How to try masato in Peru
You might have heard of masato – This traditional beverage has a bit of a reputation mostly owing to the fact that making it involves it being chewed and spat out. As gross as it sounds, masato is of great cultural importance in Peru. Check out this article below to learn more and to find out how to try it. Who knows, you might even enjoy it.
What is it?
Masato, also known as chicha, is a traditional fermented beverage of the indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest in Peru. It is made from cassava, a root vegetable that is a staple food in the region. The process of making masato involves extracting the juice from the cassava, fermenting it with saliva, and then serving it in a communal ceremony.
The process of making masato is a social and cultural activity that brings the community together. The women of the community are responsible for preparing the cassava, while the men participate in the fermentation process. The use of saliva in the fermentation process is a unique aspect of the drink, as it is the only known fermented beverage in the world that uses this method. The use of saliva is thought to add beneficial bacteria to the fermentation process, which helps to preserve it and gives it a distinct flavor.
How is it used?
The consumption of masato is a central aspect of indigenous cultural and spiritual practices in the Amazon rainforest. It is often served during important ceremonies, such as weddings, funerals, and community gatherings. The consumption of masato is considered to be a sacred act, and it is believed to bring the community together and strengthen social bonds.
In addition to its cultural and spiritual importance, masato also plays an important role in the economy of the region. The production of masato is a significant source of income for many indigenous communities, and it is also an important source of food security. The cassava used to make masato is a drought-tolerant crop that is well-suited to the harsh conditions of the Amazon rainforest.
Culture under threat
Despite its importance to the indigenous communities of the Amazon rainforest, the production and consumption of masato has been under threat in recent years. The expansion of the logging and oil industries in the region has led to the destruction of large areas of the forest, which has had a negative impact on the availability of cassava and other traditional foods. Additionally, the illegal mining and drug trafficking have also had a negative impact on the region, further threatening the traditional way of life of the indigenous people.
The Peruvian government has recognized the importance of protecting the traditional ways of life and cultural heritage of the indigenous people, including the production and consumption of masato. The government has established protected areas in the region and has been working with the indigenous communities to develop sustainable development projects. These projects aim to promote the conservation of traditional knowledge, including the production of masato, while also providing economic opportunities for the communities.
The next big trend?
In recent years, there has also been an increase in interest in masato among non-indigenous people, both in Peru and internationally. This has led to the creation of new markets, and has the potential to provide new economic opportunities for the indigenous communities. However, it is important to ensure that the traditional knowledge and practices of the indigenous people are respected and preserved, and that the economic benefits of these new markets are shared fairly.
How to try masato
Masato is often given as part of a traditional welcome when you visit an Ashaninka community in the Amazon – It can be considered rude not to drink it so we recommend you give it a try!
If you’re interested in trying masato and leaning more about its cultural significance – Sign up for the upcoming edition of the Amazon Canoe Challenge. We stay with Ashaninka communities along the challenge route and we guarantee that you won’t find a more authentic experience in Peru. There will be plenty of masato to go around!Book now