The departmental capital of Cauca, Popayán, recently held its Gastronomy Congress, a affirming that over 15-years the so-called White City is the bastion of Colombia’s gastronomic heritage. Named a UNESCO “City of Gastronomy” in 2005, the Congreso Gastronómico keeps growing in size and reputation, and now, nds itself at the epicenter of new food possibilities. As a post-conflict consolidates, Cauca is an immense food basket ready for a global marketplace.

With its population of 330,000, and nestled between the Central and Western mountain ranges of the Andes, Popayán’s historic center is an impeccable jewel of colonial and Republican architecture. The city’s white-walled streets are leisurely to walk, hemmed-in by museums, the central Parque Caldas, and the colonial homes of 19 former presidents.

As one of the most visited destinations for its solemn Holy Week, Popayán earns its place on the United Nation’s list of Intangible Patrimony of Humanity. And, it is easy to see why: Eight churches, the iconic silver-domed Basilica of Our Lady of Assumption, important collections of religious art hidden inside every edifice, make for a year-round getaway. Between talks celebrating India’s contribution to world cuisine, and discovery of 200-year old cacao plants in the Patia river valley, I came across a poignant scene of two endearing companions partaking a Sunday morning snack of their own. As these “white walls” do speak louder than words, I could almost hear the man’s faithful friend begging: “Can you leave a bite for me?”

Photo by: Richard Emblin