LUGARES MAGAZINE Nro. 66
Page. 68 - 71
By: Rossana Acquasanta
EL MANANTIAL DEL SILENCIO
The Lemos family already had their first "Manantial", a few kilometres from Salta. The Patron Costas family, one of the most elegant hotels in the city, El Solar de la Plaza, facing the Plaza Güemes. But Alice Lemos and Mercedes Patrón Costas had a soft spot for the seven colours of the hills in Purmamarca. There, in this corner of Jujuy Province where the land was still a wilderness, they began to create a place with style, decorated with antique tapestries, with huge windows, sofas buried under cushions, beautiful shower rooms and, above all, gourmet Andean cuisine a million miles from the typical humitas and tamales.
The creator of this original menu, which includes medallions of llama, broad bean ravioli and guinoa humitas amongst other unheard of ingredients, is Sergio Latorre, a 39-year-old porteño married to a local girl from Abra Pampa. When his daughter was of age to begin to eat anchi, a local dish of semolina with cinnamon and cloves, Sergio began to think of ways to turn "something so horrid into something tasty that my daughter would actually enjoy". His mother-in-law also needed some convincing, at first she watched him experiment, then when she reluctantly tasted his version of llajwa -a very spicy tomato and garlic based sauce-but with his personal touch of balsamic vinegar and orange juice, she loved it! Sergio also did some research in the Jujuy marketplace. Not always successfully, as his sources were the taciturn cholas (native market women).
"And how do you prepare this?"
"You cook it."
"You boil it."
How much, how long and why he had to find out for himself. His main concern over the last few years has been to learn about the local Andean cuisine, improving the traditional cooking techniques, and
most of all to find out how they can make forty different dishes with the same few ingredients. His menu is now famous throughout the Quebrada, as is El Manantial, which enjoys its own excellent reputation.