A Quick Primer On Yapura, Colombia’s Pungent "Jungle Butter"

The Japura river
The Japura river
Rodrigo Bernal

BOGOTA â€" During the difficult months of the rainy season, when daily downpours put a damper on hunting and fishing, the Tatuyo indigenous people of Vaupés, in Colombia's Amazonian region, spend entire days in the jungle collecting fruit. The purpose of the forest harvest? To make yapurá.

A black paste with a pungent odor that rivals the smelliest of French cheeses, yapurá is a prized seasonal delicacy. It is also one of the stranger foods to be found in this part of the world.

The paste is obtained from the Erismus japura, a thick, 30-meter tall tree found in the Colombian departments of Guainía, Vaupés and Amazonas. The tree shares its name with the Japurá river, a major Amazon tributary that begins in Colombia (where it is known as the Caquetá) and flows deep into Brazil.

To prepare the paste, the Tatuyo people first cook the fruit and extract its oily seeds, which are then soaked (sometimes for days), cooked again, and finally crushed to make a fine blackish porridge. As the food is seasonal, the Tatuyo preserve the purée in a perfectly sealed hole in the ground â€" an underground pantry â€" near the fire, which keeps it from insects. It is served intermittently in the months before the next harvest season.

As the hole is not entirely air tight, the paste very slowly matures in the manner of a cheese, which enriches its flavor and creates the potent smell. It can be eaten alone or with such as the local fish broth. For those who can handle the smell, it's a true delicacy. But it's also as unknown to most people as it is difficult to come by â€" except, of course, for anyone willing to venture into Vaupés.

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"The Truest Hypocrisy" - The Russia-NATO Clash Seen From Moscow

Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.

NATO chief Stoltenberg and Russian Foregin Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via ZUMA
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative.

These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."

In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."

The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.

Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.

NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.

The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."

Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."

The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.

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