Paths of Excellence

Paths of Excellence

Nariño – Colombia

Coast, rainforest and Andes: concentration of diversity

Many are the characteristics that identify a nation. Among others, language, dress and the territory they occupy are evident characteristics. However, cuisine flavor, its scents and its preparation, occupy a specific role in the ethos of any culture. In America there are ancient products that are grown and consumed throughout the continent. To mention a few corn, potatoes, squash, tomatoes, pineapple, chocolate and essential condiments like pepper and cinnamon. These and other fruits original from the New World changed much of the diet and eating habits of Europe and the entire world.


Despite their similar nature, the way of preparing, consuming and tasting various ingredients is different. For instance, in Colombia, only the fruit and the seeds of the pumpkin are used, while in Mexico they also use the leaves, stems and flowers of the pumpkin. The differences are not only between countries but also between regions, even in dishes that have the same name, and almost the same ingredients, the flavors are different.


To mention one example there is the “valley” stew and there is also the “coastal” stew. In the South we clearly distinguish the stew from the “mountains” and the stew from the “lowlands”, the latter being the most desired. To highlight the singularity of Nariño, Jorge Zalamea said: “Nariño is not a department, it is a country.” In this wild and diverse geography cultures flourished and reached a remarkable economic, political and cultural development. In 1536, two races and two dissimilar cultures were mixed, that were enriched with African contribution that came towards the end of sixteenth century. From this magic melting pot, the most diverse culinary seasonings surfaced: some, were driven by a culinary syncretism that gave way to the miracle of the “new”, arising from the mixture of humble and noble offspring; others emerged from preserving the original essences of what was autochthonous, that despite time, still remain as symbols of a past full of glory and nostalgia.

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