There’s something to be said of a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ dining experience, especially one that takes you into the Amazon jungle without even having to set foot in the jungle itself. La Chagra Amazones is a restaurant in Medellin that takes you there, and gives you more than just ‘another’ dining experience.
Since I was very young I’ve always wished for something a whole lot more than just a meal when visiting a restaurant. While it can be said that some restaurants find success in food, and food alone, other restaurants often have a very interesting story to tell – and the Amazon jungles history is some story, told in good culinary flair and creativity by La Chagra Amazones.
I arrived at the restaurant and was welcomed by the
maître d a Amazon Tribesman who was wearing little more than traditional dress – this is when it clicked that this was going to be a very different restaurant experience. I was shown to the table, and was given the menu, but knowing that the degustation or ‘tasting’ menu was what I had come here to experience I promptly told the waiter that I wanted to have the 12 course menu.
As we waited for the first course to arrive the maître d walked through the restaurant and was burning incense while doing some kind of ceremonial blessing.
Our first course arrived and it wasn’t food – it was time to have a shot of Amazonian medicine – Chuchuguaza cocktail (more info here), the likes of which I simply couldn’t decipher in my long and varied food and drink encyclopedia – this is when it suddenly hit me that I was venturing into ‘unknown food territory’, and this is why I was here – the Amazon Jungle has tribes which have had very little, and in some cases no outside contact, so it was only fitting that the first course was a surprise, and that I had no idea what I was drinking made me even more emboldened to proceed to the next course. The medicine consumed, and that I was still breathing was a good sign.
Time to have some food (as opposed to a liquid dinner), and it was time to try Chontaduro soup with cassava cracker and mojojoy head. Chontaduro is a type of fruit known as ‘peach palm’ and is popular around Colombia for its known properties – lifting libido, and extending one’s performance in the bedroom, as well as lifting energy levels overall. Cassava cracker is made from root vegatable, and mojojoy is a type of worm found in the Amazon jungle, and is often eaten alive – the mojojoy head was served in the soup as a starter, the worm was served in the next course.
Next up it was time to get in the dirt for a bit of stuffed mojojo, which is when I realised that my dining companions had a look of shock on their faces, and I simply relished the opportunity to try something not traditionally served up in your go-to hamburger takeaway, and I had come a long way for experiences like this – ‘what haven’t you tried in your life?’ I asked my fellow dining companions, to which they replied that this was one such dish they had never tried, and nor had I, so I grabbed my knife and fork and I delicately cut into the slippery little sucker now on my plate, and I began to eat this dish (thankfully it was marinated in some kind of herbs and spices), after which point I found it rather tasty, yet the texture was somewhat different, and it was indeed something I had never eaten. The stuffed texture consisted of an Amazon river caught fish, which seemed mildly tasty (not too strong). One of my fellow dining companions took it upon himself to bravely go where I decidedly hadn’t gone – to opt for seconds! I wasn’t ‘chicken’ in the sense that I was refusing to have more, no, not at all – I was simply not wanting to have more knowing we had 10 more dishes on the way, and that I had better leave some room in my gut for more of what we had just consumed.
Crunchy casaba with calabresa (a type of Brazilian sausage) – casaba is a fruit also known as honeydew melon, and calabresa is a type of brazilian sausage.
Pirarucu – a type of fish found in the Amazon river.
Patarasca (fish cooked in banana leaf) and Fariña (yuca flour).
Tacacho – a type of cheese ball made with Yuca
Borojo and pork. Green creamy rice
Grilled microvegetales and Sacha Inchi butter
Cachasa and camu camu shot
Chocolate and Sacha Inchi truffle
Copoazu ice cream, cacao, Sacha Inchi and coca powder.