The essence of the Bolivian flavor merges in a laboratory: Gustu restaurant

Great article by Alejandra Pau who writes in Pagina Siete:

The essence of the Bolivian flavor merges in a laboratory

2013-12-01 11.22.21 amThe characteristics of most products and those exotic are studied in the workshop created by Gustu restaurant; where they experience and diagnose their inclusion in new dishes.

From the traditional potato in their wide ranges, to more exotic as the ceibo flower or worms flavors like the tuyu tuyu; they are tested and they blend in the laboratory of Bolivian food from restaurant Gustu, created by world-renowned chef Claus Meyer.

In an annex, next to the kitchen of the restaurant, there are a mix of aromas, textures and properties of foods grown in various regions of the Bolivian territory.

There they seek to remove the “same spirit” of each food that arrives at the Inn of the laboratory and every detail is taken into account, such as the era in which is harvested, the region where it grows, what dishes includes, its color, size and flavor.

Everything is recorded so that once the diagnosis of food is made, it passes into the hands of the chef, Kamila Seidler.

Since its inauguration in June this year [2013] have passed by this place around thousand food, thus becoming a space dedicated to diagnose the regional food heritage of Bolivia.

This space was designed to work in two aspects. One is the creative part of the restaurant. “It’s the search for products and think about food in a thousand ways. From the most basic to more ‘crazy’ that exists in the Altiplano, Valley or Forest [low lands including the Amazon basin] and is not registered anywhere,” explains the Danish that serves as head chef.

Secrets of food

For Seidler, a good percentage of these foods is only known whether there was direct access to the source. That is, whether to the region of production or if you talk with the locals, especially grandmothers.

The second aspect includes cataloging and registration of food, which includes a bio-cultural stage, a relationship between biology and culture, and social. That means to find out what is hiding behind the ingredients.

“What you have to do is to enter the regions to understand what gives Bolivia. For example, today we have flowers of ceibo [Cockspur Coral Tree] consumed in Aiquile, the capital of charango [small guitar]. They are included in a typical dish, but if you go to a market of La Paz, is not found”, explains manager of the laboratory of food Bolivianos, Joan Carbó.

That rehearsal room and restaurant work in a constant synergy between knowledge – is scientific, informative or ancient – and a new generation through the development of methodologies.

The essence of food

Food of the most remote places in the country will reach the laboratory in different ways. One is through the students of the school of food Gustu, formed thanks to the Melting Pot Foundation – created by Meyer – and provide a product that is grown in their region of origin. The other way are gastronomic searches carried out by Carbo and Seidler.

Since it started the laboratory have worked with insects, Palm trees, tubers, grains, wild and domestic meats, milk of llama [auchenia], flower of cusa cusa – coming from a cactus-, among others.

Once in the laboratory, measures and standards for handling are followed to work with product optimally.

“It is not determined that Strawberry is red and each unit weighs 10 to 15 grams. We are talking about a chain of information such as amount of fiber, where it grows and when, their nutritional value. Establish a documentation at the academic level “says Seidler.

The creativity of the dishes

Once in the kitchen, determines if the food need or not cooking, whether it is fried, bake, will vacuum, or be included in main dishes, desserts or entries.

For the chef, who had never before been in Bolivia, working with these foods generates a feeling similar to having “a child in a toy store” at Christmas. Something similar happens with Carbo, born in Spain, when he travels to get ingredients.

Restaurant redefines the traditional way of eating food in Bolivia with this practice. Papalisa at Gustu restaurant will not be cooked in the traditional chili/stew form, but it will be served in a different way, “as never before has been eaten”.

This, as they clarify, does not mean closing the door to the traditional Bolivian cuisine, but open a new landscape.

For Seidler, which is when Bolivians elect a meal at Gustu, they recognize the flavors of the cuisine, but at the same time an alien have the possibility – in addition to try the traditional – to find something really different.

For Carbo is very clear that the potential for Bolivian food is incalculable and that so far 95% of the regional Bolivian population must know about 1% of food heritage.

Ultimately, what is the purpose, is that the restaurant becomes the platform of knowledge claim and the laboratory into a tool to achieve this.

For both professionals, the ingredients already exist, but must be understood. Foods are “channels to speak of gastronomy”. Put another way, the laboratory is Bolivia.

For those of us who admire the Peruvian novo cuisine, we must now be happy, what Gustu is doing will represent a huge contribution to Bolivian cuisine, kudos and bon appetit!

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