Guia Cultural do Vale do Café

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The Valley’s Aroma

During the nights in the Vale do Café the stars cannot be counted (there are so many), but the orchestra of frogs, crickets and animals can be heard… – a symphony of silence. The heralding cock awakens the day and nature is sprinkled with dew to welcome the first rays of sunlight. Here starts the work of ants, bees, butterflies, cattle mooing and the sound of pans in the kitchen, wood fires, a kettle and the smell of coffee, which pervades the house and perks people for one more day in the field.

When tasting a cup of coffee, here, there, each gulp recalls a period. Masters, slaves, tradesmen, inhabitants from every corner have come to the region, giving birth to towns at each train whistle. Numerous stories, tales, legends, daydreaming, bonfires, climbing trees, cornhusk cigarettes, “passionate passions”, family, prayers, chanting in church – everyone in their best clothes to receive blessings in Sunday mass. – Lift up your hearts! – Let us give thanks to the Lord.

The Vale do Café takes us back to the past. Many things have changed nowadays, many things have gone, but there remains here the essence of a time that will never die. From great-grandmother to grandmother, to mother, to daughter and to great-granddaughter, thousands of recommendations were made, on recipes for living, for sweets, goodies, flavors prepared with affection by the eyes and with heartbeats. What is a seasoning but a magic formula, the alchemy that adds originality and produces the pleasure of exclaiming: ‘hmmm! Delicious!” Guava preserve made in copper pans, tutu (black bean puree) with sausages, jabuticaba (Plinia cauliflora) jam, cachaça and honey, meringues, doce de leite (caramelized milk) with Minas cheese…
Let’s travel to our countryside. Let’s go to the Vale do Café! To cleanse the big city stress beneath the ice-cold waterfall, spread out the checkered tablecloth for a picnic by the riverside and slowly look at it. It teaches us to get rid of the stones that life places in our way. Let’s go to the Vale do Café! This is a must! Let’s search inside ourselves, for that boy lost in the high-technology adult. Over there, where it’s possible to communicate with the smell of woods, in the rain.

We have selected for this Guide places worth visiting, capable of recovering our hereditary memory; places suggested by people who love this unique and special cultural atmosphere, which is found in this region only. Many venues are no doubt missing from this first edition, but several others are yet to be published.

Tourism is changing the world. Travelers no longer wish to be called tourists, but rather visitors. There are thousands of people connected to the Internet who wish to visit places never before seen in their home environment, to live unforgettable experiences, become acquainted with new cultures and be thrilled, taking back home thoughts to be remembered forever. The Vale do Café provides this scenario of possibilities. The places described in this Guide have this special aroma, not merely an indicator, but an invitation to a love relationship of involvement with history, nature, handicrafts, typical foods, feasts and the arts. Current coffee production may not be that same glory of yesteryear, yet the culture that lies buried alive is definitely sprouting in the development of the Vale do Café’s Creative Economy, which employs thousands of people.

All those people who sponsored, supported and dedicated themselves to this Guide, those who worked on the project, who provided information and interviews, were united by this task, creating a huge energy chain. Each of them with their light, each with a role, cooperated in this collection of offerings for visitors, this rich cultural expression that takes place throughout the year. This overview of the region evidences that the Vale do Café has grown at a rapid pace, encouraged by its entrepreneurs. A road of no return.

Fernando Portella

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