdes, who lives in Guayaquil, hails from a family that has produced cacao and chocolate for four generations, and was educated in London and Boston. Ecuadorian cacao is the finest in the world and is mostly exported to the USA, Germany and Belgium.
Lourdes Delgado, however, also has an artistic bent, and manufactures jewellery from tagua, the nut of the ivory palm or vegetable ivory. The palm bears nuts every fifteen years and the nuts need to be dried for three months before being suitable for carving. In the mid-nineteenth century buttons were fashioned from the nut and exported to Europe. This was the reason Croatians settled in Ecuador at the time. Tagua continues to be used for buttons, but only in limited series for fashion designers such as Valentino and Versace.
On Saturday, January 17th an exhibition of jewellery and chocolate by Lourdes Delgado Pandzic was staged at the Croatian Cultural Center in San Pedro, with many Croatians and Ecuadorians on hand, joined by members of the diplomatic corps in Los Angeles. Also worthy of note are the efforts of Ecuadorian Elba Berruz, a friend of the Center who has worked to link the two nations. The event was opened with a welcome address from the Center’s president, Maya Bristow.
The Croatian Cultural Center of Greater Los Angeles was founded in 2001 and is located in a historical former bank building erected in 1928. The ribbon was cut at the opening by then city councillor Rudy Svorinich Jr. and the City of Los Angeles offered the premises to Croatians for the organisation of culture events. Over time the CCC has become a recognised venue for art exhibitions, theatre plays and film screenings, poetry evening and book promotions. The Izvor vocal group is also active at the Center.
CCC president Maya Bristow and vice presidents Frane Jerkovic and Mark Lorrin proudly emphasise that the Center was the first venue for a performance of the works of Croatian composers by the string quartet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic on the occasion of Croatian Statehood Day 2014.

Text by: Branka Bezić Filipović