As all the fellow travelers and global citizens know, sharing a traditional dish with locals is definitely one of the best ways to experience one's culture. On Wednesday, we took the idea one step further by organizing the most Amazonian dinner one could imagine - every single ingredient was straight from the forest farm of our amazing host Clemente.
Forest farm, also known as Chakra, uses agroforestry as a farming method. These farms integrate a variety of products that contribute both to rural livelihoods and biodiversity conservation including medicinal plants, fruit trees, staple crops and timber species. By growing these species in close association with one another, farmers have developed a system that makes use of natural stand dynamics that minimize labor costs and ensure agricultural production. The same land tile requires minimum input from the farmer, while providing the family all the products needed.
At first, Clemente gave us a tour on his farm, explaining all the fruit trees, edible crops and medicinal plants he grows in what seemed just a wild, thick jungle to us. He showed where the ferns, herbs, yuccas, fruits and frogs we're about to consume were found, whilst letting us harvest our own dessert.
Then the dinner itself: how does a jungle farm feed 15 hungry people? Tremendously well, we realized, as we thankfully left the farm, rolling, since everyone was so full from all the food we were served.
The menu included:
- Maito de Sapo (frog grilled in a banana leaf)
-Maito de Bagre (catfish grilled in a banana leaf)
-Palmito (heart of palm)
-Grilled Chontakuros ( Palm weevil larvae, tastes like bacon! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhynchophorus_ferrugineus)
-4 different bean varieties, cooked with jungle spinach (absolutely delicious)
-Cooked chonta ( peach palm fruit, tastes like sweet potato & packed with nutrients. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bactris_gasipaes)
- Cooked papa china ( a species of yam, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dioscorea_trifida)
- Roasted snails
- Cooked bamboo
-Sacha Inchi ( Inka peanut, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plukenetia_volubilis)
-Fried fiddleheads (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiddlehead_fern)
-a fruit salad with chocolate sauce (Cacao beans from the backyard, obviously)
If you are traveling in Ecuador and want to experience something different, the Amazonian dinner will definitely make your Tuesday evening a bit more exciting! Clemente and his family are always happy to have visitors, and the luckiest ones might get a sample of his band playing traditional Kichwa-beats during the experience.
If you are interested in Forest Foraging -dinner and chakra tour, contact Andy at email@example.com or +593-988396997.