Refugees showcase Latin American recipes in new UNHCR cookbook

Courtesy of UNHCR

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (the United Nations Refugee Agency) has released From Our Table to Yours: Fusion Cuisine, a new cookbook created by forcibly displaced communities in Latin America and the 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 people in the region. In this cookbook, the authors of the recipes also share their stories, memories, emotions and dreams that they have realized and those that remain to be realized.

“At UNHCR, we believe in the power of gastronomy as an essential means of fostering inclusion and dialogue between communities,” says José Samaniego, UNHCR 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 opportunity.”

Dominican-Venezuelan arepas, basileiradas cachapas, chimichurri shawarma, Colombian empanadas or Belizean rice and beans with a Salvadoran twist are some of the multicultural dishes offered by these foodies. Throughout the book, the refugees tell how food 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 of saying thank you and representing my country,” said Mike, a Venezuelan in the Dominican Republic.

“Nicacapín represents the union between two countries: Nicaragua, with gallo pinto that I ate at my grandmother’s, and the churrasco, 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 people. Refugees and other displaced people can contribute to their host communities if they are given 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 provide training and support to small businesses, including gastronomic initiatives.

Much more than a cookbook, From Our Table to Yours: Fusion Cuisine is a book that reflects the stories of millions of people who have been forced from 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 offers a free download of this cookbook at this link here, and invites readers to try the recipes and share their results on social media along with photos or videos of the meal being prepared under the hashtag #CookWithRefugees.

Some interesting facts from UNHCR address the dietary habits of displaced communities and migrant families across the region. According to the High Frequency Survey, 65.5% of refugees say their most urgent priority is meeting their food, shelter and clothing needs. Nearly three out of four refugees have to reduce the quantity or quality of the food they eat. And 48% of migrants eat two meals a day.

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