A savvy entrepreneur in Guatemala takes advantage of an active volcano to launch a new food craze.
David Garcia has been cooking pizzas on oozing lava from the Pacaya volcano, which started to erupt again in February, for several weeks.
He wears protective clothing and bakes pizza on special metal sheets that can withstand temperatures up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit.
Tourists flock to the mountain to have a share and post photos on social media.
Pacaya is one of the Central American nation’s three active volcanoes, and its eruptions can be seen from the capital, Guatemala City, about 15 miles away.
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Accountant David Garcia bakes pizza over oozing lava from the Pacaya volcano, which started to erupt again in February. It uses special metal trays that can withstand heat up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit
Pacaya first “woke up” about 23,000 years ago and has erupted at least two dozen times since the Spanish conquered Guatemala in the 16th century.
After decades of dormancy, it has broken out frequently since the early 1960s.
According to a May 12 update from the National Institute of Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology, it is spitting “small to medium” ash, although this does not yet threaten populated areas.
“The eruptive fissure vent on the northwest flank produces lava fountains, about 50-100 meters away [164-328 feet] large, which feed the advancing lava flows, ”reads the update.
Garcia (pictured) started baking pizzas in small caves on the mountainside in 2013. “I put it in a warm cave around 800 degrees. [1400 degrees Fahrenheit] and it came out in 14 minutes’
According to a May 12 update from Guatemala’s National Institute of Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology, Pacaya is now spitting “small to medium” ash, although this does not threaten any inhabited area.
“The flow fronts have reached more than 2300 meters [7,545 feet] distance and approach slowly towards the farmlands of La Breña to the west.
Garcia, an accountant, started making pizza in 2013 in small caves on the mountainside.
‘I put it in a warm cave about 800 degrees [1400 degrees Fahrenheit] and he was out in 14 minutes, ”he told AFP. “When I tasted the flavor of pizza baked with volcanic heat, I said, ‘that’s a good idea.’ ‘
When Pacaya started heating up in recent weeks, he moved his makeshift operation to a rocky area near the crater and began cooking on the lava itself.
Pacaya is one of Guatemala’s three active volcanoes and its eruptions can be seen from Guatemala City, approximately 24 km away.
Garcia must make sure the temperature does not rise too high and burn the mussels and the dough. And if he places the sheet directly on a stream of lava, “I have to make sure the pizza doesn’t wander away”
It’s certainly not as precise as an oven – Garcia has to make sure the temperature doesn’t rise too high and burn the mussels and dough.
And if he places the sheet directly on a lava flow, “I have to make sure the pizza doesn’t wander away.”
Lava can reach temperatures of 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit, he added, “So I have to watch the wind direction so that it doesn’t affect me. “
It’s a risky business, but his “Pacaya pizzas,” with tomato sauce, cheese, onions and pepperoni, have been a hit with hungry tourists after climbing the mountain.
Garcia wears head-to-toe protective gear while working in his “pizzaria”. With the lava reaching temperatures of 3600 degrees Fahrenheit, he monitors the direction of the wind “so it doesn’t affect me.”
Pacaya’s frequent but non-threatening eruptions have made it popular with tourists. Pictured: Visitors enjoy Garcia’s ‘Pizza Pacaya’
“Having a pizza baked in the embers of a volcano is breathtaking and unique in the world,” visitor Felipe Aldana told AFP.
While Garcia’s approach is unique, he’s not the only chef to use lava instead of an oven: in 2014, London entrepreneurs Sam Bompas and Harry Parr seared steaks on hot puddle.
The couple, who run a company that creates “immersive flavor-based experiences,” hired an expert to build an oven that can reach 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit and melt rocks into molten lava.
Bompas said he got the inspiration for the fire feat while visiting an active volcano in Japan.
“I wrapped some mallows and slipped over the barriers of the lava flows and roasted my mallows for s’mores,” he told ABC News. ‘When I did that, I thought,’ This is crazy. This is how cooking should be done, and wouldn’t it be great if you could bring it to more people?
Bompas and Parr placed a steak on the lava and were able to cook it in seconds, with a “dense and thick charcoal on the outside”,
“With all this build-up, I can honestly say it was the best steak I’ve eaten in my life,” Bompas said. “It was an intense sensation of sirloin flavor.