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A Look Back At Tambo, The Culinary Symposium Bolivia Needs

By Patrick Hieger

photo 1 copy
When you’ve traveled internationally, paid a couple hundred dollars for a ticket, and rearranged your schedule to sit in on three days of talks and workshops dedicated to food and pushing the country ahead, it can be disconcerting when the symposium’s first invited speaker starts off by saying that she’s grown tired of symposiums.  “Symposiums have become repetitive,” said Luciana Bianchi, chef and award-winning culinary journalist. Most symposiums repeat the same material, she lamented.

However, Bianchi, in Bolivia for the first time, saw something new, and important.  “This congress has a very special voice,” she said.  A local voice.  A voice that can reach out to the government.  A voice that can create unity, and ultimately strength.  Tambo, as a symposium, had received Bianchi’s seal of approval. It was local, important, necessary.

Bolivia’s Tambo Returns September 16, 17, 18 (ES)

By Patrick Hieger

[MIGA]

[MIGA]

Now that we’re in full festival season mode, let’s go ahead and add another on top of the already packed list.  For the third year in a row, though in a slightly different format, Melting Pot y Gustu, in association with MIGA, will once again hold Tambo in La Paz.  Unlike past years, this year’s Tambo will be limited to a symposium of recognized chefs, eliminating the food and culture festival portion of the event.  The theme of this year’s symposium will be “Fortifying the Regional Gastronomy Culture through Family Agriculture.” 

[photo: Como Sur]

The Second Edition Of Tambo Comes To A Close or, Gustu, Part 1

[photo: Como Sur]

[photo: Como Sur]

By: Patrick Hieger

The second edition of Bolivia’s largest and most important culinary festival, Tambo, officially came to a close yesterday.  Late in the day the clouds took over the sky and rain started to fall, but after four days packed full of national Bolivian dishes, culture, dancing, music and more, a little rain wasn’t enough to ruin the festival.  According to the president of MIGA, the organizing body behind the festival, plans are already underway to make 2014’s Tambo even better than this year’s which, given the amount of Bolivians and the international talent that attended the festival, sounds like a delicious challenge.  I’m already hungry for more chicharrones, quinoa and mocochinchi.

Not to be overshadowed and, perhaps, a bit more important to the weekend’s events, the second edition of the International Symposium of Biodiversity and Gastronomy came to a close on Saturday, and the message couldn’t have been clearer.  Though acclaimed chefs and journalists like Ignacio Medina, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, Virgilio Martínez, and Diego Salazar took the stage during the first two days of the festival (see the coverage here and here), it was Gustu’s presentation that seemed to carry the most weight.  Left for the very end, prior to the closing comments, the team behind Gustu, sans Claus Meyer, made it very clear what their intentions are and what they could mean for Bolivia.

Chef Kamilla Seidler took the stage to roaring applause from the crowd.  Though Gustu may not be widely recognized throughout La Paz, as evidenced by many taxi drivers’ lack of knowledge on how to even arrive, it seemed that everyone in the symposium tent knew exactly what Gustu, and its foundation Melting Pot Bolivia, was.  To the right of her demo table sat two of Gustu’s cooks / students, awaiting their chance to talk Bolivia.  Seidler was first to speak.  To her right, the Melting Pot Bolivia banner.  To her left, the Gustu banner, who’s slogan reads, in Spanish, “We believe we can change the world through food.”

This isn’t about Denmark, she said.  It’s about Bolivia.  It’s about the kids, the Melting Pot students.  We want to put Bolivia on the map.  Seidler, with her white skin and blonde hair, stood in front of room filled mostly with Bolivians, a few Peruvians, and a few others of us mixed in, and made it very clear that giving Bolivia a chance is her main objective.  Her Spanish is clean, deliberate, learned during her time spent working at Spain’s Mugaritz.  Appearances, origins aside, it’s clear that she’s focused on being in Bolivia, focused on making Gustu something valuable, focused on more than just being the chef that brought high dining to one of the poorest countries in South America.

Though Claus Meyer presented at last year’s symposium, Gustu wasn’t yet open.  The construction was underway and the idea was in place, but the restaurant hadn’t yet had the opportunity to show what it, and its team, can do.  Seidler spoke passionately about Bolivian ingredients and how they’re only starting to discover what’s available.  The menu changes every six weeks to give both the chefs and their diners a chance to see what’s new, what new discoveries have been made.  “It’s not a museum,” she said.  It’s a process.

