Peru represents one of the most fascinating culinary cultures in the world. Its inherent product diversity is second to no other country in the world from its Andean potatoes and corn to its coastal seafood to its Amazonian fruit and fauna. I have personally experienced a fair amount of it first hand. Its natural pantry combined with the cultural mix of its people has created an amazing multicultural cuisine. Given that one of the main motivations of Madrid Fusión is to open up the eyes of its attendees to new and unusual treatments of food, one of the most interesting demonstrations of the entire Congress was that of Pedro Miguel Schiaffino from the restaurant Malabar in Lima. His presentation was entitled: The Natural Pantry of the Amazon Jungle: The Last Version of Peruvian Cuisine. Schiaffino, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, worked at and learned from a number of restaurants in Italy before going back to Lima to open his restaurant.
Brazilian chef Alex Atala enjoying his fellow South American's presentation
Schiaffino started his demo by showing a mesmerizing film about the produce of the Peruvian Amazon as well as his attempts to gather some of it. He described fruits like the aguaje, the vitamin C & A rich fruit of the moriche palm; the camu-camu, a leathery skinned, Vitamin C rich berry; chonta, hearts of palm that he cuts into thin strips; uvilla , the juicy Amazon tree grape; and macambo, a theobromic relative of cacao. Schiaffino also described some of the fauna fish he uses from the upper Amazon such as the large Amazon snail and the gamitana (aka pacu), a large fish from which he fashions a meat-like rib chop, the carachama, an armored catfish and the paiche, one of the largest freshwater fish in the world.
Harvesting carachama roe
For his demos, Schiaffino focused on showing his grilled gamitana ribs with cassava puree and chorizo sauce and breadfruit blinis, chestnut cheese and carachama caviar.
Schiaffino is a creative chef helping to redefine contemporary Peruvian cooking using an incredible assortment of indigenous ingredients. The room was captivated.
Schiaffino with his Platings after the Demo