Season 7, Episode 7

Brazil: The Amazon

The mighty Amazon- called the last great undiscovered culinary frontier by Chef Ferran Adria, it is here that Tony has come to immerse himself in unexplored gastronomical treasures, and search out a legendary and delicious Amazonian creature of the deep. In the Northern Brazilian state of Para, Tony has come to Belem, the capital at the mouth of the Amazon river, to begin his journey. It is here at the Ver-o-Peso market, an "El Dorado" of culinary gold, that he meets up with Felipe, a local food enthusiast, and chef Oliviera de Ofir, an expert on indigenous Amazonian cuisine. After sampling many new fruits (including jambu, a flower Tony likens to cocaine for its numbing effects), Tony is led to the fish market, where he is introduced to the massive filhote catfish. He convinces the fishmonger to slice a sashimi-thin piece from the belly and eats it raw, something unheard of in Brazil. Taking shelter from the onslaught of rain, Tony settles in at the home of Chef Ofir, who has prepared a spread of indigenous Amazonian food. At the heart of the meal is tucupi, a delicious yellow broth made from cassava. The Chef prepares arube, a complex seafood stew cooked in a clay pot, along with filhote cooked in banana leaves, served with toasted cassava and pickled cherry peppers, freshwater crabs and an aphrodisiac fish stew. Channeling Klaus Kinski in the film "Fitzcarraldo," Tony heads down the Amazon with his guide Caito, to meet up with Dr. Urano Carualho, a botanist specializing in Amazonia fauna. Dr. Carualho, with the help of a local, collects the prized acai berry, celebrated worldwide for its health benefits, and shows Tony how it is prepared to be eaten - soaked in water, then mashed into a thick pulp. Unimpressed with its blueberry-esque flavor, Tony returns to Belem for his last meal in civilization: tacaca stew, a popular street food made with cassava, tapioca gum, shrimp, and jambu leaves. Day Four, and the weather is so foul it seems impossible for Tony and his crew to make it safely to Mexiana Island, where an enormous fish is said to lurk. But Producer Tom, undaunted by the weather and determined to make good TV, convinces everyone that they can make it. After a turbulent flight, the puddle jumper lands safely, and Tony and crew are taken to the Marajo Park Reserve. Despite increasing back problems Tony takes a stroll through the jungle, but quickly returns to the hotel as the monkeys around him increase. Tony's second day on the island is fraught with problems: cameraman Zach is sick with a jungle flu, Caito is going crazy, and the back problems are making every second painful. Despite it all Tony is determined to find the pirarucu, a prehistoric delicacy. With the help of local fishermen they set off into the jungle, moving through thick water vegetation until they comes across a net in the water. After laying a second net the group sits and waits for something to happen - ready to give up, an enormous form breaks the water's surface. The fishermen move in and pull up two enormous pirarucu, one of which they take for dinner. Back at the resort, the hotel staff cleans and prepares the pirarucu, grilling it with tomatoes, onions, cilantro and olive oil, served alongside a thick shrimp and peanut stew and the prized pirarucu roe. Observing that the great flavors of the jungle are largely unavailable elsewhere in the world, Tony realizes that this land of plenty is a bastion of culinary inspiration. As Tony takes off in the puddle jumper, he realizes that the magnificence and beauty of Brazil is more overwhelming and powerful in retrospect.
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