Congreso Internacional de mujeres gastronomía y medio rural


Ana Vega: “Traditional cooking is like a stalactite. You don't even notice it taking shape”


Bilbao journalist, documentalist and researcher Ana Vega explains developments in traditional cookery and how it has been configured by women.

“If it hadn't been men, but women that discovered America - we talk more to each other - along with maize to solve poverty we'd also have brought along the nixtamalisation technique (a maize cooking process avoiding the illnesses that plagued Europe for years), and we'd have prevented many more deaths”. General applause. This was the finale to journalist Ana Vega's talk on Tuesday at FéminAs on the subject of traditional cooking.

Illustrated with photographs of kitchens in Asturias over the centuries, the talk by the journalist, who is also a researcher and digs up forgotten recipes, provided an overview of Asturias' "lares" (the word and the concept also exist, among other regions, in León and Catalonia"), "meaning the hearth, where cooking was traditionally done and experienced, since for many years it was the only part of the house that had warmth and light”. Vega went on to talk about trivets or low-heat cooking, words that "have now fallen into disuse, but were very common for years and centuries in all kitchens”.

After she had given her talk its context, the winner of the 2018 National Gastronomy Prize for Best Work by a Journalist focused on drawing up the concept of traditional gastronomy: “Through repetition again and again, over the years women unintentionally created traditional cuisine. Recipes were reproduced by dint of oral transmission and practice". Vega drew a comparison: “It's like a stalactite. You can't see it taking shape, but it does, little by little. Like traditional cuisine”. A concept that is being created, but it can be changed. “The arrival of new ingredients also eventually changed it”, she added, referring to the emergence of the potato, for example. Or macaroni: “This wasn't normal fare for my mother. I've eaten macaroni every Friday at home, and so for me that's traditional cooking”.