Colombia’s gastronomy awards honor innovation and tradition

An exotic salad and a traditional Colombian meat dish each scooped first place in the categories of innovation and tradition at Colombia’s national gastronomy awards.

The two dishes were selected out of six finalists by a jury comprising of a professional chef, a businessman, a biologist and a palentologist at the awards ceremony held in Bogota’s DC Andres restaurant.

In the innovation category, first prize was awarded to Miguel Angel Abadia for his green papaya salad with clams, wild cilantro and crispy cassava. The idea for the dish originated from an eighteenth century essay, which made reference to the salad tasted by the Spanish missionary Juan de Santa Gertrudis in 1756 when he first stepped on terra firma in Tumaco, a town on Colombia’s pacific coast.

Finding no further mention of the salad, Abadia launched a five year investigation, consulting archives and oral traditions from the region. He enlisted the expertise of female clam collectors in Tumaco, collected each of the moluscs himself and cultivated all the remaining ingredients in his garden.

The judges said that aside from the dish’s extraordinary inception, the prize was awarded for innovative methods of preparation and culinary technique.

In the reproduction category, which honors traditional Colombian recipes, first prize was awarded to a traditional smoked meat dish from the regions around Bogota. The dish, popular since colonial times, incorporates a vast number of native Cundinamarca ingredients including lima beans, home grown potatoes and the forest fruit Balu from the Sumapaz region.

Chefs William Osario, Fabio Pardo and Ricardo Rodriguez told judges that the bicentennial-inspired dish was served to the priest Jose Ignacio Fisher, a signatory of the Colombian Declaration of Independence, on his return to his home town on July 21 1810 after walking fifteen hours between Bogota and Choachi.

The winning recipes will be published on the website of Colombia’s Ministry of Culture, which organized the event.

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