A cookbook written by formerly illiterate cooks from Northern Colombia won the prestigious “Best Cookbook in the World” award at an international culinary awards ceremony held in China on Monday.
Published in 2013, the cookbook entitled “Kumina ri Palenge pa to paraje,” a creole title that translates as, “Palenquero cooking for the world” won the Best Cookbook in the World award at the 2014 annual Gourmand World Cookbook Awards held in Beijing, China.
The authors come from the San Basilio de Palenque area in northern Colombia and wrote the book after their success in a District of Cartagena literacy program.
The recipes in the book lean heavily on the creole cooking and culture of the area.
San Basilio de Palenque being one of the last places in Colombia where spanish-creole is still spoken.
Creole language and customs began with the discovery of the Americas when natives mixed with European explorers and a new language and set of customs was created. Such customs are still strong today with food being an especially potent part of the culture.
According to Edward Cointreau, chairman of the Gourmand Cookbook Awards, the award is a “fitting tribute to its heritage, its history and its heroes,” giving the authors the “opportunity to show the world their culture.”
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos also took time to congratulate the winners via twitter.
Felicitaciones a los Palenqueros que reciben 1er puesto en el Libro del año en premios Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2014 en Beijing,China
— Juan Manuel Santos (@JuanManSantos) Mayo 20, 2014
Over 180 books worldwide competed of which only 19% came from Latin America with “Palenquero cooking for the world” also coming with an 18-track CD of creole music from groups Sexteto Tabala and Son Palenque.
The cookbook has now been translated into English and French.
This not the first time that the northern Colombian town has come to global attention. Musician Rafael Cassiani, one of the most well-known living musicians in Colombia’s traditional Palenque culture, who now has many fans on video social media site YouTube.