autumn/winter edition 2013
The Puppet Master
The magic of a bygone era
Cooking Classes Rule Love & Madness From Mexico
The Secrets of Cinco de Mayo
absolutely g lor ious
Chimichurri is South America’s most famous herbaceous vinaigrette sauce, an essential accompaniment to any beef, chicken, sausage, pork, seafood or game dish. Dorina Chimchurri Sauce is made to the authentic Argentinean recipe passed down through the generations. The Age Epicure describes it as essential as tomato sauce in Argentinean food, Barbecuing guru Bob Hart (3AW) describes it as “absolutely glorious”. It is hand made, gluten free, no added sugar, cholesterol free and has no preservatives and additives. Simply drape it on your favourite dish, as well as salads, rice and tuna. Dorina Chimichurri Sauce comes in two flavours, traditional mild and Hot (300ml jars/Catering pack also available). Available at Thomas Dux Grocers, Casa Iberica, La Mana Direct, ‘Oasis’ Bakery, Toscano’s, Frootz on Parade, King & Godfree and more.
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Australian Latin Flavours Magazine is published by Insubstantial Pageant Media. Editor David James Creative Director Leonardo Carbonara Layout Design Mattia Scaranto Photography Ines Colombo, Leonardo Carbonara Contributors Bob Hart, Eduardo Gomez, Peter Farmer, Cecilia Baubeta
Contents Features 10
The Cooking Class Revolution Latin cooking style comes from the home and Australians are learning the art
The Puppet Master An Argentinean artist is reviving the magic of a bygone era
Restaurant Reviews - Lulos’ Imaginative Combinations - Kanela Flamenco Tapas Bar
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La Movida Local Restaurants, Special Stores, Music...
Advertising / Sales 0412785536 / 03 9563 0134 email@example.com
La Movida International Latin festivals from around the world
Cinco de Mayo The little known story of the popular Mexican festival.
Australians in Latin America The emigration has been sparse, but it has been unusual.
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facebook.com/latinflavours All articles are the property of the publisher. The views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the editor, publisher or other agents. All the contents of Latin Flavours are only for general information and/or use. Such contents do not constitute advice and should not be relied upon in making (or refraining from making) any decision. No representations, warranties or guarantees whatsoever are made as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, suitability or applicability of the information to a particular situation. The Editor, Publisher or their agents will not accept any responsibility and cannot be held liable for damages (including, without limitation, damages for loss of any kind) errors or omissions, or for any consequences arising from any reliance on the information published in the Australian Latin Flavours Magazine.
Love And Madness Importing the works of Mexican artisans has its challenges, but the rewards are many
What’s Selling A guide to the most popular products on the Latin scene
Fruit Paste Membrillo, or quince paste, is well known, but it is only part of the Latin fare
Recipe Booklet - Pan De Batata - Garlic Prawns - Cutlets with Jamon (prosciutto) - Chupe de Mani - Pato con Peras - Crema Catalana - Leche frita Dinner Coffee
La movida local Latin food can be enjoyed in many restaurants in Melbourne, but it has always been a cuisine primarily intended for the home. In this edition we look at classes designed to teach people to replicate the tastes of Latin food in their own cooking. Oscar Yanez, the Peruvian-born chef at The Green Grocer in Fitzroy, who hosts classes in Latin street food, says the key to the food is freshness. He believes it should be accessible to most home cooks. We interview a number of teachers who say they are witnessing a rising interest in learning about Latin dishes. The influence of Latin culture is emerging in retail. The artefacts shop Amor Y Locura (Love and Madness) is, as the name suggests, slightly mad and powered by a great love of Mexican culture. Its combinations of love, death and the sacred are intense. Mandy Paton, the owner, is nothing if not passionate. Her shop is full of religious icons, antique furniture, architectural antiques and folk art.
Someone who is passionate in a different way is Gonzalo Varela, who with his wife Lucy has created a world from another time at Magic Lantern in Brunswick Street. As soon as one walks in, one is immediately taken to another time before cinema, let alone iPads and Twitter. It is an entry into a period when mechanical, rather than electronic devices, were the main source of illusion and diversion. Puppets peer down from the shelves, quaint, long
forgotten contraptions such as light boxes are everywhere. Curiosities, ephemera and optical toys are everywhere. Anyone who is looking for a Phenakistoscope (a precinema optical toy) should look no further. The same goes for those who desire a Zoetrope (an animated device that looks like a dish). Book pop ups, telescopes and shadow theatre are all readily available. The Magic Lantern is certainly worth a visit. On the music side the Andean world music band Kjarkas will have its Australian tour on the 15th of June at the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre and a final show on the 16th of June at the Big Top, Luna Park Sydney. For those wishing to develop their Latin dancing skills, there are many options. Melsamba hosts Brazilian dance classes, as well as percussion classes. Melbourne Salsa has group classes and individual tuition. Tango can be learned from Dance with Kristina, where students can gain an understanding of the basic steps and rhythms. Over recent decades there has been reasonably strong migration from Latin America and Spain to Australia, but not so much from Australia to Latin America. But there are exceptions, and we look at a couple. One was an extraordinary attempt in the nineteenth century to create a Utopia in Paraguay, which, although ultimately a failure, was certainly not lacking in endeavour. More recently, there has been heavy Australian interest in Chile, an economy that bears remarkable similarities to Australiaâ€™s. Most of this is in the mining sector, where both countries have a similarly long history of commercial success. -- David James.
La Movida International
Argentina The Humahuaca Carnival in the North West of Argentina occurs on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday. It is ablaze with folkloric dancing, mock fights and the serious imbibing of chicha, a local brew made from fermented maize. One of the highlights is the dance known as the Zamba, in which couples wave corn cobs. The emphasis is on giving thanks to Mother Earth, Pachamama. The Bariloche Chocolate Festival at San Carlos de Bariloche is an opportunity to see the world’s largest chocolate bar and a giant Easter egg, while consuming the delicious stuff. For the more alcoholically inclined there is the Tour Urbano Autumn wine tour. In March and April Buenos Aires stages its Cuidanza, an outdoor dance festival.
Brazil In April, the “It’s All True” Film Festival focuses exclusively on South American documentaries. It screens more than 150 non-fiction and experimental films at venues across São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia. In April, Brazil recognises the rich cultural heritage derived from its indigenous peoples with the Dia do Indio (Day of the Indian), held in Rio de Janeiro. The festival features exhibitions, indigenous dance performances and screenings of films at the Museu do Indio.
