“Cocina palenquera para el mundo” is not just any book. It compiles the knowledge and oral tradition of San Basilio de Palenque, a village whose cultural space is enlisted in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
38 villagers—who could not read or write— participated in the creation of the book, which was originally written in Palenque language, but is also available in Spanish, English and French. The book is complemented with 18 songs about Palenque’s food, written by the Sextet Tabalá and the aggrupation Son Palenque.
After competing against 15,000 books from 184 countries, “Kumina ri Palenge pa tó paraje” (the book’s title in Palenque language) was selected as the best cookbook in the world at the 2014 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
“This is the world cup of cookbooks, the dimension is huge,” said Rodolfo Ardila, director of the Social Development of the Transformemos Institution and editor of the book. “It’s like winning the gastronomy Oscar”.
Editors, authors, chefs, restaurant owners, critics and journalists—among hundreds of personalities from the culinary literature—participate annually in the event.
Such recognition is one of the reasons why in gastronomy, the answer is Colombia.