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Rainforest Expeditions Introduces Farm-to-Table, Locally Sourced Foods to Kitchens of Three Remote Lodges in Peruvian Amazon

Story by Rainforest Expeditions


Every Oct. 5 the Andean peoples of Peru celebrate the day of the Olluquito that signifies the importance of the From, one of 3,800 varieties of potato found in Peru and served at Rainforest Expeditions’ three eco-lodges deep in the Peruvian Amazon.

Peruvian chef

Peru’s visionary leader in sustainable tourism, Rainforest Expeditions, is introducing to its jungle accommodations farm-to-table, locally sourced foods such as Olluco to yield menus reflective of the region’s indigenous and immigrant traditions.

“Thanks to Peru's geography that offers such diverse bounty as abundant seafood from the coast, tropical fruits from the jungle and grains and potatoes endemic to the Andes, Peruvian cuisine is recognized around the world as one of the best in South America,” noted Jeff Cremer, Rainforest Expeditions spokesperson.

Historically a local cuisine has been overlaid with culinary influences from Europe, Africa and Asia. The result, Cremer said, is a colorful, richly textured table for all palates, including those favoring vegetarian and vegan options. For ingredients and where they’re sourced, menus and recipes used by the lodge kitchens, please see here.

An example of food endemic to Peru is Quinoa, a crucial native product in pre-Hispanic Andean civilizations. Considered sacred for the Incas, they called it “mother grain”. In the sowing time, the first furrow on the ground was dug in a ceremony with a golden tool. Quinoa, that is harvested 3,500 meters above sea level, is thought to be native of the Lake Titicaca region near Puno due to remains found in pre-Hispanic tombs 2,000 years old. Rainforest Expeditions lodges prepare a soup of this vital food with help of this soup making guide.

Chicken Patarashca is a dish native to the Peruvian jungle, made with fish of the Amazon or with chicken, prepared with regional ingredients, wrapped in Bijao leaves and roasted on coals. Native Cocama and Chayahuita peoples prepared it simply, using the edible hualo (giant frog) cooked in bamboo, lining the inside of the bamboo canes with Bijao leaves and grilling it on charcoal. The Huallaga riverside towns prepared it with small fish, muspachos, and creek shrimp called yucras. Patarashca is seasoned with sachaculantro, turmeric and other aromatic ingredients from the Peruvian jungle.

One of the most popular dishes, Cremer noted, is Aji de Gallina, a classic Peruvian favorite that combines the spicy heat of chili peppers with peanuts, garlic and other flavors. The roots of this recipe are said to hail from the years following the French revolution in the late 18th century. As the French aristocracy lost their power (and quite often their heads), their chefs had to look elsewhere for work. Many had to travel far and wide to find families who would hire them and some made their way to Peru. Here wealthy families hired French chefs to personally prepare their food. Although the chefs couldn't find the same ingredients used in many French preparations, they came up with dishes blending Peruvian ingredients with French cuisine.

On Day Two of a four-day/three-night stay at Refugio Amazonas, one of the three rainforest lodges, guests visit a farm just five minutes by boat downriver from the lodge. The farm is owned and managed by Don Manuel from the neighboring community of Condenado. He grows a variety of popular and little-known Amazon crops, with nearly every plant on the premises serving an important purpose in the day-to-day lives of the indigenous community. These include Manioc, Cocona, Copuazu, Plantains and other fruits and vegetables grown in a sustainable manner to preclude slash and burn methods that would destroy the environment. Much of the produce also finds its way to the lodge kitchens to be creatively prepared for guests. This all-inclusive stay is from $535 per person, double. See here.

Rainforest Expeditions’ string of three jungle lodges is accessed from Puerto Maldonado airport arriving from Limaor Cuscoon daily commercial flights lasting 45 or 90 minutes respectively. A bus transports guests to the Infierno River Port to board motorized wooden canoes for a 45-minute trip to the first lodge, Posada Amazonas. Refugio Amazonas, the second lodge, is a 3.5-hour boat trip after departing the bus. The third and most remote is Tambopata Research Center, requiring a 4-hour additional upriver boat ride from Refugio Amazonas.  Each lodge is only a few minutes on foot from the river bank.  See here.

In each of the three distinct locations, guests are accommodated in clean and comfortable, minimally appointed, three-sided rooms built of clay, wood and palm fronds.  The signature statement is to leave one wall open to the jungle so guests can hear, see and smell the rainforest.