About Bolivia or not, Denmark naturally came up.  Two of key players in Gustu’s management hail from Copenhagen, three of the key players have lived and worked there.  It’s funded, in part, by a Dane.  Its owner is co-owner of Noma, the second-best restaurant in the world.  The need to talk about Denmark is understandable, forgivable in its intent.  It’s an inevitable link.

To that point, though, Seidler made it clear that she, along with Jonas Andersen, Michelangelo Cestari and Joan Carbó, are outsiders, but in being so they bring a different point of view.  A point of view and a new set of eyes.  A new way of seeing things.  The goal is push forward and celebrate Bolivian cuisine.  Sometimes it takes an outsider to say, “Hey, there’s more than one way to do that.”  That’s what Gustu aims to do.

As she finished to another round of applause and moved over to prepare some dishes using native Bolivian ingredients, the chef handed the microphone, the stage, over to her cook and student, Kenso Hiroze.  I expected him to be timid, but he took the mic with authority.  He jumped right into the mantra, talking about how Bolivia needs to praise the best the land has to offer, “marvelous things from nature.”  It’s not about discovering new things, he said.  The undiscovered is already new.  And with that, the crowd once again roared with applause.

[photo: Como Sur]

[photo: Como Sur]

Hiroze went on to talk about how food can and should make you feel like a kid again.  It should take you back to your childhood which, he said, is what Gustu has done for him.  Gustu has made him see the splendor that Bolivia has to offer.  Certain flavors have taken him back, caused him to ask why he doesn’t eat that anymore.  Pride, overall, was the point of his speech.  “I’m Bolivian and I cook Bolivian.”  What more could he say?

Though nearly impossible to follow such a commanding finish from one of the students whose lives Gustu hopes to further and enrich, Joan Carbó took the stage to talk specifically about the same new and undiscovered Bolivian products that each and every panel of the symposium talked about.  Carbó, a Spaniard, is in charge of Gustu’s ‘Laboratorio de Alimentos Bolivianos,’ or L.A.B., for short.  Need a comparison?  Think Noma’s Nordic Food Lab, which focuses on new and undiscovered Nordic ingredients, and their use in gastronomy.  Denmark pops up again, but the model for discovery is almost undeniably perfect.

[photo: Como Sur]

[photo: Como Sur]

Carbó made it clear that he is not a chef, but rather a researcher, a forager, if you must, the head of discovery for Gustu.  His Spanish accent and piercing eyes took immediate control as he talked about the joy, the pride of discovery.  Another outsider taking a deeper look at the hidden treasures awaiting discovery in Bolivia.  “Traditional dishes are like photos,” he said.  His goal is to help create more photos.  New photos.  Fresh photos.

Working hand in hand with both the chefs and the students, Carbó said that he wants to develop ingredients to be able to help push Bolivia to the limits of gastronomy.  Everyone has a role in the process.  Outsiders and Bolivians alike.  Pushing towards the end of his speech, his tone increasing in power and excitement like a presidential candidate on the campaign trail, he put forth two goals.  The first, to see that Gustu, and Bolivia, are represented on the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants next year.  The second, to see that Gustu, and Bolivia, are on the World’s 50 Best list within three years.   Bolivia, and its ingredients, on the world stage.  Come to the restaurant and get involved, he implored the crowd.  “Nuestra casa es su casa.”  Roaring applause.

Next up, Mauricio Zarata, another of Gustu’s cooks / students.  Two years prior, he wasn’t thinking about cooking.  He came to be at the restaurant by chance.  And there he has learned to have pride in himself, in his nation.  “We should’t envy other nations.  Other nations should envy us.”  Bolivian products are centuries old.  They’re simply awaiting peoples’ curiosity.  Zarata, as did his fellow cook, ended on a high note, his voice full of excitement and passion.  Let’s see to it that there’s less poverty, less malnutriton.  Let’s support what’s ours.  Let’s support Bolivia.  “Everybody with me on three.  Viva Bolivia!”  One.  Two.  Three.  The tent roared.

[photo: Como Sur]

[photo: Como Sur]

As Gustu’s time on stage ended, the symposium slowly came to a close, but not before some closing remarks could be made.  Tambo has been a good example of how the country can work together, said Conny Teornstra, director of ICCO.  What guests have seen at the stands isn’t just about food, but about biodiversity and a dynamic country.  Preparing for 2014’s Tambo isn’t just up to the coordinators–it’s a job for everyone.

MIGA Director Alvaro Montes’ voice seemed to crack as he talked bout the sense of melancholy that comes in closing such an event.  Bolivia is rich, and full of marvelous people, he said.  This is a moment to reinvent Bolivia.  Movement is irreversible.

