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In her most recent book, Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking, Traditional and Modern Recipes to Savor and Share, Paula Wolfert, an expert on Mediterranean cuisines shared her expertise and her passion for cultural traditions, and mentioned Chamba, a cookware she was very fond of. Click here for an interview with Paula Wolfert

After interviewing her on Food & Wine Talk WSFG, I immediately set out to find out more about clay cooking in general — I brought back clay pots from Mexico, a couple from Chile and one from Argentina — and while I liked cooking in almost all of them, I found a certain je ne sais quoi about Chamba.

The more I use it the more I love it!  I love the feel of it — it is satiny and smooth which is the result of hand-burnishing with smooth river stones!   It is the skill and the time spent in polishing which distinguishes the finer from the more rustic product. 

It’s practical as well as beautiful  — each time I bring it to the table there are exclamations and “wows”  from everyone.  It is extremely versatile:   I cook stews and bean casseroles in the oven or simmer soups on the stovetop  (use a heat diffuser when using it on an electric range), I reheat foods in the microwave  and, best of all, the food never sticks so  it is easy to clean after use. I just wipe it with a soapy sponge.

No matter what I cooked, whether quinoa, soups, meatballs in tomato sauce or stews, it cooks evenly and stays hot for a very long time, which is something to take into consideration on cold winter days.

 

The gorgeous-looking black clay Chamba cookware is made in Colombia and is widely used in homes and city restaurants.  Its origins can be traced back to the Mayas and the Incas thanks to vases and pitchers found in pre-Columbian archaeological sites.

Each piece is molded into shape by hand in the traditional manner, mostly by women in the village of La Chamba, in the Magdalena River Basin in central Colombia, who make them in several shapes and sizes, actually there is a complete collection of cookware, serveware and tableware—casseroles and roasters, pans and griddles, soup and stock pots, bowls and plates and baking dishes that are as sophisticated as they are practical. There are no toxins used as the pieces are not glazed and there is no lead in the clay.

For additional information and prices you can go to www.mytoque../../index-php/best-buys/.com.css or contact nelson@ChambaImports../../index-php/best-buys/.com.css .   Restaurants can send inquiries to info@MyToque../../index-php/best-buys/.com.css. 604 Main Street Half Moon Bay,  California (650) 726-2898