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Cooking with our ancestors

Discussing indigenous cuisine is akin to delving into the history of our ancestors—those who inhabited the expansive landscapes of our country and adapted to the environment they encountered.

It is evident that many of the changes we have undergone as a species throughout evolution have been intertwined with transformations in our food practices. The incorporation of fire, advancements in hunting techniques, and the domestication of animals are just a few examples of these changes.

As a result, the knowledge of indigenous and migrant communities (Spanish, English, Croatian, Swiss, German, and Chilean) has progressively intertwined, to the point where it now feels like our own heritage.

However, if we focus solely on our indigenous communities and conduct a comprehensive review, as described by anthropologists such as Anne Chapman or through books like "Los nomades del mar" (The Sea Nomads) by archaeologist Joseph Empraire, what do we discover? First and foremost, we gain insight into the ways indigenous peoples used to nourish themselves. Here is a brief glimpse into their diverse culinary practices.

The Selknam men hunted foxes and guanacos, while the women focused on capturing rodents. Most of their meat was roasted, and they also made sausages using intestines filled with blood and fat.

On the other hand, the Kawésqar relied on stranded whales, seals, and seabirds for sustenance. Fish and shellfish constituted a significant portion of their diet. Women were responsible for diving into the frigid waters of our fjords and channels to gather these resources. The land also provided them with mushrooms and wild fruits.

As for the Yagán people, their sustenance came from the depths of the sea. They traversed the channels in search of sea lions, whales, and otters. Yámana women courageously dived into the chilly waters to harvest mussels, sea urchin, and king crab. They also consumed eggs, mushrooms, and local fruits such as the Calafate berry.

Thus, we can assert that the gastronomy of our ancestors still permeates our modern diet, in one form or another. However, the key lies not only in preserving this heritage through recipe books or catalogs, but more importantly, in actively embracing it as part of our daily lives.

Meals, after all, are not meant to be mere words; they should be enjoyed like the vibrant light of the sun.

Bibliography:

"Cocinas, alimentos y símbolos. Estado del arte del patrimonio culinario en Chile" (2017) - Kitchens, Food, and Symbols: State of the Art of Culinary Heritage in Chile.

"Cocinas mestizas de Chile. La olla deleitosa" by Sonia Montecino Aguirre (2004) - Mestizo Kitchens of Chile: The Delightful Pot.

"La cocina indígena en la Patagonia continental" by Luciano Prates, Marcelo Vitores, and Pierro Bucci (2016) - Indigenous Cuisine in Continental Patagonia.

"Estudio sobre el Campo Gastronómico chileno para el mejoramiento de la acción pública en Gastronomía del Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes y la Línea de Gastronomía y arte culinario del concurso FONDART" (2017) - Study on the Chilean Gastronomic Field for the Improvement of Public Action in Gastronomy by the National Council of Culture and the Arts and the Gastronomy and Culinary Art Line of the FONDART Contest.

"Historia y cultura de la alimentación en Chile. Miradas y saberes sobre nuestra culinaria" (2010) - History and Culture of Food in Chile: Perspectives and Knowledge on Our Cuisine.

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