By Santiago Carbone
Aguas Dulces, Uruguay, Apr 15 (EFE).- Exotic fruits such as strawberry guava, jelly palm, or pineapple guava are part of the natural riches of this town on Uruguay’s Atlantic coast where a Portuguese ship loaded with gold coins sank in 1875.
The fate of the coins that were being transported from Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo aboard the Arinos remains a mystery all these years later.
They were stolen, or buried “at the feet of a twin palm,” to cite an account from local author Juan Pablo Font, or ended up at the bottom of Briozzo Lagoon.
Residents of Aguas Dulces say that people with patience and a keen eye can find coins on the beach, from where a portion of the wreckage of the Arinos remains visible.
While the gold may be long gone, the edible treasures remain.
The bittersweet anaranjado butia (jelly palm) is one of the stars of Native Fruit Week 2022, served as an accompaniment to leg of lamb or fish, in a desert, or made into a beverage.
“The native fruits provide the gastronomic identity of this place,” chef Laura Rosano tells Efe, adding that when she gives talks at schools, she explains to the children that those fruits constitute a tangible link to the indigenous Charrua people.
“That’s why it’s so important to continue cultivating them and make them known to tourists and to Uruguayans,” she says.
“Uruguay is a tourist country. Many people come from everywhere to get to know the territory and food also shows us part of the territory: what is produced, what is born spontaneously, what fish are caught. It’s very important that restaurants have the commitment to seek out that product and feature it,” Rosano says.
One restaurateur receptive to that message is Italian immigrant Flavio Santarelli, owner of the Ciao Mamma eatery in Aguas Dulces.
“The native fruits are a very beautiful thing, because you walk by and you eat fruit from the trees,” he says, adding that the local delicacies go well with pasta. EFE scr/dr