Friday, May 03, 2013

One More on the Ayahuasca Dieta, then I'll Shut Up

I posted my previous post on a board I occasionally visit, and someone came back with the question of: If what I said about ayahuasca dietas being a recent invention by gringos, then how come everyone who offers ayahuasca also offers the dieta. This was my response:

I think that both the indigenous and non-indigenous in the Peruvian Amazon have traditionally lived primarily on a diet of fish and platanos--with some exceptions, like the Matses and some other groups who primarily ate meat, rather than fish. So I think if a Westerner found a curandero and had not brought his/her own food supply, that they'd soon find themselves eating fish and platano most meals. I just think that's one of the basic jungle diets. I think--and it's only me thinking here--that food restrictions come when new foods are introduced: if a person lived in an area where there were no hot peppers, for instance, but then went to a town where there was a jar of hot peppers in in lime or sidra on the table and then ate a spoonful, well, the shock of the heat and the burning of their mouth might make that person immediately swear off peppers and have them telling their friends and family not to eat them either. With something like pork, well, if it's not prepared well you can get awfully sick from it--and with no refrigeration it's easy to get sick on pig in the jungle. So I think that's another that's pretty naturally proscribed in traditional settings where ayahuasca was served.
   I think the answer to your question though, really lies more in the boom of ayahuasca drinking that's gone on over the last 10-12 years in Peru. When Francisco Montes opened Sachamama in about 1993--the first real ayahuasca center, I believe--he never talked--to me at least--about dieta. Out at his place we'd eat fruit and fish; when he came to Iquitos he'd eat ceviche with me or have a soda with lots of sugar. But by about 2003 or 2004, he'd built several tambos on his place specifically for dietaros--people on the ayahuasca diet--and was serving a pretty strict routine of boiled fish and platanos or rice. Some of those people who spent time with Francisco went on to open their own retreats, and they used the dieta as well. Then someone like Gerald at the Yellow Rose, for a joke, put up a sign that said he served The Ayahuasca Diet: No salt, no oil, no suger, no SEX! Well, at first it was a joke, but when people started ordering it, he started to make it, which made other restaurants follow suit--so that now all of the restaurants that serve gringos provide the ayahuasca diet. (As a side and snide comment I will add that I've talked with some of the retreat owners who relish the fact that by serving just cucumbers, fruit and some boiled fish and plantains they save a boatload of money.)
    So I think the dieta just sort of caught on, and that it's become a badge of courage for a lot of people. When I'm in Iquitos and people stop to talk with me, an awful lot of them tell me how many times they have had ayahuasca and how many weeks they've lived the dieta. And that's fine for them--just not something that came up in the old days when I started drinking ayahuasca.
    When it comes to my guests, I offer a lot of really good food. Lots of veggies, lots of fruit, beans daily, yucca, plantain, rice, and just a bit of chicken and fish. Like Moises, I don't want them heavy with sugar, I don't want them to have sour stomachs--though I do use tomatoes, but cooked or in lime juice--don't serve pork or red meat (no way to keep it fresh) and forbid my team from killing monkeys or birds to eat. I like them to have plenty of energy, but like it to be clean--so in my own way I sort of impose a diet on them, though they hardly think it is one when they're eating. On ceremony day though, one meal at breakfast and then nothing else till after ceremony--when they drink I want them puking up the bile of their lives, not hard-boiled eggs.


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

The guy that gave me the Ayahuasca “Orlando a.k.a The Dragon”, an indigenous native of the Quechua people, has a reputation of being one of the most intense Shaman Ayahuasca so I kind of doubt it wasn’t powerful enough.

Adam Revere said...

Great post on Ayahuasca. Yes people on Jungle eat mostly fish and vegetables. Diet is important in preparation of taking ayahuasca. Ayahuasca must not be taken along with certain food and drugs. If you need more information on Ayuasca diet, check this site

Unknown said...

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