CULINARIUM

Gastronautas: El ají de gallina de mis sueños

Miga de pan remojada en leche y pasta de ají amarillo. Una pechuga de pollo hirviendo en agua con sal, luego deshilachada en tiras que serán delgadas o gruesas dependiendo de quién esté a cargo de la cocina. El ají de gallina se sirve como entrada en algunas casas, en otras llega después, como plato de fondo. En mi familia ocupa cualquiera de las dos situaciones, y la receta varía tanto como la personalidad de cada cocinero.

De niño no me gustaba el ají de gallina, y en mi casa era raro verlo. Posiblemente una cebolla entera, poco cocida, y el palillo insoportable que lo tintaba de falso amarillo, provocó en mi ese disgusto que me acompañó por mucho tiempo cada vez que me encontraba frente a el. Excepto, dónde mi tía Teresa. Esas raras veces en que visitaba a mi familia paterna. Su ají de gallina me gustaba, ella lo servía como entrada, con papas amarillas y la mitad de un huevo duro. Le echaba palillo, reconocía el sabor en la salsa, pero no era insoportable, pues el ají amarillo estaba presente, con su toque justo de leche y caldo. Las hilachas de pollo eran jugosas y se resbalaban, no eran esos mazacotes que había probado y odiado. Me gustaba sobre todo comerlo cuando lo ponían en tartaletas, y ahí si nadie podía conmigo y mi voraz apetito.

Pero quien me hizo amar el plato fue mi tía Lucy. Ella preparaba el ají de gallina siguiendo una receta que le había dado una vieja cocinera limeña, y que repetía magistralmente. Le ponía nueces picadas justo al final de la cocción, fuera del fuego, y ya emplatado, le rayaba encima queso parmesano. Ella era una mujer que gustaba de satisfacer a todos, así que las guarniciones: papas sancochadas, arroz blanco, aceitunas, huevos en rodajas y más queso y nueces, las ponía al centro. Cada quien en la mesa podía servirse a su gusto, y no faltaba quien repetía todas las veces posibles. Yo me incluyo.

Mi mamá ha continuado esa receta, y aunque rica, no es parecida. Me resulta difícil tener que decirle a mi madre, quien cocina delicioso, que su ají de gallina no es especial. Lo prepara bien, pero no le sale perfecto. Está rico, pero no quedará como fotograma inolvidable. Y no sé por qué ocurre eso, pues sigue al pie de la letra la misma receta, la cual yo también sigo cuando me toca cocinar. Y aún así no nos sale. El secreto del ají de gallina se lo llevó mi tía Lucy a la tumba, y cuando pensaba que las tartaletas de mi tía Teresa podían bastarme, ella también se fue y la receta, repetida por la mayor de sus hijas, no se acerca a la de ella por nada del mundo.

Huérfano del sabor del ají de gallina, visité una tienda de empanadas y pedí una de ají de gallina. La masa frita, la miga y el ají amarillo adentro, bailando con el pollo me hizo sentir como Anton Ego en Ratatouille, retrocediendo justo en ese sabor inolvidable que vuelve todo delicioso. Le he vuelto a dar una chance al ají de gallina, a esa miga española y ese ají nativo que se fundieron para siempre.


Fuente de imagen: mujerypunto.com

Rodrigo Saldarriaga
Comunicador, historiador amateur y aficionado a la gastronomía. Estudió periodismo, cosió vestuarios y organizó eventos. Desde hace un año, se encuentra inmerso en su tesis.
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