Once upon a time, in a land far away from here, people would eat food that was produced within walking distance of their home. Suddenly, boom: the modern world took over. Our lives eventually filled up with work obsessions, social media, the latest series on Netflix, and whatever else we do instead of cooking fresh, seasonal food.
But a food revolution is emerging. Mesa de Estación, born out of a passion to eat seasonal, local produce whilst it’s at its best, is here to help. Forget eating tasteless tomatoes or plain plums, eating with the seasons is about taking the juiciest, plumpest, and most flavorful options.
Since Mesa de Estación’s first edition back in August 2016, restaurants and creatively minded, forward-thinking chefs have all been signing up to develop menus using carefully selected seasonal produce.
For a week during each season, (Summer 2018’s runs from 6 – 12 February) Mesa de Estación highlights three key ingredients that are in their prime. A set circuit of 37 restaurants both in Buenos Aires and beyond (currently Mendoza, Rosario, and San Martín de los Andes), develop a three course menu which place these products front and center. What’s on tap this Summer? Eggplant, honey, and mango.
¡Hoy empieza #MESAdeVerano!
Hasta el 12 de #Febrero disfrutá los #deliciosos #menús de #estación con #Berenjena, #Mango y #Miel en #restaurantes de Buenos Aires, San Martín de los Andes, Rosario y Mendoza. pic.twitter.com/695L6zyHIP
— MesaDeEstacion (@MesaDeEstacion) February 6, 2018
An initiative created alongside A.C.E.L.G.A (Argentina’s association for those in the food industry, an acronym that also forms the word ‘acelga’, that’s to say, chard – I see what you did there!), both organizations aim to promote the variety of Argentine cuisine and increase awareness of which Argentine region produces what – mangos from Misiones and Eggplant from Salta, just so you know. Much more sustainable and eco – friendly than flying your food in from miles away, local produce also gives a boost to the regional economy.
A “back to basics” concept that makes a lot of sense, eating seasonally is about simplifying food and cooking, without sacrificing taste or flavor. Being honest, we’re all maybe a bit too inclined toward convenience; we’ve all been there in the supermarket filling our basket with over chilled and out of season veg, which in the end is bland and flavorless. Mesa de Estación wants to put an end to that. Encouraging creativity and experimentation, with only local produce that is in season and at its peak, they work alongside chefs and restaurants to promote the taste and health benefits of eating this way.
So, all right, the theory is not a new one. “I always cook with fresh produce from my local market,” you may say. Sure, it’s not a new breakthrough, but hey, most of us could do with a little encouragement from time to time. If nothing else, it’s an ideal excuse to munch your way through a few new restaurants trying their carefully curated seasonal menus.
Chefs are encouraged to get creative and embrace the experimental with their menus, ranging from chef Vásquez’s white chocolate mango mousse (Tanta), to Morandi’s eggplant caponata (BASA), cooking with what’s only seasonally available is a great way to celebrate the diversity of food. Getting creative can result in a few new discoveries (Mango no. 5 cocktail anyone? No, not Lou Bega, I’m talking about the drink – although they do seem to match pretty well!).
¡Prepará este #cocktail de @TatoGiovannoni con #mango y sorprendé a todos tus invitados! Encontrá todos sus #cocktails en el libro “”Coctelería Argentina”” (Editorial random – megustaleer argentina) ? MANGO Nº5 ? Método: licuado Hielo: roto Vaso: grande de licuado Decoración: canela en polvo, slice de mango con piel 50 ml de vodka 1/2 banana 1/2 mango 1 1/4 cucharada tamaño postre de azúcar 1 cucharada al ras tamaño café de canela en polvo En una licuadora colocar el #vodka, el mango, la banana y el azúcar. Tapa y comenzar a licuar, cuando los sólidos estén casi líquidos agregar el hielo y licuar otra vez. Con la licuadora en marcha incorporar la canela en polvo, llevar el líquido a una consistencia cremosa de licuado. Servir y decorar con canela en polvo y slice de mango.
For all you foodie nerds who want to get into the nitty-gritty of why and how each produce was selected for the season, their website is here to educate without getting preachy. Informing us on where the produce originates from, how it’s cultivated and its popularity, it’s an engaging way of knowing your potatoes from your tomatoes.
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With a wide array of activities, food festivals, and other tasty events, check out Mesa de Estacion’s Facebook page. Having started yesterday (February 6th) and running until the 12th, give the participating restaurants a look, you may just make an incredible flavor discovery!