Chile The Latin American Cooking Festival takes place in Santiago in April. It features chefs from Chile, Peru, Brazil and elsewhere on the continent. Restaurants offer menus prepared by chefs from two different countries, accompanied by the very best of Chilean wines.
Peru On Easter Monday, a statue of Jesus known as Taitacha Temblores, the Black Lord of Earthquakes, is paraded through Cuzco. The festival dates back to 1650, when a devastating earthquake was reportedly kept away by people holding up an oil painting of the crucified Jesus. The Christian elements were merged with the pre-Christian God of Earthquakes, resulting in the sooty statue, which has a crown of crimson flowers.
Mexico Xochimilco hosts its Festival of the Prettiest Flower in March and April, honouring the goddesses of flowers. The intention is to ensure a good harvest. Local beauties parade around in their finery with flowers in their hair. Cuernavaca, known as the City of Eternal Spring, also has a flower show in the autumn months. Its festival has a rodeo, street theatre and fairground rides as well. In May there is the Mexico Festival, when local and international musicians and artists perform in the squares, palaces, cloisters and temples of the capital’s historic centre, Zócalo Square. 6
Amor y Locura
Importing the works of Mexican artisans has its challenges, but the rewards are many Minimising risk is normally a high priority in business. But for Mandy Paton, owner of the Mexican artefacts shop Amor y Locura (Love and Madness), taking on risk has become a way of life. Yet if it is a slightly insane way of conducting business it is rescued by a love of Mexico and its culture. “You just don’t know what is going to happen,” says Mandy. “Once I am there and have bought the product it takes three to six months to come here. I don’t know what will happen in between.” The first container Mandy imported from Mexico was delayed for months in the United States, due to suspicion that it was a drugs importation. The investigation almost sent Mandy bankrupt. Delays continue to occur each time, although they are not often as severe. Shipping is only the beginning of the uncertainty. “Is the artisan going to die, which has happened in the past? Are they going to produce what I have actually ordered, which very rarely happens? They’ll just pop in whatever, even though I have paid for it already. Is it going to make it to the port on time? Is all the paperwork correct? What are the delays going to be? Is it going to get rifled through and damaged? I never know when I open a container what is going to be in it. That is the biggest challenge.” Standard protections offer little help. “I don’t really believe in insurance, I think they are a big scam. If you want to make a small claim, the time it takes to make that claim and the excess, means that you probably should be self insured anyway.”
New Zealand born, Mandy first began importing from Argentina for her own use. Characteristically, she punted all her money on her first shipment and had thought she lost everything when she was mistakenly given the wrong container. Autumn/Winter Edition
Business She then started selling the artefacts, becoming known as the “Argentina girl”. But progressively she moved towards Mexican artefacts. She acknowledges she has an “obsession” with them. “I buy directly from the artisans. I travel as far as possible to get to the villages to meet the people. I will just find a local and ask them to take me there. This is what I want to do. Mexico is one of those places where you just meet people and everybody wants to help you. It is really easy to be taken under the wing of people there if they know you are interested in their culture and their country.”
“His (Posada’s) art and his story telling were accessible to the people. It was distributed in the squares. It was free, so it communicated even to the poor. And because it was satirical he was allowed to get away with things that other people would have been put in jail for. In fact he was put in jail a number of times because of what he was saying. But you can say things with humour and get away with it better than if you just say it outright.” Mandy conducts most of her marketing on line, and uses public relations to raise her profile. Predicting what will work and what will not is problematic. “Retail is always a mystery. One week it will be one thing and another week it will be something else. The chairs are popular in summer. I love summer so I am better at buying summer things.” Mandy believes that the interest in Mexican culture and art is growing, which she attributes to a desire to escape from some aspects of modern life. “I think we are interested in the culture because it is so different to ours. We have got a bit obsessed with commercialising our world and we are anxiety based. We have taken (materialism) to a different level. In Mexico, you can be poor and happy and it is all about family and what you can eat that night and who you can hang out with. But we are obsessed with the money side of things. So I think the contrast appeals to Australians.” And what advice does Mandy have for anyone considering importing artisanal products from Mexico? “Don’t do it. It is a really difficult. I love it because I love the product but it is a really difficult place to do business.
Mandy focuses on ethical buying and tries to ensure that the artisans get the full profit from their work. She avoids buying from third parties unless it is unavoidable. Corruption, she says, hangs heavily over the small towns. “Most of their businesses have been ruined by corruption. It is a pretty sad situation. Many of them want to marry you and come and live in Australia. I put a ring on my finger when I am over there. “I know most of the people I am purchasing from, which is really beautiful. As the business is called Love and Madness there is an element of madness to it. It is really just whatever I love when I see it. I have always liked unique things. As soon as something is the same it bores me. It forces me to go off the beaten track and do things very differently every time I go there. I will try to add on a little town or village or region or state every time I go.” The Mexican aesthetic is heavily influenced by Catholicism. The traditional art emulates Jose Posada, a satirical artist in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Mandy says his famous images, such as La Calavera Catrina (the elegant skull), heavily influence Mexican folk art. 8
“With Mexico, you just have to be happy that it arrives. These are really rustic people and really rustic towns that I go to. When I want 50 of one thing I have to go around quite often to 50 artisans and spend two weeks just sourcing this one product because they can’t produce enough.”
