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Guess who's cooking tonight in Guatemala?

Guatemala, June 1, 2011

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Martha Munocito/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Recipe demonstrations are the vehicle to teach rural families here in Guatemala how to improve nutritional status of their children. Photo: Martha Munocito/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Martha Munocito/Mercy Corps  </span>
    This was the opportunity for three of the program's male chefs to cook an original recipe and to teach the jury and public about the nutritional benefits, cost and creative taste of their dishes. Photo: Martha Munocito/Mercy Corps

“Bienvenidos. "Loq ` le k`ulumnik. Welcome” to PROCOMIDA's final male recipe competition! This activity was done among three teams of field workers of Mercy Corps' PROCOMIDA program to strengthen one of the educational activities organized with the beneficiaries: recipe demonstrations.

Recipe demonstrations are the vehicle to teach rural families here in Guatemala how to improve nutritional status of their children by using PROCOMIDA-provided food (pinto beans, vegetable oil, rice, and corn-soy flour) and mixing it with local cuisine. The recipe competition was the opportunity for three of the program's male chefs to cook an original recipe and to teach the jury and public about the nutritional benefits, cost and creative taste of their dishes.

Guests and participants arrived early to PROCOMIDA's warehouse with their hands busy. My heart was pumping fast as I saw a river of people bringing all kinds of things through the door — two big drums; tambourines decorated with small flags; kitchen utensils such as blenders, cups, knives and big pots; table covers; flowers; designed t-shirts; creative chefs' outfits; and traditional indigenous decorations to cheer on the participants. This is getting huge, I thought.

Some of PROCOMIDA's managers were part of the jury. The communication coordinator was flying around the room shooting pictures. I was aware of how much positive energy was accumulating, minute by minute.

People were constantly coming and going to the warehouse. I felt my brain and body being stretched out to different points of the warehouse. My adrenaline level was getting high. I kept fielding questions like "What is our spot? Where do we put our things? When do we start? How are you? Can I have a pot? Who is the jury?"

Let me think, I said. The cooking zone was slowly and steadily growing.

All of my senses were in action. My eyes were checking tables, lists and ingredients. My sense of smell was enjoying all of the different aromas emanating from the different rooms. My ears were thrilled with the live music of spectators singing Llet's go team! We are going to cook with PROCOMIDA. We need to put some more love to the recipe…”

Sometimes my body followed the rhythm of the merengue or salsa that permeated the whole place.

I was poised with joy and deep gratitude in witnessing how the field workers were so happy and passionate while taking care of each other and their equipment. That is their way of working with the PROCOMIDA's beneficiaries.

In that warehouse, there was more than a recipe competition or a winner. In that warehouse there was a group of champions working in different teams — teams framed by passion to lead the efforts of a healthy nutrition for all.