The Fibega fair, to the conquest of gastronomic tourists in Miami

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Attendees at the Fibega fair attend a gastronomic demonstration this Friday at the Convention Center in Miami Beach, Florida. EFE

Fibega, a fair dedicated to gastronomic tourism that in past editions was held in Spain and Argentina, is presented for the first time to Americans, the citizens of the world who spend more on eating and drinking when they travel.

Paella from Valencia and Pata Negra ham from Spain, mezcal from Tamaulipas (Mexico), quinoa croquettes from Peru, coffee from Guatemala, chipás from Paraguay, caipirinha from Brazil, stews with fish and seafood from Ecuador and Malbec wine and Humita from Mendoza (Argentina ).

Those were some of the many delights that could be tasted this Thursday at the opening of Fibega at the Miami Beach Convention Center, where the stoves were fuming and the cooks in each pavilion were busy digging new dishes.

The Spanish Roi Correa, president of Fibega Miami, told Efe that the fair is here to stay, since it has the support of the Miami-Dade County authorities and the Miami Beach City Hall, and they are already preparing the one that will be held. place in May 2020.

One of the reasons why Miami has been chosen for Fibega, which started in Mérida (Spain) in 2016 and continued in Buenos Aires in 2017, is the fact of being a connectivity and logistics center with important ties with Latin America. and Europe.

The other is that “the United States is the world’s largest tourist issuer” and the possibility of pleasing the palate is the first motivation for American travelers, said Correa.

Only the spending on food and beverages that Americans do when they travel justifies a fair like this: about 58,000 million dollars in 2017, according to a recent study by Skift Research.

The first edition of Fibega in Miami has a strong Latin American and Spanish component, although the guest of honor is Macao, a small territory in southeastern China that was a Portuguese colony and has 12 restaurants with Michelin stars and 19 recommended street food stalls for the guide of the same name.

Like Macao, Guatemala has decided to promote itself as a gastronomic tourist destination in Miami under the umbrella of Fibega.

The general director of Tourism of Guatemala, Jorge Mario Chajón, acknowledged to Efe that Guatemalan cuisine is little known beyond its borders, although he stressed that the country has “a unique gastronomic richness”.

“Guatemala is one of the 19 countries considered megadiverse in the world,” said Chajón, who announced that they expect to present a national gastronomy strategy in November with the goal of conquering many more tourists.

If Paraguayan cuisine is not known in the world, it is “for lack of promotion,” chef Sofia Pfannel tells Efe while preparing a “beyú”, a typical Paraguayan dish based on cassava flour, cheese, pork fat and a little milk

The teacher and cook Graciela Martínez, a student of the Paraguayan “ethnococina”, is present in the Paraguay pavilion in Fibega with “Poytáva”, a book of bilingual recipes in Spanish and Guaraní fruit of 35 years of research.

Martinez says that Paraguay can not be compared with other Latin American countries with a diversity of climates that gives them a great wealth of products. Its great assets are corn and yucca.

In the pavilion of Peru, the country of South America number one in gastronomic tourism, Arlette Eulert, who has her restaurant, “Matria”, in Lima and was awarded the Summum prize for the best chef in her country, shares the spotlight with Fabricio, a Peruvian with three restaurants in Miami, during the opening day of Fibega.

Peruvian “superfoods” such as quinoa, yacon and kiwicha, sustainable cooking and social development are three aspects that Peru wants to highlight in Fibega.

Cristina Mengarelli, director of tourism development in the Argentine province of Mendoza, says that the biggest attractions of Mendoza are “wine and mountain” and people from all over the world come to this area of ​​the Argentine Andes.

As “the food always comes from the wine”, in Fibega you can not only taste an “emblematic and characteristic” Mendocinean Malbec, but “humita”, a corn stew, and a popular “choripán”.

In the pavilion of the Spanish region of Valencia, the paella is not missing, but there are other attractions such as the “water” that bears his name, a cocktail made mainly with champagne and orange juice.

The chef Nacho Romero, with the restaurant “Kaymus” and two other gastronomic venues in Valencia, points out that “a la paella is like pizza”.

They are dishes that no longer identify with the cities where they have their cradle, Valencia and Naples, but with Spain and Italy, respectively, and so international that they are prepared in very different ways and with ingredients that sometimes have little to do with the original , but that does not mean that they are “prostituted”.

“Cooking is freedom,” stresses Romero.

Roi Correa, the president of Fibega, points out that the best memories of travel have to do with food.

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