Michelangelo Cestari, Gustu co-chef and manager, spoke last.  It was short and sweet.  It’s time to integrate the region.  If countries aren’t sharing, we all suffer.  For others to respect us, we have to respect what’s ours.  And with one final native dance and another massive round of applause, Tambo’s 2nd annual International Symposium came to a close.  Melancholy was, probably, the best word to describe the moment.  Hope and uncertainty hanging together like clouds and sun.

[photo: Como Sur]

[photo: Como Sur]

Tambo, the festival, ended Sunday with a party, a two for one deal on entry, more food and more culture.  The message, though, was set in stone when the symposium ended on Saturday.  It’s time to move Bolivia ahead, and it’s going to take everyone’s cooperation.  Outside, once the closing remarks had been made, the demo table moved away and the clean-up process had begun, guests at the symposium had their own thoughts, their own remarks.

For some, the message was a rousing success.  Yes, Bolivia needs to move forward.  Yes, Bolivia and its people need to take pride in their ingredients, in their country, in themselves.  For others, it wasn’t so much skepticism as it was hesitation.  Is the message that these non-natives are delivering to a country that has never been cutting edge too dictatorial?  Can one restaurant really hope to achieve so much, through food?    There are no guarantees, no definitive answers.  Hope, constant collaboration, and support seem like important options at this point.

And that’s Gustu, the message.  Part one.  The reasons.  Gustu hopes to be a mantra, a message, a manifesto, and an impetus for an entire country.  Every person involved, from the locals to the outsiders wants to see Bolivia, not just La Paz, and not just their restaurant, grow and move ahead.  “The movement” was one of the most widely used phrases of the weekend.  And it really feels like there’s a movement happening.  Live and in person.

Gustu, the restaurant, is a different beast entirely.  Modern, big, a presence.  The message is one thing.  The food, and how a demonstration of what Bolivia has to offer and just how incredible it could be–well, that’s a slightly different story.

[photo: Como Sur]

Tambo, Day Two

After a rousing first day of the International Symposium for Biodiversity and Gastronomy, the second day kicked into high gear with Sergio Meza, sous chef and head of research and development for Santiago’s Boragó.  Although Rodolfo Guzmán, Boragó’s chef and owner was abroad cooking, Meza did a fantastic job of conveying the message of the restaurant.  At just 23 years old, he has already worked in such restaurants as Noma, In De Wulf, and Geranium, to name a few.  His pedigree precedes him, the work he has done at Boragó has helped move the restaurant ahead, and he speaks with confidence in front of a crowd.  Given the nature of Tambo and the push to make Bolivia proud of its own resources, a speech and demo about the culinary treasures that are to be found in the far corners of Chile seemed all too fitting.

Meza began his talk with two videos that highlight what Boragó aims to do.  Each video showed products like edible parasites, or herbs that come from a bush that only grows in the north of Chile.  Beautifully produced and enthralling to watch, the videos tell the story not just of two dishes, but also the power of transformation that cooking can have when applied to often forgotten ingredients.  There’s a reason that Boragó was recently voted number eight on the first-ever list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants.  Bolivia, as the symposium has aimed to show, has the same potential.

From there, Meza began his demo using cochayuyo, a wild variety of bull kelp that grows in abundance on the coast of Chile.  An almost magical product, cochayuyo can be used from everything to a teething ring for babies, to thickening sauces, and to creating a natural seasoning in dishes.  According to Meza, Chile’s cochayuyo is the only algae in the world that has its specific structure.  It’s not much to look at, but boy can it work wonders.  After showing some slides of how the kelp is harvested, he invited a few attendees to the stage for a taste taste.  On one side, a reduction of cochayuyo to a black liquid that looked identical to soy sauce, the other product he had on stage.  Those on stage were invited to try and distinguish between the two, though most could not.  And that was the point.  Take what the land gives to you and make the most of it.

The message that comes from Boragó is always quite simple, regardless of how complex the dishes there can be.  Look deeper at what the land, the sea, the mountains, and so on provide, and take advantage.  Just because it grows wild and looks funny at first, it won’t necessarily taste bad in the end.  It’s the same message that each speaker has given to those attending the symposium.  To cultivate Bolivia, its gastronomy, its economy, its people, it just takes effort.

