Gastrodiplomacy in Colombia

My whole life, traveling always brought to my plate and palate, new flavors, recipes and unique culinary experiences, enriching me and inspiring me to pursue my quest of better understanding the act of cooking…

In my field of Nutrition and well-being, the most important thing an individual could do to improve health is cooking at home from scratch, using natural ingredients… In our culture, a good way to better connect to family members and express love is through cooking and feeding… And, in a highly specialized consumer economy, the best way to reduce the sense of dependence and achieve a greater degree of self-sufficiency is through cooking…

Cooking has always been a part of my life, a passion… I started developing my kitchen skills at a very early age (10 years old) and as I was growing up, I noticed around me that people were cooking less and buying more prepared meals every year… They were spending more time watching food being cooked on television than they spend actually cooking it themselves…

And this is the reason for which, I decided to devote my career as a Dietitian to encouraging people to cook at home by sharing my recipes through my diet plans and during my weekly TV segment, radio segment and through magazines and my social media channels.

As a matter of fact, I can’t but second what the French Gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin once claimed: “Cooking made us who we are”…Yes, it taught men to use fire, it has done the most to advance the cause of civilization and led to our becoming human.

And in my case, besides all the great memories and achievements that cooking brought to my life, it embarked me on an unforgettable journey to the other side of the world.It was finally about time, I bring to a new land’s plate and palate, flavors of my country through my recipes and culinary touch.

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I was invited by the Lebanese Embassy in Colombia, last May 2019 and hosted by the Ambassador Mr.Ara Khatchadourian and his lovely wife Mrs.Myriam Khatchadourian. On the menu of my trip, a big title was prevalent: Gastrodiplomacy.

With the aim of increasing the value and standing of Lebanon through food, a couple of culinary activities planned with the Ambassador Mr.Ara and his wife Mrs.Myriam, were executed during my stay.

As “The easiest way to win hearts and minds is through the stomach”, I was happy enough to see how my participation and cooking classes contributed to win new hearts and minds in South America and reconnect with the Lebanese Diaspora thanks to the Lebanese Ambassador in Colombia and his wife.

I was honored to participate in the International Gastronomic Festival where embassies from the four corners of the world were expressing their culture through food and culinary traditions. I represented Lebanon with a couple of Lebanese ladies that emigrated years ago to Colombia and kept this culinary heritage alive…

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The second activity was a cooking class given to the Lebanese diaspora living in Bogota, at the best Culinary Institute in South America: Instituto Superior Mariano Moreno.

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The activity began with an interactive session where I shared many insightful Nutrition hints and tips.

It was then followed by the cooking session where participants prepared my recipes inspired from Lebanese flavors with a special twist.

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The third activity was another cooking class given to Colombian students at the Culinary institute Mariano Moreno with the main aim of increasing their awareness about the importance of healthy eating and cooking.

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The fourth activity was another cooking class given at Club El Nogal which is one of the most prestigious clubs in the city.The participants were members of the club, Colombians and Lebanese that happily prepared Lebanese inspired dishes with a twist.

 

In my quest of better understanding the act of cooking, this trip helped me realize how blessed I am to hold on so strongly and dearly to that passion that I try as hard as I can to convey across the universe and to remind through it, the main reason for which we became human beings… If we were still chewing raw food, the likeliness to feed ourselves alone and on the go just like other animals would have been very high… When we learnt to cook and use fire, we stopped chewing for long hours raw food, our jaws, mouth and teeth became smaller and our brains became bigger (we can simply compare the face of a gorilla to an Homo Erectus)… And the practice of eating together at an appointed time and place, served to civilize us and share with the entire universe a common language called “Cooking” that connects us to the world…

I experienced a very strong connection to Colombia, through cooking, sharing recipes and eating… One of the most interesting and worthwhile things we humans do and that determine the natural world, the meaning of health, the traditions, the sense of community, and the supreme satisfaction of producing something…

I would like to thank one more time the Lebanese Ambassador in Colombia, Mr.Ara Khatchadourian and his wife Mrs.Myriam Khatchadourian for granting me this opportunity of discovering Colombia, meeting the Lebanese Diaspora in Bogota and spreading in many kitchens my countries taste and flavors and my contagious love for cooking.

“Cooking has the power to transform more than plants and animals: it transforms us, too”…

Dietitian Nicole Maftoum

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