The Cooking Class Revolution Latin cooking style comes from the home and Australians are learning the art
A revolution has been occurring in the public’s attitude towards cooking, in part due to an increase in the number of cooking programs on television. The list is long - MasterChef, My Kitchen Rules, My Restaurant Rules, Jamie Oliver’s 15 minute recipes, Food Safari, Consuming Passions, the Cook and the Chef, Huey’s Cooking Club and Good Chef, Bad Chef - to name just some. It has created the impression that high quality cooking is within reach of the untrained person, although often the techniques are anything but accessible. Still, a democratisation of the culinary arts seems to be occurring. In parallel with this development is a growing popularity of cooking classes. Syd Weddell, managing director of retailer The Essential Ingredient, says that a decade ago his market was professionals, chefs and good restaurants. But he has noticed an increasing interest from novice cooks “who want to shop where the chefs shop.” The Essential Ingredient was an early entrant in providing cooking classes for “novice cooks looking for inspiration and good advice”. The cooking classes are now a routine part of the business. Nick Williams is co-founder of the North Melbourne based Spanish Home Cooking, which specialises in teaching the foods that Spaniards cook at home. He says Spanish restaurants do not usually provide traditional Spanish food. “It will be tarted up if anything,” he says. “The presentation is more on the El Bulli side of things than you would normally get in a Spanish restaurant. El Bulli is the best restaurant in the 10
world and the chef there is a very experimental chef, so there is a lot of experimental stuff. But that is the exception rather than the rule in Spain. We wanted to show people how to do authentic Spanish cooking.” Williams went to Spain in 2001 to work and subsequently met his wife Maria. When they returned to Australia, they decided to concentrate on teaching the common tapas that are routinely consumed in Spain. “We do the paella. We do desserts such as churros, the Spanish doughnut. We try to teach people a good repertoire of Spanish dishes so if they want to cook a Spanish meal for their friends they could come out with a number of good dishes.” Nick and Maria’s cooking classes include recipes made with the Spanish sausage chorizo, capsicum and bacalao (salted cod). Tortilla (a type of flatbread) and gazpacho (a hot tomato based vegetable soup) are also featured. Classes consist of up to 14 people. “We try and vary them as much as possible, we have a wide range,” says Nick. “It is not like a taste course, it is supposed to be a social evening. They get a few glasses of Spanish wine to try. It is a relaxed environment, people are encouraged to ask questions, get involved. Maria will tell them lots of anecdotes about life in Spain. It is a real holistic experience rather than just teaching recipes.” Oscar Yanez is the Peruvian-born chef at The Green Grocer in Fitzroy. He has been teaching Latin street food for about a
year. His classes range from 6 to 12, which consist mostly of Anglo-Celtic students. “I have a Latin American background, my parents are Peruvian,” says Oscar, “so I am very familiar with Hispanic flavours just from my upbringing.” Oscar’s father was a keen and inventive cook who taught his son about the street food culture. “He was quite well travelled within Latin America and always very good at combining flavours. He was never one for cooking classics, as it were. I suppose that is very much my own approach to Latin cooking. I love the ingredients and love the flavour.” Oscar was trained as a European-style chef and cooked Latin food at home rather than pursuing it in a professional environment. But when he worked at the popular Melbourne restaurant Mamasita he began, for the first time, to find the opportunity to use his experience of his father’s approach to cooking in a professional setting. “To be perfectly honest, up until that point I didn’t really imagine that people would be terribly interested in it. After that I became very excited about it.” Oscar says there is a lot of Australian interest in street food and its more relaxed approach to cooking. He says the key to the food is freshness, which is critical when it comes from warmer climates. “In some ways it is very similar to Asian cooking,” says Oscar. “It relies on coriander and mint and there are many ingredients, such as coconut milk, lemon juice, lime juice, garlic and onions. The thing about Hispanic food is that it does come from Spain, so there are a lot of cases where Spanish recipes or Spanish ideas have been adapted to local ingredients. “That is quite common. There is a great doughnut in Peru that uses pumpkin and sweet potato, which are two vegetables native to that part of the world. It has an aniseed based sugar syrup that you dip into.” Other adaptations include variants of mayonnaise and pickled capsicum. Spicy food is very popular in all forms. “There is a great variety of chilis that vary in intensity and flavour. And there is also drying, the Mexicans are very good at that. They will dry roast chilis, like the Spanish make pimenton (paprika). It is the same idea of dry roasting and grinding it down. Then there is the mole sauce mole, which is based on mixing dry roasted chilis with chocolate.” Oscar aims to make his classes as accessible as possible, but he says the food tends to be simple anyway. “Latin America doesn’t really have the kind of cuisine culture that Europe has, where people are trained as specialists like the master chefs in Europe. In Latin America it is a lot more provincial and rustic. So it is really being done by home cooks. Especially the street food is just home cooks: poor people looking to make a little bit of money like in any third world economy. It is really more about that.
“You might have a little stall that specialises in two or three things that do really well. So by its nature it is quite simple. I think it is really exciting. It makes a lot of sense because Spanish food has been very popular for a long time. And Latin food is consumed in places that are very hot and humid, like in Australia. Street eating is also something that appeals to Australians a great deal. In some ways it is a shame that our food safety laws are so tight. I think a street eating culture would do very well in Australia. It should continue to do very well.” Most cooking schools that deal with a variety of different cuisines from different parts of the world include some Latin countries. Pip Kerslake, founder of Pip’s Cooking School, which has been going since 2000, teaches Spanish style cooking. The high Australian dollar, says Pip, has led to an increased interest in food from overseas. “A lot more people are travelling, going to Spain or Italy. People are seeing how the Spanish eat and they start to develop a love of olive oil.” Autumn/Winter Edition
Pip’s classes are conducted in two sittings. She teaches tapas, Spanish coquettes, tortillas and paella. The latter is often the highlight. “When you make paella you have to do it in a pan and get that crust,” she says. Pip finishes up with the wine Sangria, which is enthusiastically drunk. For dessert she has a recipe for Crèma Catalana, a Spanish version of a brulee. “My favourite classes are the Spanish,” says Pip. “I just love it and I love their passion for food. It is a great way to eat.” Jim Bahr, managing director of Sydney-based VictorsFood runs Mexican cooking classes that include modern Mexican food as well as Mexican street food. “It seems to be all the rage these days in Sydney and Melbourne. I suppose it is because we have done Asian food pretty much to death here. Everybody has tried Chinese or Thai or more specialised Asian food. But Latin American food has been just a bit out 12
of people’s consciousness, for a long time. I guess people are interested in the pursuit of new and different experiences so it has become something people want to find out about.” Jim and his partner Victor ran a restaurant in Sydney called Rattlesnake Grill, which featured food from the southern states of America. He says it was influenced by the same factors that have built Latin American food: a melding of indigenous, European and Spanish cultures. Yet although it received good reviews, it was to some extent ahead of its time. More sophisticated Latin food, such as high level Peruvian food, is yet to be fully accepted says Jim. Latin street food, however, does not seem to be ahead of its time. “The people who come for the classes are already primed for it. Many of them have an interest in it, either because they travelled or they have experienced the restaurants. They want to get a little bit more hands-on and to learn about it.”