After Sergio Meza left the stage, it was time for acclaimed Peruvian chef Virgilio Martinez to take the stage.  Not simply an honor for Tambo, only in its second year, to have a recently-Michelin starred chef present, Martínez and the other chefs’ presence sets a standard for what Tambo could be.  What, hopefully, it will be.  Martínez began his talk with a mention of his Mater Iniciativa project, which is set to scour Peru for edible ingredients, from Andes to Amazon, Amazon to sea.  Pushing nature to action, as he put it.  The message, which he would deliver via his demo and the videos he showed, is that for every region there is a cuisine.  And Peru, like Bolivia, is teeming with a variety of regions.

Before cooking, Martínez also showed a couple of videos highlighting Peru’s Amazon region, as well as the altitude the country displays, a key fixture in his current menu at Lima’s Central.  And from there, he began to cook, demonstrating the variety of products that come from the different altitudes.  His first plate, entitled “Extreme Altitude,” is a combination of high altitude potatoes, as well as a sort of Andean algae / bacteria that grows in small pockets of water.  Having had and loved this dish at Central during Mistura, it was nice to see, smell, and remember it again.  From there, he descended to the jungle, with a dish of the now popular paiche, a large Amazonian fish made popular by chefs like Alex Atala and Pedro Miguel Schiaffino.  He had dyed the fish with a red cactus called irampo, then sliced it thinly like sashimi and plated it with a leche de tigre and shredded hearts of palm.

Though demos can often be rather boring due to a lack of interaction, Martínez made sure that his time on stage didn’t simply end with him plating up some dishes.  He invited Central’s sommelier Greg Smith and Pisco Inquebrantable’s Pepe Risco on stage to talk about Peruvian wines and piscos, and how they pair with dishes like those he had demoed.  From there, a panel of lucky attendees were invited on stage to try the wine and pisco with the plates, and to describe the pairings.  Interactivity.  It gets the people going.

The reason this interaction was so important came in a conversation the day before with Martínez.  He said, and rightfully so, that symposiums, conferences, forums and so on can get bogged down with the same routine demo, Q&A and so on.  For him, though, the moment he can get people on stage, tasting the food, talking about the food, showing an interest–that’s the moment everything changes.  If you can’t interact with the food, then what’s the point?

Tambo’s symposium will finish up today with highly awaited demos and talks from Gustu chefs Kamilla Seidler and Michelangelo Cestari.  The last two days have shown the power food can have, and that it is having in countries like Ecuador, Chile, Peru, and South America at large.  Ending the symposium with the two chefs who are working their hardest to make sure that Bolivian food has a future seems only fitting.  A send-off.  A challenge.  Words of encouragement.  We’ll have that written up for you, too.

[photo: Como Sur]

[photo: Como Sur]

[photo: Como Sur]

[photo: Como Sur]

[image: Tambo]

Tambo: The Hits

 

The festival, because it’s set in the heart of La Paz and therefore on a gigantic slope, is basically divided into three levels.  We’ve run the course of each and, with a few recommendations from locals, ended up with our favorites.  Come hungry–the portions are huge.

Upper Level

Everything:  Yep, everything.  The whole upper level is where the grilled, smoked, fire-roasted meats are happening.  Pork on a spit.  Pork heads.  Ribs.  All of it.  And in addition to the pork, there’s an Amazonian fish called Sábalo that they’re doing two ways: grilled or fried.  You pick.

Main Level

Gustu: Though it may seem like the obvious choice given that they sponsor the festival and have the best technology available to create amazing plates, it doesn’t get better than perfectly cooked, succulent pork over a quinoa salad.  Confited and then grilled on a flat top, the perfectly soft, caramelized pork is served atop a  cool quinoa salad with carrots, pineapple, chicharrones, and peanuts.  If you can’t make it to Gustu proper, this is still the best cooking in La Paz.

Cerveza Aleksandra:  Around the corner from Gustu’s booth, they also have a booth that’s just selling beers and lemonade.  The beers are the same that can be found in the restaurant, all native to Bolivia.  The Golden Ale by Aleksandra is, far and away, one of the best beers we’ve ever tried.  Light and refreshing like a perfect wheat beer, it is the perfect choice to accompany the aforementioned pork, and to beat the heat.  And, yes, it’s simply the red label.  No style.  Red.  Get it.

The Juice Trailer:  A good portion of the stands don’t have a proper name or signage.  The best we can tell you is to look for an old-style, railroad-car looking trailer that’s selling juice.  Main level.  Off to the side.  It’s hot as hell out here and the sun’s beating down.  Get yourself a fresh juice and cool off.

