Monday, December 10, 2007

Tapioca Project and Cooking Contest

This week in Rio has been filled with fantastic opportunities to get to know Teresa Corção and Margarida Nogueira and their Manioc Project. The day after arriving I had the great good fortune to attend the 3rd “tapioca cooking contest” (a light, magical cassava “pancake” cooked without oil) held as part of their work with children, especially those from the favelas:


Their project has been so enthusiastically received by the children and the schools that Teresa and Margarida now have a bigger dream: to expand “Projeto Mandioca” to other cities and states in Brazil, beginning with São Paulo. They plan to develop materials to train and equip teams of qualified volunteers to duplicate and replicate the projects on a wide scale. Already they’ve worked in 6 schools and reached at least a thousand children. These dream-makers deserve our support and encouragement. Read (in Portuguese) more about the foundation they have just established, the
Instituto Maniva, to make it possible.

How does this relate to Africa? Teresa and Margarida are acting locally, but they are definitely thinking globally. They want to see the love of and respect for manioc (e.g., cassava) spread everywhere, moving beyond Brazil to Africa. After all, Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of manioc (cassava), and it was Nigerian poet Flora Nwapa who wrote the ode to cassava, Cassava Song and Rice Song. Let’s join them and dream together.



Another joy in Rio was to eat at O Navegador, Teresa’s world class restaurant (with its incredible organic salad bar ,".org") where I enjoyed a highly sophisticated version of a tapioca pancake with black sesame seeds and rock salt (and filled with bobo de camarão, a cassava puree with coconut milk, red palm oil, and shrimp, along with a little cilantro, onions, etc., and garnished with a sauce made of cherry tomato and pimenta biquinho). They also served the best pão de queijo I’ve tasted in Brazil. Now I have all these wonderful cassava recipes I hope to adapt and introduce to Ghana in January!

4 comments:

Barbara said...

Fran,

I'm returning the visit! Great blog and wonderful info. I bet you can't wait to have some "authentic" fufu, mortar and pestle pounded with plantain and cassava, rather than out of a box ;-)

Barb

AfricaLive said...

This is a cool idea for a student contest! Look forward to tasting some manioc pancakes soon. How about cooking competitions in Ghanaian schools?

Fran said...

Barbara: You're right about the fufu (I got so desperate that I tried pounding some here in a miniature mortar and pestle, but it didn't work).

Africalive: I couldn't agree with you more about doing a student contest. The big issue is getting support from community members. Do you have any specific ideas?

Fran

Neide Rigo said...

Fran! The betumi is marvelous blog. I´m right that I'll to learn a lot here. Sorry for my bad English. I have a blog too (come-se.blogspot.com).
Beijos,
Neide (almoçamos juntas no Navegador; quando quiser vir passar uns tempos em São Paulo, minha casa está às ordens)