Jim says the cooking techniques are fairly common with other types of cuisine. It is the flavour that is unique. It is based on a blending of earthy flavours: chilis, different kind of spices and ingredients like black beans that create flavours that are not common cuisines. “There is a different use of spices. A lot of people aren’t quite used to the combinations, but because it is quite flavoursome they do eventually get it. Just the cuisine being unusual isn’t enough to make it popular. It has got to be tasty as well.” Interest in Spanish food is relatively recent, according to Nick of Spanish Home Cooking. He says when the business started, there was very little in the way of Spanish food in Melbourne and they had difficulty getting authentic ingredients. So they started selling them themselves through the web site. In the last couple of years, however, it has become a lot easier to get Spanish ingredients. “People are more aware of Spanish food, like churros,” says Nick. “There are a number of kiosks around the city where you can get Spanish doughnuts. When we started most people hadn’t even heard of them. “We are always maturing as a food community. People are discovering new foods and they have now found Spanish food. I don’t think it is a fad. I think it will hang around. People are a lot more aware of it now.” Nick says that there is still some confusion of Spanish and the Latin American food. “We do a lot of parties where we do catering and people have got Mexican sombreros and stuff. A big misconception with people is that Spanish food is spicy and it is not. They don’t really use any spices, other than paprika.” In theory, the plethora of cooking programs on television might be treated as cooking classes, but they often require levels of skill that are beyond the ordinary person. Cooking classes are, or at least should be, adapted to the more ordinary home would-be chef. But it is important to take notes and ask questions. There are also many options on-line for cooking classes, but this is never a substitute for actually handling the ingredients and seeing how the dishes develop. Smelling the aromas is also something that cannot happen on line. And you cannot ask the teacher questions on line while you are doing the cooking. Cooking schools have another possible advantage. If the lessons do not work, there is always another option. Hire your teacher. Nick Williams says that catering has become a bigger business for him and Maria than the classes. “Our students became our customers. They would ask: ‘Can you cook a paella at our fiftieth birthday party?’ So now we do birthdays, weddings and corporate events. What we are trying to do is deliver the same quality and authenticity that we do in our lessons. When we do the paellas, they can see it being made.”
The Puppet Master An Argentinean artist is reviving the magic of a bygone era Walk into the Magic Lantern on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy and it is clear that this is a different world and from another time. Puppets of diverse shapes and sizes look down pleasingly from the shelves. Optical devices, shadow animals, cardboard theatres, early projectors, illusions are all on display. Owner of the shop, Gonzalo Varela, explains that he and his wife Lucy are “salmon people” – they are swimming against the tide of the time. “The salmon goes against the direction of the water,” he says. “Both Lucy and I came up with this concept. We try to honour this old technology - pre-cinema (projector equipment), optical toys - all these Victorian toys that people forget. Although some people come here and say, ‘I remember this. When I was a child my father had a magic lantern in the house.’ I like to play. I like to enjoy life. Always I am making something. I can’t stay sitting watching a movie more than one hour.” Creating illusion is a serious business for Gonzalo. He especially objects to puppeteers who can be seen by the audience. “I don’t like the idea that the people watch the performer. For me it is a small world you are creating. I want the people to project into this small world like a real small world. It is now very fashionable that people watch a puppet show and the performer is there and you can see a human. This is not magic. I think it is about the ego of the performer. For me -- no. I am completely the inverse. All black (curtains). Nobody can see me and nobody can see my hand.” Gonzalo grew up in Argentina, spending 20 years in one famous institution: the Bellas Artes in La Plata, where he did his primary and secondary schooling, his university studies and six years of academic teaching. “I wanted to escape,” he says, with feeling. 14
The exit was to Barcelona, where he spent a decade working as a painter. It was there he met Lucy, who was also working as a painter. Initially, he says, his style was magic realist, with a concentration on his ‘dark side’. Then he moved to a more surrealist approach. Now, he says, it has changed again, with a strong emphasis on layers of irony. “I am very naïve now,” he says. “I’ve changed a lot. Now I feel completely different. I am free of all these ghosts. When you are young, or at least in my case, you are very anarchistic. Now I am a little cynical. But I like my life and am very happy and I want to talk more about love.” As might be expected for an artist concerned with illusion and intent on creating artificial realities, the subject of what is real and what is not is significant. Gonzalo has evidently given it a great deal of thought. “I think we don’t know anything about reality. We have one reality, day by day -- our reality. The TV shows another reality. You can say that it is real life, or you can start to ask ‘Are you sure this has happened’?
“If people have money and work (they) don’t ask why. They take all this information from the TV and media and accept it. OK, I am happy with it. But when you don’t have money and a crisis comes and all the parameters start to crash, you start to ask why. It is when you start to think that maybe the reality you are being presented with is not the reality, you start to look in another place. “For me, the reality is the street. I don’t watch TV and I don’t read the newspapers. I like to talk with people. I like the diversity of people who come here and chat with me. Usually crazy people in the Housing Commission building are the most interesting people. When you talk to someone who has a very strong background with a lot of experience, that is a reality to me.” Gonzalo hosts Punch and Judy shows and puppet shows for children on nutrition. He works as a painter in the area, and has done paintings on walls or doors for restaurants and hotels. His major project is his own puppet show, which he hopes to perform next year. It features six animals, one of which is the seagull cowboy, a metaphorical representation of the United States. The other animals, which are in the jungle, are victims of the seagull’s ambition. “It is an irony, a little comedy. This seagull cowboy finds oil. (It) pretends to change the jungle with corporations and technology and imperialism. It is for adults, but children will be welcome.” Latin culture boasts a long history of puppetry, especially the Commedia del Arte in Italy in the sixteenth century. But Gonzalo implies that such traditions have been weakened. “It is very difficult to find something specific from one place, now it is all global. The information is running too fast. The Spanish don’t have a lot of puppetry culture, the same in Argentina. But it is growing. It is like a new river that has a lot of small canals and people start to take all these very old technologies again.” Gonzalo and Lucy have a young son and intend to live in Australia and Argentina. They have a second home in Tigre Delta, a wilderness area about 30 kilometres from Buenos Aires. Gonzalo says it is in “the jungle” and access is only possible by boat. “I want to go for a couple of months, relax, enjoy the jungle, fish and take a break. And after that, come here and make my show.” Gonzalo’s magical world of illusions suggests that reality should be watched closely. You never know what it will get up to. Public perception, he notes, is shaped by powerful interests. Once the threat was communists – Gonzalo says 30,000 communists were ‘disappeared’ (killed) in Argentina. Now, it is the threat of terrorists. “It is all about (scaring people). When you ask about reality -- I think we don’t know anything about reality.” www.magiclanternstudio.com Autumn/Winter Edition
