Changing coca crops with palm kernels, reducing the demand for species at risk of extinction by removing them from the menus or taking advantage of the ingredients in their entirety to avoid waste are some of the effective examples of the transforming power of the kitchen presented in Bogotá Madrid Fusión.
The first session of this international gastronomic congress was inaugurated on Thursday by chef Harry Sasson, with five restaurants and considered one of those responsible for the Colombian cuisine revolution, presenting the peace crop program to replace coca bush plantations with others legal, like the palm of chontaduro.
Known in Europe and the United States in canned food and as an ingredient for salads, Harry Sasson uses it in fresh grilled with garlic and parsley stir-fry, in ceviche with Pacific prawns and marinated in fresh green pepper of Putumayo, with rice and in a cream with sauteed lobster tail in black butter.
But behind these dishes there is a struggle of the farmers of Putumayo (southwest), supported by this cook and national and international institutions, after succumbing in the eighties to the cultivation of coca, then their only means of "survival" but also causes of his "greatest suffering" with the arrival of weapons and violence.
Sasson took Edgar and Luis, two of the eight brothers of the Montenegro farming family, to the stage, an example of the success of this peace crop program.
He is not the only cook who has become aware that every performance in the kitchen has its consequences in the world. The Argentine Germán Martitegui only uses ingredients and wines from his country, although not any, in his restaurant Tegui.
Through the Tierras project, with which it is traveling the four million square kilometers of Argentina, it has discovered small producers that it has incorporated into its network and have inspired dishes that "excite diners to learn the stories behind them."
On a trip to Formosa, in the north of the country, some fishermen told him that the rice fields pour their fertilizers into the rivers and are killing very popular fish such as surubí, pacú or dorado, while others that are not marketed as piranha resist.
Martitegui decided "not to generate demand for products that are in extinction", remove from their menu the dishes with these fish and incorporate the piranha in creations that speak "of the kitchen of the possible" like the piranha broth with its fried ribs, crispy of your skin and salt-cured loins with fat mayonnaise and rice ferment.
"Sometimes there are many things that cooks are asked of, but we accept the challenge of the environment," he said.
His next challenge, after becoming a father of twins, is the food of the following generations, as well as getting the products of those small processors that the chefs discover to "reach supermarkets so that they are accessible to all."
Two Spaniards spoke of cooking. Mario Sandoval, with two Michelin stars in Coque, showed how a nine-pound pig eats from nose to tail in the form of tapas in his restaurant (and in the future Coqueto, which he plans to open in Madrid in December): pate de higaditos with sherry, ear and head pork rinds, grilled pork chops …
Maca de Castro, from the homonymous restaurant in Mallorca (northeast), spoke of the different cultures that have left their culinary mark on the island, but also how to take advantage, from the jelly lip to the thorns, the skin or the roe of San Gallo Pedro, a very popular Mediterranean fish.
Quique Dacosta, with three Michelin stars in the restaurant that bears his name in Alicante (on the Spanish East Coast) presented his Mediterranean cuisine but also a "protest dish" made with fish and plastic bag strips with which he asked for eight minutes to the diner who reflects on the damage that this material does to the sea and the mountains.
"It is a beautiful dish of protest, because the cooks not only have to do rich things but also demands, and so we will be able to end this plastics plantation in the sea," he said.
All this in a day in which the international presence was completed with the "wild cook" Ana Ros, from Hisa Franko (Slovenia), in which products from the surrounding forests such as grouse or bear fit; with the salted fish, the shrimp cured in arrope and more Mediterranean dishes of the three Spanish Michelin stars Quique Dacosta or with the kitchen that explores the different altitudes of Peru from Virgilio Martínez in Central.
He received the I Culinary Trajectory Award the anthropologist and culinary columnist Julián Estrada, who in his thanks speech defended the rural and tradition, the peasant and indigenous cuisine and regretted that now they eat more sushis and pizzas in Colombia than arepas, balls , dungeons and empanadas.
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