Infinite ways of preparing rice, plantain and fish, with happiness sauce.
It has been 15 days last week, travelling through the most African land of Colombia. Like a nun on vacation I enjoyed its scenery, its rivers, its beaches and sea, its people and above all its delicious and exquisite cookery. Two years would not be enough to get to know this paradise with all it offers in terms of cooking, I dare say I could spend every day learning about a new recipe of the Afro-Colombian stove without being able to taste them all.
I must say I only had a chance to know some of the towns of the Gulf of Tribuga in a superficial way, and also that the many preparations I tasted are few if we consider the magnitude in existence. A broad look over the Chocoan cookery would discover, besides a most prolific seafood cooking, a delicious river cooking, an enigmatic forest cooking, an unknown Afro-indigenous cooking and finally a marvelous cooking that unites them all: Quibdó cooking.
Knowing that I did not taste all, I will try to describe my experience with the cooking of Gulf of Tribuga. I understand people are welcome to any beach they arrive in this Gulf, from Bahia Solano in the North to Punta Arusi, in the South, its landscape is exclusive, its people are kind and its cooking is wonderful. The God of Destiny sent me to a famous place with a tremendous name: MorroMico.
When you arrive there, you really see an earthly paradise. No painting brush or digital camera are enough to capture exactly the beauty of that place.! What a sea! !What a beach! !What a forest! ! The waterfalls! But most important: the people!
MorroMico is not a small town nor a village, it is a tiny inlet between Jurubida and El Valle where five people, two dogs and a parrot live. He is called Javier, she is Gloria (nicknamed La Negra), then there is Pablo and Sebastian, who with affection call the cooking lady Costeña; Aila, she is a blond labrador, and Selva, a black one and then Libertad, the parrot. All of them live in a hut of rustic architecture and absolute comfort.. Him and Her arrived at this beach more than 20 years ago, they settled in and today they are known and cherished by everyone in the area. The day I stepped into their home they modestly warned me: “we only eat rice, fried plantain and fish here”, and they were not lying, during 8 days I sat at their table with the most varied seafood that I had enjoyed in the half century of my existence. La Negra has become a hostess worthy of kings and Costeña, her most loyal and resourceful cook.
Breakfast, lunch or dinner were equally an adventure of good taste. The flavor was perfect, the presentation impeccable, the color balance and texture, the best. Delicious plates passed before my eyes and through my papillae: snapper stew in coconut milk; braised tuna; sierra cubes on cimarron coriander sauce; snapper skewers with lemon; sierra ceviche with red onion and home grown chili; fish empanadas; spaghetti with tuna sauce; snapper heads broth; croquettes with anchovy mayonnaise –the best and only anchovies in olive oil from the Colombian Pacific Ocean – and everything accompanied by wonders like: fried tiny bananas in honey, spongy rice, toasted banana slices, corn pies, fried cheese, and a big etcetera of perfect flavors.
And so it was, 8 days of authentic greed, nevertheless, a sin justifies itself with the human warmth of those who sin with you. At Morromico, the comfort and beauty of the house are like those you see in magazines; its beaches and landscape just like seen in a tourism brochure; the trips on the boat with Javier resemble National Geographic; walking through the forest with La Negra make you feel like living in Jungle Book; regarding Pablo and Sebastian, you can see in them the true happiness of a free childhood, with authority, without deceit. I had never met such a harmonic, beautiful and happy family.
Probably, like for all humans, life has its ups and downs, but surely in Morromico with its natural surroundings and its cookery where the most important sauce is happiness, it is impossible to get bored.
I hope the God of Destiny lets me come back to this people and this land, as I am sure it encloses, still without opening, the most nourishing pot of Colombia.
*Taken from “Visitamos & sapotiamos” by Doña Gula. Newspaper “Vivir en El Poblado: 2nd fortnight of 2005, edition 298.
This post is also available in: Spanish