A taste of central America

By | Category: Travel news

Feeling a little flat now that the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations have been and gone? We know the feeling which is why we’re looking forward to next week’s first ever Central American Food Festival in London. Hosted by His Excellency, The Ambassador of Honduras Pro Tempore President of SICA, and Heads of Mission from Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama and Dominican Republic, the unique week-long culinary exploration will take place at the Cookbook Cafe at InterContinental London Park Lane from June 12-17 and celebrate contemporary cuisine from Central America and the Caribbean.

Linking South America to North America, the region is one of the worlds’ most bio-diverse and culturally rich provinces. The festival will take diners on a journey though the culinary history of Central America demonstrating how the geography inspired a fusion of Creole, Mayan, Garifuna, Afro-Caribbean, Spanish, British, Caribbean, Chinese, and North American culinary influences.

Acclaimed chef Mario Castrellon of Maito restaurant in Panama will be headlining the gourmet exploration beside Chefs from Intercontinental San Pedro Sula in Honduras and the Dominican Republic. The chefs will work along with executive chef Paul Bates at InterContinental London Park Lane to prepare authentic dishes with ingredients from the region. The week-long culinary festivals will and deliver creative, authentic menus, interactive cookery demonstrations and seminars from acclaimed chefs. Diners can sit back, relax and totally immerse themselves in the culture and cuisine of Central America.

Each of the eight countries will have a culinary representation through signature dishes and tasting menus, including:

* Sopa de caracol – originally from the northern part of Honduras this soup is made with conch, spices, and vegetables from the northern shores. It has been made since ancestral times by the Garifuna community and is one of the most sought-after preparations in Honduras.

* Gallo Pinto – made with beans, rice, and spices, this dish represents the local gastronomy of Costa Rica and its culinary influence.

* Pupusas – the most significant and creative input of Salvadorian gastronomy to the world. Made with corn tortilla and pork, ground to a paste consistency (called chicharrón.)

* Kak’ik – created to be served only on special occasions, such as Mayan ceremonials, rituals, and weddings, the traditional soup is made with dried chilies, vegetables, and turkey.

* Vigoron – an emblematic meal from Nicaragua, this dish features mandioc, pork, cabbage salad, and sauce.

* Sancocho – combining different kinds of meats, vegetables, and spices in a broth, this is a true representation of Panamanian cuisine.

* Chivo Guisado – a Dominican Republic favourite made with oregano-fed goats raised in the mountains of the Island.

* Serre with Hudut – a traditional dish of the sea-faring Garifuna people, this Belizean specialty is made with red snapper and served with mashed green plantains.

* Tamales – a Mayan preparation from the Central American area made with a corn flour paste; called ‘masa’ and filled with a traditional ‘recado’ sauce, chicken, beef, or pork.

A daily changing schedule of events includes a Central American street food evening, a Mayan exploration, and an evening with chef Castrellon. For the full low-down on Fusión, please visit www.cookbookcafe.co.uk.

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