Lulos’ Imaginative Combinations This is sophisticated food, a creative blend of Spanish and South American flavours, a blend of the European old world and the new world. As maitre de Corban Hill says, the South American tapas’ are “definitely not authentic” but they “used licence to create modern flavours.”The result is often delicious, always intriguing. The Lulo fare opened with Tasmanian oysters in coriander pickle. This was followed by Queensland (sustainably fished, apparently) Spanner Crab in a mix of pickled garlic, avocado, Avruga Caviar and lemon air. It tasted like a gorgeous, citrus flavoured cloud as it passes over the sea, a delicate blend of air and water. The paprika bread combined chewiness with traditional spice, perfectly rounded off with olive oil. Further food refracted through the traditions of Spain came in the form of Jamon Iberico: Bellota Jamon aged 36 months and acorn fed from Salamanca. This was strong and pungent, suitably Iberian. The culinary journey returned to South America with the arrival of the Cerviche Special. The ingredients were Yellowtail Kingfish and Hapuka cured with lime and blood orange plus Peruvian yellow chilli. The garnish consisted of blood orange, mandarin jelly and baby Coriander. This was fresh and sharp, a touch of culinary liberty. Where the Spanish jamon reminded of the dry weight of tradition, the Cerviche was reminiscent of South American freedom. The shredded pork special consisted of confit pork: guindilla wrapped in Serano jamon and served on a picatoste (pig in a blanket). The use of pomegranate to balance the saltiness here was most skilful. Next was a waygu beef tartare which was dressed with Mojo (Red chilli sauce from Mallorca) served with crispy cassava and pickles. The cassava chips were delicious but the wagyu did not entirely convince. 16
It was back to South America with bone lamb cutlets, which were served with chimmichurri sauce, injected with Sobrasada (chorizo paste) all on a puree of smoked eggplant. This combination of strong meat flavours with subtle eggplant puree delivers a stimulating combination. The meal ended with crema catalana, a cinnamon and lime custard with spun sugar was accompanied with churros and a chocolate dipping sauce. A lovely mix of the sweet and the Moorish. This is a genuine fusion of cuisines, a creative mix of long history and new taste adventures. It is not cheap, but quality like this never is. Lulos: 798 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn. Ph: (03) 9818 8321
Kanela Flamenco Tapas Bar
This is food that is based on the home cooking style so beloved in Spain. The restaurant, which reached its tenth year in January, is one of the most established traditional Spanish restaurants in town. The chef is Conchita and her husband Nick does much of the managing. The Flamenco performers are the sons, and daughter Raquel operates the restaurant and bar. The advantages of home cooking traditions quickly emerge. The tapas of chorizo (hand made by a Spaniard) and tomato sauce with chili displays rich and strong flavours. The garlic prawns are likewise a cut above the usual fare, with a deep and potent taste. The home made crème caramel flan is both sweet and complex.“ This is a family based restaurant with traditional Spanish cuisine,” says Raquel. Kanela Flamenco Tapas Bar & Restaurant: 56 Johnston Street Fitzroy, (03) 9419 0424. See Conchita’s recipe for garlic prawns on page 30.
what’s selling? Prepared Meats Latin cuts of meat are garnering interest. According to Maria Agnesi of Nino’s & Joe’s butchers, the key to success is buying top quality meats and cutting it for customers on the spot. “Everything does well in our shop,” says Maria. “We are renowned for our pork sausages which are comparable to none. They fly out the door, we can’t keep up with them.” “Over the years our pork sausages have become one of our biggest sellers. The secret is simple. Top quality Australian pork, herbs and spices and the love to continue tradition.” But Maria, refuses to tell us what the herbs and spices are. “Of course the top quality meats and poultry are second to none”. Maria says. “There is no compromise when it comes to buying the best.” Demand for meats tends to be seasonal. “During the summer there is high demand for all our barbecuing meats, especially our pork sausages. During Easter there is a demand for lamb, and during the winter season, there is high demand for pork, for our customers who spend many weekends making salami, capocollo, proscuitto and so on.” In the past 10 years Nino’s & Joe’s have employed an Argentinean butcher, Armando, who specialises in Latin cuts, especially Asado (ribs). “Interest in Latin cuts of meat is increasing,” says Maria. “Latin food has become quite popular. I feel that people are slowly passing on the word. I have noticed many more Latin customers, keeping Armando and the rest of the boys busy. It’s nice to see a whole new generation of customers with a totally new cuisine, as well as the new cooks, who just like me, love to watch cooking shows on TV. This means whatever is cooked on the show, will become the cut of the week.” “The boys here are all experienced butchers and are always happy to give any customer help, with advice on any of our products.” “Nino, she says, has been a continental butcher for over four decades, and the boys at Nino’s & Joe’s still use the same method of cutting and slicing.” “Nino’s motto is very much, “if I won’t eat it, I won’t sell it.”
Fine Wines Spanish and French grapes are being used for fine wine in South America Three types of South American wines are becoming popular in Australia, according to Venezuelan Carlos Sanz, founder of the online wine importer Vinofino (www.vinofino.com.au). “In terms of wine we see growth in Tempranillo,” says Carlos. This grape was initially from Spain but South American countries, which were Spanish colonies, have developed it well. “(Australians) understand Tempranillo grapes, rather than the more rare grapes we import. Australian growers are also experimenting with Tempranillo. So you are getting more interest from both the consumers and from the growers.” Carlos says the Malbec wines from Argentina are popular. Malbec was originally a French grape that was used for blends only, but in Argentina it has become their most famous wine. The third wine that is popular is a white
called Torrontes, an “iconic” wine from Argentina. “It is a very complex wine that has grown in popularity. “It is very fruity and aromatic, but it is not sweet. In five years time you will hear a lot about it. I have a lot of faith in that wine.” Carlos says South American beers are difficult to import into Australia. Air freight is too expensive so it is only possible to ship them by sea, which takes at least three months. The beers tend only to have a shelf life of nine months, so sales have to be fast. “There is only a window of one or two months to sell the beer, which is very challenging.” Carlos says he has also experienced good sales with the rum Diplomatico, “especially the most expensive one.”
Ingredients Unusual tomatoes from Mexico are attracting interest. Whole green tomatoes are one of the ingredients attracting customer interest according to Paulina Onofre, founder of the on-line Mexican retailer guacaMalle (www.guacaMalle.com). She says it is used to make the Mexican green sauce. “A lot of people think it is the same as red tomatoes, but that is not the case at all. It is another vegetable, the flavour is completely different. It is the fruit of a berry plant which has an acid taste.” Another popular ingredient, says Paulina, is Chipotle chili. “Basically this one if very popular because of the smoky flavour. It is made from smoke dried jalapenos.” Paulina says Mexican chocolate is also attracting interest. Chocolate, she says was first developed in Mexico and only later did Europeans take it up, adding sugar and fat to create the chocolate that is known now.