Nami’s Chicharon de Oruro:  A huge basket full of boiled mote / choclo, chuño, chicharrones, pork and hot sauce.  Pork and hot sauce.

Lower Level

La Estancia: On the outskirts of the lower level, closest to the street, you’ll find a stand loosely called ‘La Estancia’ selling Mondongo.  A national Bolivian dish, this is pork that is first boiled in herbs, then cooled and fried in its own fat.  From there, the fried pork is mixed with ají rojo–a smoky, spicy chile–and maíz.  Fried pork with chiles.

Huminta Humancha: On the middle row on the lower level, you’ll find our next three favorites.  The huminta is a sweet corn cake that is steamed until soft.   It’s served in a spicy green sauce with queso criollo.  Be sure and ask for a small portion.

Carnes al cilindro: Pork and chicken smoked in a barrel.  Pork and chicken smoked in a barrel.  Pork and chicken smoked in a barrel.  Right down the row from the humintas.

Jugo de Mocochinchi: Just like Chile’s mote con huesillos, minus the mote.  This is a refreshing juice for the heat, made by boiling the mocochinchi (dried peaches) until a sugary nectar results.  Drink several for the heat.

 

[photo: Como Sur]

Tambo: The Real Day One

[photo: Como Sur]

Although Tambo was officially inaugurated on Wednesday with a speech from the mayor, a few people dressed up like spicy chiles and other festivities, the real action began yesterday with the start of the 2nd annual International Symposium of Biodiversity and Gastronomy.  There were a few hiccups along the way, including a temporary power outage that left a couple of the initial speakers without microphones or video, but the show, as it must, went on.  The morning kicked off with a dance to celebrate Bolivia’s most important national agricultural product, quinoa.  Dancers took to the stage and floated about like quinoa in the wind, all the while a video of the product in its untouched state showed behind them.

Over the course of the day, in front of a room packed full of Bolivian culinary students, members of Slow Food, press, culinary professionals and so on, speakers like Ignacio Medina, Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, and even the Vice Minister of Bolivian tourism talked about the importance of gastronomy to a nation.  And while the speakers weren’t all from Bolivia, each and every talk circled back to the country at hand, and all the splendor it has to offer.  There were, naturally, some standouts.

Once Spanish-cum-Peruvian food writer and critic Ignacio Medina took the stage, it didn’t matter that he didn’t have a functioning microphone.  The stage, the room, was his.  “Let’s talk about food,” he said, and everyone listened, captivated.  As he does in his weekly articles for periodicals like Peru’s El Comercio or Spain’s El País, he cut right to the chase, without hesitation.  His talk began with the importance of food and how it can define a nation.  It can be a decisive factor in economic development, and can be a vehicle for action.  Change through gastronomy.  As he went on to talk about Bolivia can and should become a new destination for gastronomy in South American, he told the story of how, just 10 years ago, Gastón Acurio went from owning a high-end French restaurant to completely changing that restaurant’s focus to only serving Peruvian cuisine.  “10 years ago, Peruvians dreamed about not being Peruvian.”  Case in point.  Now, it’s a guiding force in the development of the boom that South American gastronomy is experiencing.

From there he went on to discuss, in part, how Bolivia can take advantage of that boom.  With economic crises happening in Europe and the United States, he said, professionals are turning to Latin America.  Travel all around and you’ll see change, progress, happening.  After all, weren’t we sitting in the middle of a culinary festival in Bolivia sponsored in large part by Gustu and its network of enterprises?  But, why isn’t there more Bolivian cuisine?  “Are you embarrassed,” Medina asked of the crowd.  And that, in large part, was the heart of the matter.  That even a country like Bolivia, or Peru, or Chile, and so on, have these deep-rooted, common foods that a country is accustomed to eating, there’s no reason those foods can’t be elevated, and made outstanding.

From tradition comes innovation.  You can’t think about food in the 21st century as you did in the 19th.  “Platos son hijos del tiempo.”  Cuisine is born from the time at which it exists.  And from there he began to finish.  Look at what the country has to offer and use it.  You, Bolivia, have the products to support and showcase the best cuisine in the world.  Dare to do so.  And from there the day truly began, full of excitement.

