The mention of Latin America evokes three primary memories in almost all Indians, the first one being that of Maradona´s magical dribbling on the football field to pick up the coveted world cup for Argentina, the second being of Antonio Banderas gracefully zipping across a bar shooting out banditos through his guitar gun and the last of the luscious Selma Hayek dancing with boa constrictor in a seedy joint (Ok …that’s the one image that haunts me the most).
Not many of us know that Latin America also happens to be home to some of the world´s best produce – to the extent that currently a major percentage of the fruits consumed in our country are being imported from countries like Chile. Despite the distances, South American countries have realized the grand potential of the Indian market that several efforts have been made to popularize the gastronomical diversity of the region.
Earlier this year, the Executive Sous Chef of The Leela, Gurgaon – Mr. Ramon Salto, invited a few Latin American chefs to showcase the culinary offerings from their native countries. The event showcased some amazing creations of chefs from Peru, Mexico, Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Columbia and was quite successful in bringing Latin America closer to our homes.
This Tuesday, I attended an event hosted by the Ecuadorian Consul General in Mumbai, Mr. Hector Cueva Jacome where they showcased two dishes from Ecuador, The ubiquitous empanada and a Fish based dish called the Encocado de Pescado. The empanadas were filled with cheese and onions and sprinkled with sugar dust thereby giving a sweet and savoury taste to the palate. The encocado was a very light coconut milk based stew which was slightly sweetish to the palate. I was surprised to note the lack of shrimps in the dish and usually, back in Ecuador, this dish is made with both fish and shrimps together.
Another interesting feature of the event was a small session on chocolates hosted by La Follie´s Sanjana Patel displaying the aspects of fine chocolates including some Dominican and Ecuadorian samples. It was indeed an interesting session and the presentation was very well appreciated by the crowd.
Though the event was very well mounted, it featured the Ecuadorian tourism more extensively than its cuisine. I was mesmerized by the beautiful flora and fauna of not only mainland Ecuador but also of Galapagos Island which makes my bucket list here on. This was a token event to introduce Ecuador and its culinary offerings to India and the Ecuadorian consulate is highly commended for its efforts to bring a piece of Ecuador closer to us.
In the future editions, however, I would be very delighted if the organizers plan to showcase much more of the dishes that Ecuador can offer to India using the ingredients available locally in the markets here. I can definitely see some Empanadas de Morocho (White cornflour empanadas filled with corn and meat), Pan de Yuca (Cheese bread made of Cassava), Seco de Pollo (Chicken Stew served with Fried Plantains) and of course the wonderful Ecuatorian Prawns to be rendered in the future editions of Ecuadorian Food Show. Dear Honorable Consul, please take note, my mouth is already salivating.