Paulina says Mexican chocolate is “completely different” from regular chocolate. Another area of strong demand is ready to use Mexican sauces, particularly Mole sauce and Guajillo sauce. “Those two are really popular in the ready to use range. As there are more and more Mexican restaurants people are, little by little, getting to know these sauces.” GuacaMalle also sells pickled cactus, which Paulina says is mainly of interest to Mexicans. She says she tried to prepare Australian cactuses in a similar way but did not succeed. “The cactus in Mexico is very soft. Here, the cactus has many layers, it is completely different. (Mexicans) use cactus to complement any dish.”
Cinco de mayo The little known story of the popular Mexican festival
Few of the traditions of Latin America are widely observed in the English-speaking world. An exception is the celebration of Cinco de Mayo (‘fifth of May’), which memorialises Mexico’s victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1861. Yet it is not celebrated much in Mexico itself; it is not even a national holiday. In contrast, in the United States it has come to be an important symbol of Mexican culture and independence. There are more than 120 official American celebrations of Cinco de Mayo, across 21 different states. It has become a day for Americans to celebrate Latin American culture. What happened on that day? Mexico’s president at the time was Benito Juárez. He had inherited a country in financial ruin and had little choice but to default on his debts to France, Britain and Spain. Angered, all three European powers sent their navies to demand payment. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew. But France’s leader, Napoleon III, had different ideas. He had a history of aggressively expanding French power. He had waged war in the Crimea against the Russians, engaged in military action in the Levant, China and Korea, established French rule in Vietnam and New Caledonia, and defended the Papal States against the Italians. When Juarez defaulted, Napoleon III resolved to take the opportunity to create a dependent empire out of Mexican territory. He attacked Juarez in Veracruz, landing 6,000 French troops headed by General Charles Latrille de Lorencez. Lorencez launched his initial offensive against Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. 20
It should have been a rout. Juárez only had a makeshift defence force of 2,000 loyal men. But led by the Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza, the town was defended, with the French losing 500 men and the Mexicans only 100. Although it was a win mainly of symbolic importance, it spurred fierce Mexican resistance against the French, which six years later led to a French withdrawal. Puebla de Los Angeles was eventually renamed Puebla de Zaragoza to honour the general’s military achievement. According to academic David E. Hayes-Bautista. the fact that Cinco de Mayo is celebrated more in America than Mexico has as much to do with the history of the American Civil War as of the defence of Mexico. The American Civil War was fought between 1861 and 1865, the same period during which Napoleon III was trying to conquer Mexico. In the decades prior to that, there had been intense Mexican migration into California, largely because of the gold and silver rushes. California had become bilingual and had a heavy Hispanic influence – much as it has now. Because the wars occurred simultaneously, Mexicans had to defend themselves on two fronts. They fought in the Union army against the South, and also against France in Mexico. Zaragoza’s victory at Puebla in 1862 thus had great meaning to the Mexicans in California. At the time they mounted huge celebrations, which became the precursor of the current day festivities. The popularity of Cinco de Mayo is not so much a story of national pride, as the pride of expatriates celebrating the courage displayed in their home country.
San Carlos Products established 1987, largest import/wholesale/direct to public in Melbourne. Our address is 20/41 Bennet St Dandenong 3175. Authentic ingredients from all of latin america including fresh tortillas made to order, will beat any price.
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Australians in South America The emigration has been sparse, but it has been unusual
Latin American migration to Australia has led to sizable contributions to local culinary and cultural life. But the movement of people has not all been in one direction. Some Australians have migrated to Latin America, occasionally with dramatic consequences. The most startling Australian foray occurred in 1893 when a group of 220 socialists sailed for Paraguay to establish what they hoped would be a Utopia based on equality, fairness and communal living. It failed, but some descendants still live there, speaking English with a nasal Australian accent that is now almost unknown within Australia itself. As is often the case with migrant communities, the language they speak does not change as it does in the homeland; it remains frozen in time. The emigrants were mostly shearers and bush workers from the Queensland outback, upset over wages and conditions and frustrated that industrial action had not worked. They formed the New Australian Association and initially attempted to relocate in Argentina. But the Argentinean government was unco-operative and they turned instead to Paraguay, which had been decimated by the five year War of Triple Alliance against Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. The war had resulted in the death of 90 per cent of the male population and Paraguay was desperate for male workers to repopulate the diminished nation. The initiative was a failure, undone by autocracy, teetotalism and racism. Utopia remained as out of reach as ever. Only eight families stayed on and the rest either returned home or went on to work in Patagonia. About 2,000 descendants of the social experiment are left. It was the only colony Australia has ever had.
These days, migration to Latin America is a little more pragmatic, following trade flows. Chile is especially attracting attention, mainly in the mining sector. According to the Australian born lawyer Harris Gomez, at leats 150 Australian companies are based in Santiago. “They choose Chile as a platform for Latin America,” he says. Virginia Greville, the Australian ambassador to Chile says the Australian and Chilean economies resemble each other. They both heavily depend on mining and their economic fate is linked to China’s. The finance and agriculture sectors are also well developed in both countries. “It is extraordinary how similar they are,” says Greville, adding that the relationship has strengthened over the last decade. She says the commercial ties came first and the political links followed. Both countries are considered stable democracies with strong links to the rise of Asia. Educational links are also increasing. Greville says traditionally Chileans had a strong preference for Europe, especially Germany. Then interest shifted towards the United States. But now, she says, Chileans are looking to mid-level countries with good governance with which they have something in common: the Netherlands, Finland and Australia. One thing that Australians going to Chile have to get used to is the differences in law. In Chile, and most of Latin America, legal agreements must be written down, otherwise they do not exist. Negotiation takes about twice the time it takes in Australia, but once it is finalised disputes rarely end up in court. “Chile is not a litigious country,” says Gomez. “Australia’s common law system is built on principles of good faith. In Chile, if you like, the law is built on bad faith. There is no agreement until it is written down.”