Mauricio Acuña, from Ecuador, took the stage in the afternoon.  He began his demo by talking about Latin America and how it is poised to be the next “superpower” in international gastronomy.  Festivals like Tambo, he said, are a celebration of “what our countries have to offer.  He talked of how, in Ecuador, he had to basically fight against the government to get them to understand that food is cultural, that it is a part of the country.  As part of a sort of “product rescue,” a central theme of his speech and Tambo as a whole, he talked about having to not only find, but then support the small producers.  After all, they are the backbone of any great kitchen.  And from there, he gave us two dishes that weren’t simply reflective of Ecuador, but the bounty that Amazonian and Andean nations have to offer, including a vgetarian quinoa-based “cheese,” and quinoa milk.

Closing out the day it was Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, owner of Lima’s Malabar and Ámaz.  His energy and passion for the Amazon are nearly intoxicating, as was the poisonous yucca he discussed.  A simplified, location-specific version of the demo he gave at Mistura, Schiaffino showed his video about yucca brava, and how the Comunidad Bora de Pucaurquillo take this product that is naturally poisonous and turn it into various products like breads, fermented beverages, and more.  As he plated two dishes involving yucca in various forms, he talked about how he started delving into the Amazon in the first place.  “If you don’t love it, you won’t take care of it,” he said.  And so he went deeper into the jungle to gain a better understanding of the products that he had grown to love using.  Bolivia need simply do the same.

The want to compare Tambo to Mistura is obvious.  A South American country hosting a culinary festival to get a nation behind its food and to, in turn, bolster the economy.  And perhaps Tambo isn’t that different from Mistura, at least in its roots.  Bolivia has a long way to go, though, to achieve what Peru has.  To watch chefs, writers, and other professionals come in and discuss and praise the bounty that a country like Bolivia has to offer–well, that’s a milestone in itself.  We’ll continue our coverage through the festival’s end.  If you’re in La Paz, don’t hestitate to come out.  It’s absolutely worth it.

 

[image: Tambo]

Tambo: Getting Around

Well, the day has finally come.  The festival will be officially inaugurated around midday and then it’s five days of eat, drink, and celebrate.  Are you going?  If you are going, be sure and check out the festival’s official map.  The festival will be divided into restaurants, coffee, sponsors, beer, and more.  We’ll be posting our festival recommendations tomorrow, so be sure and check back in.  For now, and if you’re in La Paz, be sure and head over for the inauguration!

[image: Tambo]

[image: Tambo]

[image: Tambo]

Tambo Bolivia

[image: TAMBO]
[image: TAMBO]

Though we’ve been mumbling about Tambo for the past couple of months, now that Bolivia’s biggest and brightest food festival is less than three weeks away, we wanted to give you some real inspiration to get your tickets and look forward to going to La Paz.  Now in its second year, Bolivia, as a country, is using Tambo as a means of unification through gastronomy, agriculture and, ultimately health, to deepen and strengthen a sense of national pride.  Though the festival is the main attraction and will bring together purveyors, growers, chefs, and other professionals from across Bolivia, the festival is organized by MIGA – Movimiento Gastronómico Boliviano (Bolivian Gastronomy Movement) – the heart and soul behind the festival.

MIGA, as put forth in its 11-part manifesto, is focused on developing and maintaining a national awareness throughout Bolivia of the richness that the country has to offer through its cuisine, and to therefore promote national pride as a means of developing the nation.  If this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because Peru has virtually done the same thing with food, and we all know how well it’s working for them.  In short, MIGA wants to put Bolivia on the map through agriculture and cuisine.  It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

TAMBO – El Testimonio Alimentario de mi Madre Tierra Boliviana Orgullo Nacional – is best thought of as the nice packaging Bolivia is using to prevent its cause.  Or, rather, the delicious, high-altitude, exotic-ingredients and more-filled packaging that visitors get to enjoy as they promote the development of Bolivia and, therefore, South America, as an international culinary leader.  The festival will take place from October 16 to 20 in La Paz’s Parque Urbano Central and, yes, Gustu will be present.

The reason that we, as a source for South American culinary news, are so excited about Tambo is because it is cooking in action.  It’s cooking, and food, and gastronomy for a cause.  For a nation.  Hell, for a unified continent.  Peru has already shown the world that a nation can come together through food, so why can’t Bolivia be next?  It’s all very exciting.

In the upcoming days leading up to the festival, we’ll be featuring as much Bolivian goodness as we can, including an interview with the chefs behind Bolivia’s hot new star restaurant, Gustu.  Though the chefs hail from Denmark and Venezuela, their pride for what Bolivia can do and has already done is unmatched.  So, keep posted for that.

In the meantime, take a look at Tambo’s website and get to planning your trip.  The festival is going to be a blast regardless but, at altitude, who knows what kind of fun can be had.  We’ll be there!  We certainly can’t wait.