Si, Me Importa un Bledo
A culinary exploration of every part of the amaranth plant by Guatemala's Debora Fadul.
Guatemala is an amaranth strongholds, though it has not happened without effort. As I mentioned last week, long after the Spanish tried to eradicate the plant during Conquest, Maya K’iche people buried jars of amaranth seeds during the 1960-1996 civil war as state forces targeted their way of life. It’s because of them and courageous people like them, the plant is still around for us today to wax poetic about.
In Guatemala, amaranth is often given the name bledo, especially when referring to the leaves or the plant as a whole. There are dozens of recipes to be found, especially in the departments of Alta Verapaz and Baja Verapaz in the north central area of the country where it is both cultivated and gathered from the wild. The leaves are formed into cakes and fried. The seeds are mixed with honey and formed into bars for school snacks. It’s used in stews, porridge, salads and tamales.
One of the most common recipes, one found throughout the country, is Sopa de Bledo, a soulful soup made with amaranth leaves and often other vegetables like chayote and potatoes. Below, Debora Fadul, the chef of Diacá in Guatemala City, shows how versatile the amaranth plant can be in a re-imagining of Sopa de Bledo. She utilizes every part of the plant: seeds, leaves, roots and flowers. She pops the seeds and grinds them into flour. She blends the leaves in the pastes and broths. She fries the flowers and uses the roots to flavor a broth. It’s not meant to be a replacement for sopa de bledo, and few will likely make the entire recipe at home, but it’s an encouragement to keep exploring the possibilities of this miraculous plant.
– Nicholas Gill
Si, Me Importa un Bledo ( Yes, I Give a Damn )
By Debora Fadul
The earth is not static. Neither are we. Listen to it, feel every second with patience. Listening, being an apprentice and understanding the example of work that makes the transparency and reality it gives us daily. Each step is firm, with guidance and gravity, it is a special process, thorough and full of continuous beginnings, precise, with a story for everyone.
An ingredient has the power to transform people and minds in every bite. It can lead us to connect, to remember that we are all here to understand each other and feel places in our lives. It is the ingredients that allow us to expose the rich land in which we live, the quality of its producers and the flavor that the soils of Guatemala bring to each one. We cooks are communication channels for these messages. It is wanting to constantly understand that this is everyone, that the connection is constant, that our actions will have an effect in one way or another on everything and everyone.
We create cuisine where each person can reconnect with themselves. With the land, with memories and almost being able to connect with the people they love. I believe in sparking inner conversations through cooking and our connection to the land.