The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (the UN Refugee Agency) has published From Our Table to Yours: Fusion Cuisine, a new cookbook of recipes created by forcibly displaced communities in Latin America and Caribbean.
The book brings together recipes that combine flavors and sensations, representing a fusion of the countries of origin, and the host countries of 14 refugees and forcibly displaced persons in the region. In this cookbook, the authors of the recipes also share their stories, memories, emotions, and dreams they have achieved, and ones yet to be fulfilled.
“At UNHCR, we believe in the power of gastronomy as a key way to foster inclusion and dialogue between communities,” says José Samaniego, UNHCR’s Regional Director for the Americas. “Behind every displaced person there is a story of loss and uprooting, but also a wealth of hope, skills and opportunities.”
Dominican-Venezuelan arepas, abrasileiradas cachapas, shawarma with chimichurri, Colombian empanadas or Belizean rice and beans with a Salvadoran touch are some of the multicultural dishes offered by these food lovers. Throughout the book, the refugees share how gastronomy has allowed them to resume their lives.
“This recipe reflects who I am, it’s a mix of where I come from and where I live today. It’s a way to say thank you and to represent my country” says Mike, a Venezuelan in the Dominican Republic.
“Nicacapín represents the union between two countries: Nicaragua, with the gallo pinto that I used to eat at my grandmother’s house, and the churrasco, which is so typical of Guatemala. Together, they represent brotherhood,” says Wilmer, a Nicaraguan in Guatemala.
The Americas region is home to more than 18 million forcibly displaced persons. Refugees and others displaced can contribute to their host communities if they have the opportunity to integrate and use their skills and talents.
UNHCR in the Americas works to protect millions of forcibly displaced people in the region and provide them with durable solutions that allow them to rebuild their lives. UNHCR implements a range of activities that promote inclusion and offer training and support for small businesses, including gastronomic initiatives.
Much more than a recipe book, From Our Table to Yours: Fusion Cuisine is a book that reflects the stories of millions of people who have been forced to leave their homes. It is also a call to all countries in the region to promote the inclusion of refugees and forcibly displaced people in order to build stronger societies.
UNHCR is offering a free download of this recipe book at this link here, and invite readers to try the recipes, and share their results on social media with photos or videos of the meal prepared under the hashtag #CookWithRefugees.
Some interesting facts by the UNHCR deal with food habits among displaced communities and migrants families across the region. According to the agency High Frequency Survey, 65.5% of refugees indicate that their most urgent priority is to meet their food needs, shelter and clothing. Almost three out of every four refugees have to reduce the quantity, or quality, of foods they consume. And 48% of migrants eat two meals a day.