Guardians of flavor and knowledge. It is the role of the peas of Asturias, as the cooks are known, who treasure the knowledge of the traditional recipes of this green land of the north. This valuable baggage, which was previously transmitted from mothers to daughters in front of the stoves of typical food houses, today runs the risk of being lost due to the breakdown of the generational change in restaurants and the abandonment of kitchens and villages in search of other professional and vital opportunities.
To preserve this legacy there is the Guisanderas Club of Asturias, which was born timidly in 1997 by the hand of 13 women, many of them new to professional meetings and even outings outside their circles, and which currently brings together 40 chefs dedicated to documenting and disseminating their heritage. “Everything we know, what we have been taught and learned, has to be written down, this is our mission and our objective,” explained Amada Álvarez, president of the association, at the first international congress on gastronomy, women and rural areas ,
Female, which runs until Wednesday 15 in and around Gijón, with presentations and traveling demonstrations.
The guisanderas, all of them active chefs except for the owner, now retired, have published two books on traditional Asturian recipes (one of them with 32 ways of making faba beans) and are preparing a third on curing with herbs and food, recovering another one from the work of those village cooks from before, who served the sick, the parturient or the elderly with a special diet linked to popular wisdom.
But they are also moved by the fact that no one takes their place in these kitchens when the work stage comes to an end. «We want to recover new blood for our club, so that those of us who are retiring we can go calmly seeing that there are those who take the witness, because this is no longer happening in restaurants. We all wanted our children to study and they have done so and left, “lamented Álvarez at the meeting, organized by Gastronomy Vocento with the institutional support of the Principality of Asturias.
The cook also appealed to villages have the means to attract new residents. “With the pandemic there are many people looking for another type of life and it was seen that the rural environment is much healthier and more sustainable than a city, we must support it and look for it so that they can come,” he added.
The fruits of America
In Féminas, other cooks who also dedicate their lives to preserving the local and ancestral culinary art, the members of the Association of Traditional Cooks of Oaxaca (Mexico), have received the ‘Guardians of Tradition’ award. It was attended by its president, Celia Florián, and chef Charito Cruz, who taught how to make chocolate by hand and prepared a vegan tamale live in the typical way.
Also seeking to recover traditional cuisine linked to nature, Argentina Narda Lepes In Féminas he exposed the values of cassava or manioc, originally cultivated in America, although it is already present in the diet of poor countries around the world with more than 300 varieties. Precisely because of its links with more disadvantaged areas and communities, this tuber is not included in haute cuisine and “not even on the table in the houses, in public, but is eaten in the kitchen,” he said.
Chosen as the best Latin American chef by The World 50 Best Restaurants, which in its restaurant Narda Comedor, in Buenos Aires, has waitresses over 60, highlighted its versatility and that its flour does not contain gluten, but above all it asked that those peoples who live off it be helped with “small tools that facilitate their work.”