Air, Art … and Hunting

September 08, 2019

por Chef Paulo Machado

It was on the theme of trees that the artist Lúcia Barbosa decided to work one of her most expressive artistic phases. It culminated in a nostalgic exhibit at the MARCO (Museum of Contemporary Art of Campo Grande) in 2004. In addition to a performance, where Lucia danced the tango: “una cabeza” next to a large fallen ipe covered with dried casings. ox (each gut dyed with colors that reminded the sky of the Cerrado), the artist exhibited works that clearly showed the influence of nature on the day to day of its creation.
Drawing a parallel between fine arts and gastronomy, I can say that the same phenomenon happens. In the cerrado-pantanal dishes nature speaks louder. The ingredients are there, alive. They are born, grow, and die in the fertile Midwestern land. Both the animal and the vegetable preserve the smell, texture and flavor characteristics of the local terroir.

When prohibitive environmental laws have been in place for over 25 years, they are aimed at protecting our fauna and flora threatened primarily by illegal trafficking in wild animals and plants. Relevant to a time when there was no intense policy for preservation. It turns out that some of these animals are no longer at risk of extinction, on the contrary, they multiply in overpopulations, which end up causing serious problems and risks to people in certain regions of the country. This is the case of some species of alligators, piranhas and even wild pigs that destroy crops and plantations of small producers throughout the country.
Not wanting to encourage hunting, but to think of solutions, I want to note here the gastronomic potential of game animals, which could be kept in balance if properly authorized people could use their meat and leather to increase their income (if of riverside and quilombola populations of the Paraguay River basin, Amazonian and / or rainforest regions), and also increase the tourist issue in the region

I was in South Africa for a few years and found that some countries on the African continent are economically exploiting wild game hunting as long as they are inside a national park and in a situation where animals are slaughtered without the risk of extinction. There is a strong tourist movement there and a movement of the local economy around this activity that generates income and profit for a wide range of people in those areas. This is a situation that could be studied and imported into some regions of our country. In this way we would even discourage poaching, or endangered animals, a way even to remove from illegality people who currently engage in illicit hunting, often even out of ignorance.

I raise the controversy again, for gastronomy hunting is one of the noblest food, and unfortunately in Brazil it is practically impossible to eat game meat because it is illegal action. What we have left is to cook meat from captive-bred game animals (with the proper permits), which end up modifying and losing taste-organoleptic value, and which are treated by the trade as “exotic animals”. Some are even brought in from abroad, but what about the paca meat, capybara, armadillo and even monkey, animals much appreciated by our Indian pre-grandparents and which I still see in my imagination when I read Câmara Cascudo in Food History do Brasil and Food Anthology.
How to preserve indigenous hunting and fishing wisdom for present and future generations? Anyway, this is an extremely current and relevant topic that should be on the agenda of public policies and academic debates in Brazil. After all it is another cultural knowledge that can be extinguished.

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