Mama Misak cooking on the stove. ©

British Council

Our strategy to foster Misak traditional cuisine is implemented through the process of gathering and disseminating knowledge, guided and led by Shuras (the wisest), Taitas (senior men) and Mamas (senior women), who continue to live according to the Misak worldview and tradition.

The outcome of this process was the identification of traditional yatules (vegetable gardens), culinary maps and a collection of 376 own recipes that use 108 autochthonous foods, whether wild or grown.

Efforts to recover traditional cuisine were made in each of the areas of the Resguardo de Guambía as follows:

Mamas Misak cooking prior to the Misak Traditional Cuisines Meeting. ©

British Council

Traditional recipe prepared in a wood stove. ©

British Council

Traditional Misak Recipe ©

British Council

Traditional Misak Recipe. ©

British Council

Purachak Area

Taita José Antonio Pillimue is the culinary heritage representative for the Purachak area.

He owns one of the most diversified yatules (vegetable gardens) with fruit trees as well as other subsistence and commercial foods. He has experience and knowledge of how to make organic compost, and traditional sowing and maintenance systems. He is also capable of identifying a great number of medicinal plants and classifying the different types of oranges, potatoes, tomatoes and aromatic plants, depending on the purpose intended.

Gran Chimán Area

Mama Juana Tunubalá is the reference point for the Gran Chimán Area. She is 100% devoted to agriculture and ancestral traditions. She grows sacred plants for traditional medicine in her yatul (garden). She has a wealth of culinary knowledge, as her nashak (stove) hosts the preparation of 100% traditional Misak foods, and she is respected by everyone. She is one of the Mamas (senior women) who can speak very little Spanish and tries to lead her life according to tradition.

New Guambía Area

Mama Concepción Cuchillo represents the New Guambía Area. Mother and head of the household, this Mama (senior woman) is known for her flavours and for her yatul (vegetable garden), one of the most complete, as it includes a great variety of products including flowers. She is a woman who believes in self-sufficiency. Her yatul (garden) provides more than 70% of the products required for a healthy and balanced diet. Her work involves her family, thus also transmitting a sense of cultural belonging.

Tranal Area

Mama Florinda Tunubalá lives in the Tranal area. She is a mayora (senior woman) who plays an essential role in the household.

Her cuisine is a true art form: she mixes self-produced foods with commercial products. She also promotes and shares the importance of traditional agriculture, where work is not only a productive activity but also a space for family integration. She grows a great variety of flowers and vegetables, her yatul (garden) surrounds her house, which makes it one of the biggest and with the greatest variety.

Michambe Area

Mama Antonia Tumiña is the representative of the Michambe Area. She is the head of her household and is devoted to agriculture and raising her children. Her Spanish is not fluent, thus, to talk and share experiences with her next to the nashak (stove) in her kitchen becomes a very interesting and enriching experience. She grows a large quantity of corn and onion in her yatul (garden), which she sells to make an income to sustain her family.

Mama Antonia prepared a rarely cooked dish called itsik, an onion stew with sliced meat, thus starting the process of recovery and dissemination of this recipe.

Cacique Area

Mama Inés Tumiña is a young active woman representing the Cacique Area, who prefers exact or standardised preparations.

She has worked on early childhood and is convinced of the importance of recovering and adopting traditional Misak cuisine, which contributes to proper child development. She works with her husband and they lead a healthy and traditional way of life, stressing the importance of unity and teamwork based on mutual respect. She is known for her kendu, the most representative dish in the Misak cuisine, a soup with lamb and different vegetables, potatoes and beans.

Pueblito Area

Mama Helena Trochez lives in the Pueblito Area and coordinates, in collaboration with 9 families, a communal yatul (vegetable garden).

She also owns a restaurant called “La Favorita”, in La Peña del Corazón, where she welcomes visitors and tourists. She prepares smoked trout, using alder wood, which gives the trout a characteristic flavour.

She also grows onions, cape gooseberry and corn, and raises chickens. She is a young woman who has preserved her identity and reinforced it by preparing traditional Misak dishes in her restaurant. Her only son has a fish farm that provides her with trout.

Campana Area

Mama Claudia Montano lives in the Campana Area. She is a young entrepreneur with cooking experience. She has experimented with the fusion of Traditional Misak and oriental cuisines with excellent results.

She also works the land, growing and selling her products to provide income for her family. She prepared traditional dishes from the Campana Area such as smoked trout, meat stew with mote (husked wheat), arracacha chips, oca dessert and cape gooseberry juice.

Cofre Area

Mama Narcisa Velasco lives in the coldest area of the Misak territories. She represented her area with the preparation of tsaporeik, one of the most flavoursome Misak traditional dishes, a red potato puree with cheese, caucharina or pomboi (corn), cow brains, and salt to taste.

She works in agriculture. She also sells young trout farmed in her incubator and supplies part of the Misak territory with large quantities of beans, ulluco and sabanera potatoes.

The first participation of the Misak people in the XVII Gastronomic Congress included the presentation of three of their own recipes, as well a contemporary dish. The event took place in the city of Popayan between September 6-8, 2019. The goal of their participation in this context was to raise awareness of the richness and variety of their food sovereignty, which is an essential part of Misaks’ health and self-care. We worked to raise awareness on the importance of growing crops using traditional seeds and of ancestral practices such as the preparation of the land or of organic compost. We also talked about the relationship between these activities, the phases of the Moon and the Misak calendar.

Traditional recipes are fundamental because they strengthen the Misak identity and their food sovereignty while being part of their daily lives.