Because of its traditional and ancient flavors and ingredients, Manabí food has the capability to make people connect with a single sentiment -the enjoyment of food full of history and evocation of memories linked to the family-.
In Manabí, each member of the family plays a role in contributing to the food supply.
Adult and young men cultivate the land to obtain primary products such as peanuts, cassava, corn, bananas, fruits and vegetables. They also perform tasks such as milking cattle, fishing, carrying firewood and water, and supplying other resources and cooking implements. Women collect and carefully select the ingredients destined for the household. With their hands they transform the products and turn them into a myriad of dishes, depending on the season. With them they provide sustenance for the family, neighbors and the occasional visitor who joins the table in a timely manner. Grandmothers are a frequent “encyclopedia” of traditional techniques and recipes. Grandparents are guardians of the seeds and predictors of the best harvests. With shouts, children are the “alarm” that communicates to the tillers of the soil that the food is ready and the morning’s work is done.
It is through the enjoyment of food and the pleasure of eating good tasting products that a part of the culture and identity of the people gets built. Locals and strangers flow to the province of Manabi, in search of the most renowned dishes, whose ingredients come directly from the sea and the land, combining flavors in flowery banquets. During the holidays throughout the year, in the caravans of vehicles that travel through the Manabí geography, no economic or ideological differences are distinguished; the only thing that prevails is the unique feeling of wanting to reach the province in search of an unforgettable gastronomic experience.
As part of the consolidation process of the Latitud Iche, Gastronomic Tourism Joint Route, Slow Food, with the collaboration of Valentina Alvarez (Gastronomic Coordinator of FUEGOS) held workshops on Manabi food, focused on good, clean and fair principles. The purpose of these workshops was to gather experiences and stories of 32 actors of Latitud Iche. The exercise consisted in putting into practice the preparation of emblematic dishes such as viche, ceviche Jipijapa, salprieta and troliche, with products that are part of the local food heritage and with a strong emphasis on the use of the traditional Manabi fogón.
The opinions gathered during the workshops reflected 42 main characteristics of Manabí food, based on flavors/smells, products, places and memories. The peanut is the star product since it is used in the most recognized local recipes; while the countryside, along with nature, stands out as the place people think of most when tasting local dishes. As for the smell/flavor, the “smoked” aroma predominates, and it is directly associated with the cooking of food on the Manabí fogón. Ancestors and family, particularly grandparents, evoke memories from the culinary legacy that has been inherited to the present day. The rest of the characteristics reported reflect that Manabí food is conceived as diverse and special; achieving personal, family and collective satisfaction.
Manabí food implies a broad vision; finding that it encourages sustainable development by safeguarding the cultural and natural heritage, promoting gender equity, stimulating learning processes and generating human emotions that connect with the past and life experiences.