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Membrillo, or quince paste, is well known, but it is only part of the Latin fare
A commonly used ingredient in Latin American cuisine is fruit paste, which is used in confectionaries and with cheeses. The best known variant in Australia is quince paste, which is eaten with cheeses or used in salads. Quince is similarly popular in Spain, where it is known as membrillo. Yet this is only a part of the story. In Spain and South America there is an entire cuisine of fruit pastes, matching the diversity of the cheeses. Consumers in Latin countries typically buy fruit pastes when purchasing their cheeses. They also use them to make sweets, enliven salads or melt them and use them as a sauce, sometimes with vinegar. The pastes are made by combining fruit, sugar and a binding agent such as pectin (quince has a natural pectin, so does not require any additional ingredients). There are many possible combinations. Probably the most inventive country is Brazil, where pastes are made from guava, batata, tomato, berries, oranges and many citrus species. Also popular are pastes made from pumpkin and sweet potato. These are especially enjoyed in Argentina, Peru, Paraguay and Uruguay. South America may currently be taking the lead in fruit paste inventiveness, but the food’s origins date back to Renaissance Europe, when they were made from the pulp of various fruits, reduced by heat. Sometimes the sugar was double the weight of the fruit, suggesting the palates at that time were especially sweet. The paste was boiled until it reached the preferred consistency, then moulded into different shapes. 26
In South America the best fruit pastes are made by artisans, says Graciela Techera, managing director of Melbourne based Conosur Fruit Pastes. “The artisanal tradition is very strong in Latin America,” she says. “When you are making fruit paste you really must do it by hand in reasonably small quantities if you want to get the distinctive flavours. The fruit pastes that are processed using preservatives and then mass produced with heavy machinery never achieve the same subtlety. It is simply impossible.” Once the art of making the pastes has been mastered, the possibilities are many. Conosur uses liqueurs such as port, brandy and cointreau to give the pastes an after dinner quality. In Tasmania, some quality pastes are being produced from apples. There are many local providers of quince paste, and Spanish quince paste is popular in local delis. “Fruit pastes can offer fabulous variety; the only limit is really your imagination,” says Graciela. She says a number of outlets are now stocking a range of pastes, including Leo’s supermarkets, Emerald Hill at the South Melbourne market, The French Shop and Queen Victoria Deli at the Victoria Market, and the Camberwell Market Deli. “It is slowly becoming accepted in Australia. But there is still a long way to go before people come to appreciate the richness of what is available in Latin America.” A counter view is put by Australian cheese expert Will Studd, who says drily that fruit pastes have become popular in South America because the cheeses tend to lack quality. He does, however, acknowledge that a quality fruit paste can complement the best of cheeses, providing a sweet counter balance to its saltiness. Indeed, the combination is far from new. The crafts of creating both cheese and fruit pastes go back many centuries.
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298 Rawthdowne st Carlton North Ph: (03) 9349 2777 Piquoes.com.au
El Gaucho Argentinean Grill 454 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy North Ph: (03) 9482 7447 www.elgaucho.com.au
Santa Ana Latin American 138 Acland Street, St Kilda Ph: (03) 9077 6679
Argentinean Charcoal grill restaurant
Frankston Ph: (03) 9783 7882
Shop 24 F shed, Queen Victoria Market
Patterson lakes Ph: (03) 9773 9541
513 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne Ph: 0411 031 907
Leyton-Palma Lawyers Suite 7, 9 Wilson Street, Berwick Ph: (03) 9791 8826
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email us your favourite latin recipe email@example.com 29
Pan de Batata MAKES 6-8
Cuban sweet potato bread is a delight, combining unusual uses of vegetables and fruit, with a touch of spice. About as far removed from processed white bread as it is possible to get.
ingredients 250 gms of boiled sweet potato 2 eggs 20 gms of self raising flour 1 teaspoon of yeast powder 1 teaspoon of pimienta (pepper) 9 tablespoons of melted butter 150 gms of brown sugar 150 gms of pecan nuts or walnuts, chopped
5. Beat the butter with the sugar until creamy, then mix into a batter
1. Preheat oven to 180 C
6. Mix all the ingredients, add the nuts
2. Oil a baking tin 23 cm x 15 cm 3. Put boiled sweet potato, banana and eggs in a blender and combine 4. Sieve the flour, pimienta and yeast
7. Pour mixture into the baking tin 8. Cook for an hour, or until the centre of the bread is ready. If it is necessary to cook for a few minutes more, then reduce heat to 160 C and cook for 10-15 minutes.
Garlic Prawns MAKES 4- 6
A savoury Spanish tapas. The recipe is provided by Conchita, the chef at f Kanela restaurant in Johnston Street, Fitzroy.
1 kg of king prawns. ½ teaspoon salt 50 gms of butter 1/3 cup of olive oil 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped ¼ teaspoon of chili flakes ½ teaspoon paprika
1. Peel prawns. 2. Mix salt with garlic and olive oil and let sit. 3. Heat olive oil and butter in pan. 4. Add garlic and chili. 5. Add prawns.
Cutlets with Jamon (prosciutto) MAKES 4- 6
This recipe is quick to prepare and is a variation on the Spaniards’ and Argentineans’ famous love for red meat.
ingredients 12 lamb cutlets 2 tablespoons of mustard, finely chopped coriander 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest Smoked paprika 12 slices prosciutto Two tablespoons of oil 750 ml of water 350 gms of rice 1 tablespoon of butter Saffron
method 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Place water and salt in pan and add rice. Soak for between 30 minutes and two hours. Bring water to boil, reduce heat, add saffron and simmer for 10-15 minutes until water absorbed. Add butter to rice, cover for 30 minutes. Lay out cutlets and sprinkle with mustard, coriander and lemon zest. Season with paprika. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each cutlet.
Chupe de Mani MAKES 2
A simple soup that is easy to prepare. It is popular in Ecuador and Bolivia, where peanuts, once cultivated by the Incas, continue to be an important source of protein.
ingredients 2 tablespoons of peanut oil 1 medium onion 1 peeled and diced potato 1 medium red capsicum, seeds removed and cubed 2 dried red chiles, seeds removed. 1 litre of chicken or beef stock 4 tablespoons of peanuts salt and pepper 2 teaspoons of chopped coriander (cilantro) 1 diced tomato
method 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.
Heat oil and sauté onions. Stir in potato, capsicum and cook for 4-5 minutes until soft. Do not brown. Add chiles, broth and bring to boil. Turn down the temperature and leave for 15 minutes. Put half of soup into a blender. Add peanuts and make a puree. Put puree back into the saucepan. Add salt if necessary. Heat. Serve with coriander, diced tomato and extra peanuts (cacahuetes).
