Féminas 2022 brings together in Asturias cooks and chefs called to change the future

There is an inseparable link between women and the rural world, tradition and cuisine.

Féminas 2022 brings together in Asturias cooks and chefs called to change the future

There is an inseparable link between women and the rural world, tradition and cuisine. An ancient common thread, sometimes misunderstood, that immediately appeals to the domestic and homely. A link that has turned the female role into a vital glue capable of rebuilding societies, of making them prosper through the primary act of feeding. Or, perhaps, as mere survival according to the prism of the latitude with which she looks at herself. And that universal bond shares a future that, as Féminas 2022 has shown in the two sessions it has held to date, is called to change some things. And not only from the home and family, but from a professionalization that does not understand latitudes or cultures, from Europe, but also from Africa or Latin America.

The second edition of the International Congress on Gastronomy, Women and the Rural Environment -organized by Vocento Gastronomy- which will close three vibrant days today in Cangas del Narcea -at the Parador de Corias- and Tineo (Asturias), has brought together cooks, stewardesses, chefs , pastry chefs and producers with a common language. At the core of all of them is assumed, in a natural way, an idea of ​​sustainability - rubbed, sometimes, until it loses meaning - which, as some of the speakers have shown, has more to do with taking care of tradition - or, at least, revisit it- than with inventing strange formulas.

An example of this are the Peruvian spicy dishes that conquered the public with an emotional tribute to their mothers and grandmothers and to what this group of women, belonging to the Picantera Society of Arequipa, defines as "respectful cuisine". For her they have received in this congress the International Prize 'Guardians of Tradition'. Her work, a "lifestyle" in her own terms, makes possible the survival of the picadoras, popular dining rooms in what is known as the "White City," the second most populous in the Andean country.

These businesses, feminine in their primitive soul, evolved from chicherías -in which 'chicha', the traditional fermented corn drink, is made and sold- through mestizo stews, chupes, spicy and pure flavors in which no more technology than a wood-burning fireplace and a stone fulling mill that they inherit from generation to generation.

Mónica Huerta, Beatriz Villanueva and Maruja Ramos de Aguilar -picanteras from La Nueva Palomino, Laurita Cau Cau, and La Maruja, respectively- took to that stage as spokespersons for an ancestral trade to emphasize "pride" and "thank you" to their mothers and grandmothers: “We learned from them. And they are still alive in us through the kitchen. Rosa Macías and Paco Martín also took to this same stage on the opening day to reveal the confessible secrets of Granada's iconic FM bar.

From the matriarchal tradition as well, but in the land that has hosted this congress, this legacy cuisine is represented by Asturian guisanderas such as Mayte Álvarez Arias (Casa Lula, Tineo) and Ángela Pérez (Casa Emburria, Tineo), who shared a talk in the first day with Pepe Ron, from the White Bar in Cangas del Narcea -son of the illustrious stewardess Engracia Linde-. In a conversation with the ABC critic, Carlos Maribona, they outlined the differences in the cuisine of southwestern Asturias and the future of tradition when viewed through the lens of innovation. "Always without forgetting where we are and our environment," they agreed.

The transforming power of gastronomy, linked to women, has an opportunity in rural settings -an idea highlighted, among others, by Benjamín Lana, general director of Vocento Gastronomy-. Something that is reflected in protagonists such as the nomadic cook Fatmata Binta, from the Fulani tribe and settled in Accra (Ghana) with her restaurant, or the Brazilian Manu Buffara, whose presence in Asturias was used by ABC to learn more about her projects .

The congress has also served as a stage to understand the universality of culinary and travel language with protagonists such as the Ecuadorian Carolina Sánchez -from the Michelin star Íkaro, in Logroño-; Carito Lourenço, from Fierro, in Valencia -the first Argentine woman to obtain the Michelin distinction-; or Najat Kanaache -Nur, Fez, Morocco-, who spoke about the past and present of Andalusian cuisine.

The second edition of this gastronomic event has welcomed great Spanish chefs, champions of that professionalization to which Féminas has also appealed, such as Carme Ruscalleda -accompanied by her son, the chef Raül Balam-. “We live in a time when women enter the professional kitchen and men enter the domestic kitchen. In a marathon we cannot compete with men. In a kitchen, yes”, they pointed out together on stage to “break a stigma” about Féminas. Both appealed for a true, natural equality, which is born from the "love of cooking" they share and which has made them embark on a new project: Cuina Sant Pau, which includes the Ruscalleda legacy and which will open its doors on July 1 . "She has been my rector," Raül boasted.

This Wednesday it will be the turn of the three Michelin stars Elena Arzak, Fina Puigdevall and her daughter Martina Puigvert -Les Cols, with two stars in Olot, Gerona- and María Busta -from Casa Eutimio, Asturias- who will talk about the complex equation between the haute cuisine and family conciliation.