November 29, 2012

The Jungle [Cook]Book

In July I arrived in Ecuador to work for the Timburi Cocha Scientific Research Station, Payamino, for my year in industry. Fully prepared as I was to spend a year in the jungle, cut-off from civilisation, and living on rice and beans, I won't deny my delight in the fact the research station has flush-toilets, a cold shower (of sorts…), a satellite internet connection, and a kitchen. And the food has been far from your bog-standard rice and beans!


Tamara Williams (AKA Sámara, AKA Farmer Tea), a fellow zoology placement student from Manchester, has been bestowed the role of head chef – for good reason. We've had meals far fancier than those my usual broke-student-in-a-hurry diet would consist of, from red bean chili with tortilla wraps to lentil and cauliflower dahl with naan breads, even Irish colcannon! She's pioneered "steam-baking" at the station by making peach sponge and banana bread without an oven, so I'm quite happy I can resume baking even from the middle of the rainforest (Image 1).

Image 1 - Barmbrack, left; banana bread, right. As cooked in a pot inside a bigger pot of boiling water...
No matter how delicious and satisfying the meals, however, fried sides and snacks have become omnipresent. Yuca (you may know as cassava, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassava) and banana, in its various encarnations, have almost become staples for us. Below are yuca chips (Image 2), fried maduro (mature plantain; Image 3), and guiñeo (elsewhere referred to as bananitos, ndizzi, or finger bananas; Image 4). Other ways we've enjoyed bananoids is as patacones (fried verde, green or unripe plantain; photos to come), and oat and banana "milk"shake, the latter made with powdered milk, as milk doesn't keep in the tropical heat without a fridge.

Image 2 - Yuca chips
Image 3 - Fried maduro (mature plantain)


Image 4 - Ripening and overly ripe guiñeo

Unfortunately, I am guilty of expanding the fried menu further by often taking over breakfast. Below are the recipes for kabalagala (Ugandan banana pancakes) and mofo menakely (Malagasy dough balls; Image 5).


Image 5 - Mofo menakely, Malagasy dough balls

Fried corn or choclo and pop-corn or canguili, are popular snacks at the station as well, or now that corn is in season, we've been enjoying America's edible gold on the cob – at least we don't deep fry that! [Image 6]

Image 6 - Sweet corn grown in Payamino


Frieds aside, I have resumed the jam-making role I have at home. So below is pineapple jam [Image 7]. Next I want to make one with the various fruits grown in the region, and have a Payamino jam to share. I predict this will primarily consist of chihuilla (pineapple) and cocona (naranjilla).

Image 7 - Pineapple jam

NB - I will endeavour to stop posting about food and resume writing about camera traps and bromeliads and whatnot!

1 comment :

  1. I saw something just like the corn you made on satellite tv the other night.

    ReplyDelete