Over the past two years, ACDI/VOCA’s Afro-Colombian and Indigenous Program partnered with renowned Colombian Chef Leonor Espinosa to bring “gastronomic laboratories” to Afro-Colombian, indigenous, Raizal and Palenquera communities in remote areas of the country as a means of recovering traditional recipes, diversifying the family diet, and improving daily nutritional intake.

Fruits of these efforts are two cookbooks, Sabores Ancestrales and Leo el Sabor. The latter is the first book of its kind to be published and distributed on a massive scale. Espinosa has included ancestral and modern Colombian recipes as well as the history of the six ethnic communities that inspired its creation. Here, Espinosa has reinterpreted the use of traditional local products such as fish, mollusks, coco, yam, plantain, and sweet chili, creating a new brand of Colombian haute-cuisine rooted in ethnic traditions.

Some of the country’s leading media outlets and one of the largest publishing houses have picked up on this trend and are raising awareness among a wide Colombian audience while ProColombia, the Colombian tourism and foreign investment firm, has committed to promote the book in foreign markets as part of its strategy to showcase Colombia as an ethnically diverse and progressive country.

Leo el Sabor is more than a cookbook; it’s a book that shows our natural and cultural heritage focused on six ethnic territories. . . . We did this together with ACDI/VOCA and USAID in an effort to revive and promote the culinary traditions of these communities and to preserve food sovereignty,” explains Chef Leonor Espinosa.

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