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Chef Defends Union of Amazonian Countries through Cooking

06/27/2018 - 11h21

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LUIZA FECAROTTA
SANTARÉM, PARÁ

"We want Amazonian cuisine to unite Latin America," said Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, a Peruvian chef who has been exploring the forest for 17 years.

Two weeks earlier, he had participated in a Brazilian Amazon immersion program and observed the harvesting and processing of Yellow cassava, while also learning techniques for catching Pirarucu fish and roasting them on a grill using coal and sand pits.

"What are the differences between the Peruvian and Brazilian parts of the Amazon? There are many, but the key is to focus on the similarities. What is the bond that strengthens this cooking connection?", Mr. Schiaffino inquired. "Almost all native communities in the Amazon are similar in the sense that they use the same techniques and have the same habits and taste".

Divulgacao
Peruvian chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino
Peruvian chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino

While in his first restaurant, Malabar, the chef already resorted to exotic products from the forest - which he refers to as his "giant pantry" - Ámaz, which he has run since 2012, is entirely committed to that culinary culture.

In order to transform his kitchen into an instrument that can help with conservation, Mr. Schiaffino increased contact with communities in the Amazon and is seeking to create a demand that would represent an "attractive volume for the communities".

"Another way to conserve the Amazonian culture is to mention where each product comes from." For his Cozinha Tapajós project, in Alter do Chão, he made a point of talking about Juane, a typical dish from the north of Peru which consists of chicken and rice wrapped in a bijao leaf, that can either be steamed or roasted.

Mr. Schiaffino always tries to highlight the similarities between the dishes of all nine Amazonian countries, and tries to narrow the gap between foods such as Juane and Pamonha - but he has noticed that there are differences as well. "The ingredients are the same, but the flavors are different. We need to learn how to use them".

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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