Pato con Peras MAKES 4
This duck recipe cleverly uses fruit flavours and spices to enhance the brackish meat tastes.
ingredients ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika pinch of ground clover 2kg of duck cut into 8 pieces 1 tablespoon of olive oil 1 bay leaf 8 peeled French shallots 8 baby carrots 2 garlic cloves, sliced ½ cup of sweet sherry 1 sprig of thyme 1 cinnamon stick 1.1 litres of chicken stock 4 firm ripe pears, peeled and halved
method 1. Preheat oven to 180˚ C. Mix tnutmeg, paprika, cloves and salt and pepper in a bowl. Dust duck with spice mixture. Heat oil in large casserole dish and brown duck in batches. 2. Drain excess, leaving a tablespoon. Add bay leaf, shallots and carrots. Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stir in garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add sherry and boil for 1 minute. Stir in thyme, cinnamon stock and stock, return duck to dish. 3. Bring to the boil. Transfer casserole dish to the oven and bake, covered for 70 minutes. Turn over after 35 minutes. Put pears on top and bake for another 20 minutes. 4. Take duck pieces and pears out of the liquid with a slatted spoon and transfer to a serving dish with carrots, shallots and cinnamon stick. Keep warm. 5. Put casserole dish on stove and bring to boil for 7-10 minutes, reducing liquid by half. Season to taste, pour over duck and serve.
Crema Catalana MAKES 4
A much favoured dessert in Spain, this is a creamy custard topped with a layer of crunchy sugar, slightly burned.
ingredients 475 ml of milk. The rind of half a lemon 1 cinnamon stick 4 egg yolks
105 ml of castor sugar 25 ml corn flour Ground nutmeg
method 1. 2. 3.
Pour milk into a pan with lemon rind and cinnamon stick. Bring to boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove lemon rind and cinnamon. Put egg yolks and 3 tablespoons of sugar into a bowl and beat until yellow. Add cornflour and mix until consistency is smooth. Mix some hot milk with the egg yolk mixture then combine with the remainder of the milk. Return to heat and cook gently for about 5 minutes. Stir until the custard thickens, making sure that the consistency is smooth.
4. 5. 6.
Pour custard into four small oven proof dishes and chill for a few hours, or overnight, until they become firm. Sprinkle each dessert with 1 tablespoon of sugar and some nutmeg. Preheat grill to high. Place dishes under grill, cook until the sugar has caramelised (it should only take seconds). Remove custard and cool before serving.
This delicious sweet is popular in Spain and South America. It combines rich dairy tastes with spices and sugar.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
ingredients 2 cups of milk. 1 cinnamon stick lemon zest 1 vanilla bean, split 140gms of unsalted butter 250gms/2 cups of plain flour 145 gms castor sugar 4 eggs, separated 125 gms/1 Âź cups dry breadcrumbs vegetable oil 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon mixed with 1/3 cup of castor sugar sugar for dusting
Grease rectangular tin and line with baking paper. Put milk, cinnamon stick, lemon zest and scraped vanilla bean in a saucepan and bring to boil. Turn heat off. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in Â˝ a cup of flour. The mixture will form around the spoon. Stir over a low heat for about 30 seconds, then stir in sugar. Gradually strain milk in the pan, stirring constantly. Mix for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and slowly stir in the egg yolks. As each yolk is added, make sure that it is beaten well until it appears shiny. Pour custard mixture in the tin and allow to cool. Let set for one hour. Whisk egg whites. Take custard out of tin and cut into 5 cm squares. Coat with remaining flour. Dip into egg whites and the breadcrumbs. Pour oil into a large frying pan up to a level of 1 cm. Heat oil and add a few squares at a time, cooking for about 1 minute per side or until browned. Drain on paper and dust all over with sugar and cinnamon. Serve hot.
what t o eat when reading Allende The works of Chilean American writer Isabel Allende are considered to be part of the magic realist tradition of South America, although the emphasis is perhaps more on the realism and less on the magic. She lacks the audacity of a writer such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whose One Hundred Years of Solitude is perhaps the defining work of the Latin American version of the genre. Her success – she is one of the most widely read Spanish authors – is more due to how accessible her writing is. Her debut novel The House of the Spirits is a rich tale about prophecy, family, politics and fate. The magic derives from the sense that there is a rhythm coursing through the lives of the characters, of which there are passing glimpses, but whose outline does not become clear until fully realised. Allende’s surname is one of great significance in Chilean politics. Daughter of the former Chilean ambassador to Peru, Tomas Allende, she is the first cousin of Salvador Allende, the President of Chile from 1970 to 1973. Salvador Allende died on 9/11 (11th September, 1973) in a military coup that led to the American-backed dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Having such a family heritage has tended to give Isabel’s works, deservedly or not, an extra halo of significance, especially when she writes about family heritage. It is not at all difficult to work out what to eat when reading an Isabel Allende novel. She has written a book about it: Aphrodite. Penned at the age of 50, an age that she compares to “the last hour of dusk when the sun has set and one turns naturally towards reflection”, it is much concerned with the sensuality of food. “I cannot separate eroticism from food and see no need to do so,” Allende declares defiantly. “On the contrary I want to go on enjoying both for as long as strength and good humour last.” She describes what she outlines as a “mapless journey through the regions of sensual memory, in which the boundaries between love and appetite are so diffuse that at times they evaporate completely.” 34
We are taken through aphrodisiacs, spice in the variety, cooking in the nude, the spell of aromas, creatures of the sea, the piranhas of Brazil, the language of flowers. A plethora of myths, cultures and histories are drawn on her literary canvas. Especially enjoyable is the story of Lola Montez, who passed herself off as a Spanish dancer despite knowing nothing about dance and having no Spanish heritage at all. The dance she devised, was the Tarantula, “which inflamed her spectators with mad desire”. The book finishes with recipes from all cuisines, many of French origin. The Latin dishes include Salsa Picante, Shrimp Pica Pica (notably erotic, apparently), Gazpacho and the onion soup Consomne el Dorado (a delicate preamble to more daring canvasses). There are Havana style prawns, Seviche and the simple Chilean salad. There are recipes for Paella, Mexican chicken Mole and Catalan Cream. To Allende eating is not just sustenance, it is, along with sex, one of the “great motivators of history,” preserving and propagating the species, provoking wars and songs, influencing religion, law and art. At once magical and real.
â€œI think they are an excellent accompaniment for cheeses.â€? Will Studd, Australian cheese master and creator of the internationally renowned series Cheese Slices. Mandarin Brandy, Quince Port, Fig & Walnut, Tomato Cointreau, Orange Oporto, Strawberry, Mango Citrus, Passionfruit.
For stockist and recipe ideas please visit www.conosurfruitpastes.com