Today we get to know Sol Semilla a bit better. I had lunch at Sol Semilla early this week with my dear friend Michelle and when I met Joelma Leitao, to me the heart and soul of Sol Semilla, I couldn’t help interviewing her! Joelma is a charismatic, inspiring woman, passionate about her work and the fantastic super foods she so much loves. She is also a very special cook. Here she answers to my questions.
Chiara: Why gluten free?
Joelma: Because in the last years wheat has been modified too much – it is not bad in itself – but what has been done with it is not good, especially with the white flour, it has lost all of its nutritional benefits. I also happen to have a delicate intestine so I don’t digest wheat that easily. Besides where I come from, from the Nord-East of the Amazonia, we are not used to eat it. I grew up eating berries like açai, acerola, raw cocoa. My mother, like all the women in my family, had a deep knowledge of the earth, its fruit and plants. It is like a ritual: in the morning we go pick them up in the forest and then we bring them back to the village and we cook them and share with everybody. This is our way to show gratitude to the earth that provided us with these precious foods. To me a super food is a tomato that has grown in its own environment, respecting the earth, the season and when you pick it up, it’s packed with precious nutrients and gives you good energy. That’s what super foods are about, energy, and this is why I use them when I cook. I think that it is important to vary what with eat as much as we can.
Chiara: What is Sol Semilla?
Joelma: It’s about a group of people that have in common the passion to support and spread a healthier way of eating, food that is alive, and also ethic. Jean François Hämmerle, the founder, was the first to import super foods in France from South America. At Sol Semilla we know all about our producers; we are always in search of the best foods and we work with them closely. I know for example who supplies us the açai and when I go to Brazil I go to visit him. When people tell me if this is about dietary supplements, I say no, it is about food, super foods are actually foods in their own right.
At Sol Semilla we believe that everybody can have this consciousness about food and eat as healthy as possible. I am in charge of the restaurant. I define my way of cooking “intuitive”: I am inspired by the food I have in front of me and I go from there. I try to eat organic and respect the seasonality of each ingredient. Cooking to me is about being connected to the food, look for harmony in a recipe. Food is about pure energy. I am also in charge of the atelier where I teach about super foods. I chose not to have too many people because I care about establishing a one-to-one relationship and talk to everybody.
With my husband I created an association called Time is Art. Time is Art is an expression from the Maya – to me the greatest astrologists of all time – it means a day out of time and it is celebrated once a year. When we celebrate it we stop doing all other activities or work and we dedicate to the art of creating, exchanging, communicating with other people. I am used to invite naturopaths, artists, musicians and we all share common passions, interests, and enjoy being together.
The word Sol Semilla is a play on word: it evokes the soil, the earth, the seeds, the grains. It’s about what grows and what is alive.
Chiara: What is the gluten free food that you love the most?
Joelma: I love açai that is the fruit of a palm tree. I enjoy eating it with lucuma that comes from Perù. Lucuma is sweeter. Their flavours remind me of the Amazonian forest where I grew up. It reminds me of flowers, energy.
Chiara: Gluten free is…
Joelma: Vegetarian and vegan.
To read my older posts on Sol Semilla: