The Taste of Licurì

Do you want to know about a flavor that lingers in the emotional memory of anyone who spent their childhood in rural Bahia? I’m talking about licurì, the famous “coquinho,” as we call it.

If there was one thing that made me happy when I was little, it was arriving at the Saturday market, riding on my father’s shoulders, and seeing those enormous clusters of licurì hung in garlands on a good deal of the stalls. Wow, there were so many! What abundance!

My father knew well that the first thing he had to do was buy me a garland, because as well as filling me up and making me happy, I would be distracted as I munched on one coquinho after another from the garland hung around my neck, like someone praying with a rosary.

Time passed, and, while it risked extinction, licurì also made history. Things evolved, the possibilities grew and it began to be transformed into other products. A delicate oil and a delicious milk are extracted from the kernel; the milk compares very favorably to coconut milk and makes an excellent replacement in muqueca (fish stew). There is also a sinful condensed version of the milk. And what can I say of the union with the honey produced by the same bee that pollinates the tree, which produces an exquisite cream used to fill beijus (manioc pancakes)? And all the other pairings! With tapioca, umbu fruit, corn, rapadura (unrefined cane sugar). And all the other products! Granola, paçoca (licuri and manioc flour), liqueur, ice cream. And that’s not all. The licurì has attracted the attention of famed chefs who are using the fruit in sophisticated creations, raising its profile in cosmopolitan circles.

Behind this story are the women of the Bahian regions, of Piemonte da Diamantina or Bacia do Jacuípe. Generations of women dedicated to the harvest and crushing of licurì, a local tradition as well as a source of income. Women who have come up with preparation techniques and recipes for licurì that are now shared by everyone.

Comida com Gosto de LicuriIt is with great pride and immense joy that Slow Food, in collaboration with IFAD, presents Comida com Gosto de Licuri, a small but significant book of the recipes these women prepare for regional licurì festivals.

Their style of language and vocabulary—rich, beautiful and very characteristic—have been carefully maintained, producing an emotional lexicon that will touch your heart and lead you, together with these women, right to where these coquinho are harvested and broken by hand, to the sound of those traditional songs that mark the work.

A Slow Food Presidium has been created for licurì, which has contributed to intensifying the activities relating to environmental education and the protection and revival of regional traditions, as well as the promotion of products based on this exquisite fruit

But each one of us can make our own contribution, promoting agrobiodiversity and making responsible choices that can support family farming, giving more strength to small-scale producers and protecting traditional cultures.

by Kátia Najara, chef and blogger, Salvador, Bahia

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