Friday, April 04, 2008

FORTALEZA CORN FESTIVAL

Acre, Brazil
13 January 2008


Corn was the "plantation crop" this year at Vila Fortaleza. Because Amazonian soils are easily depleted of nutrients the sustainable agricultural practice is to rotate the annual plantings between corn, manioc and nitrogen-fixing beans. The sight of rows of corn brought back many memories from the US Midwest where I had spent my youth. The tropical variety of corn is quite impressive often growing to a height of over 10 feet. Here it is at the start of the harvest.

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At Fortaleza it had been common to see Padrinho Luiz working in the field or cleaning ears of corn for lunch. Often it was an occasion to sit with him helping out with the work and listening to stories.

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With the feitio recently completed and with the beginning of the harvest, it was now time for another kind of work-party, the Festa de Milho -- Corn Festival -- where we would learn how to make two common Brazilian dishes -- pamonha and cural. Both are made from corn paste and milk: the pamonha being wrapped in corn husks (tamale-style) and boiled; the cural being baked in a pan like a custard.

First step was to shuck the husks off the corn

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and then came the long process of grating

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and the cooking

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and finally the pamonhas

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and cural

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Across the day there was also another work party for cleaning Brazil nuts.

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More photos here.

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