As part of the celebration of the 200-year of history of the relationship between Colombia and the United States, high-level audiences in Washington have been delighted with the best samples of Colombian music, flavors, and culture.
Thanks to the Embassy of Colombia to the United States, US government officials, opinion leaders and high-level figures in the society of the US capital have taste Colombian cuisine, rhythms and dances representative of the country.
In each of the events held, the audiences have witnessed and experience firsthand the deep connection to the United States and the influence of both cultures in personal relationships.
When journalist Maureen Orth, a native of Berkley, California who has donated hours and hours of her time to communities of young people in Colombia was granted Colombian nationality, on April 26, 2022, guests were able to dance to the rhythm of Joropo, thanks to the Academy Cabrestero, that has been recognized as one of the best in teaching this rhythm.
In the celebration for Orth, President of Colombia Ivan Duque recongnized her work and her passion for the country in a moving video call from the capital of the country.
Once the ceremony finished, the dancers - three couples - stomped their feet in the floor of the main hall of the residence in front of the audience that little by little became infected with the flavor and sound of the traditional rhythm. So much so that the honoree, and the Colombian Ambassador to the United States, Juan Carlos Pinzón tried to follow the steps that have made this one of the most representative dances in the country.
Between tears of emotion, the honoree took photos with the members of the dance group and with the musicians who played various traditional melodies from the Colombian eastern plains.
To complete the special night, chef Maria Camila Garcia traveled from Villavicencio to present daily dishes from the area, such as mamona, or Llanera veal that was served with avocado mousse, plantain gnocchi, bathed in garlic sauce, roasted, basil sprouts, garlic flowers and serrano ham. The menu also included fish fillet glazed in cocona jam, with fresh sprouts of coriander, basil, pansy, lemon ant and mashed yucca. People also tasted a special coffee from Amor Perfecto cultivated in el Meta.
The chef shared parts of her life story with the audience and talked about the eastern plains and the department of Meta, a central Colombian department, located in the west of the country.
García Jaramillo was born in Bogotá but moved to Villavicencio – Meta - with her parents when she was four months old. In 2017 she returned to Villavicencio and opened her own restaurant - Bastimento - which she has owned and operated for 14 years. She has travelled to Panama and other countries to promote Llanera cuisine, and, in 2013, she wrote the book “Sabores y Saberes de la Cocina del departamento del Meta” with the Meta Tourism Institute. In 2016 she was awarded the title of Revelation Chef by a national magazine, and in 2017 she was chosen to cook for Pope Francis during his visit to Colombia.
In another event, attended by personalities such as Alison Starling, winner of seven Emmy awards for her journalistic work, and current presenter of channel 7 of the ABC network in DC, or Katrina Chan, director of relations for the Forum Bloomberg New, Tanya Mayorca, Secretary of Homeland Security´s wife, Adele Malpass, World Bank President´s wife and Mary Garland, Attorney General of the United States, among other guests, were delighted with other flavors from Colombia.
With a menu designed by chef Oscar Gonzalez, guests toured different areas of the country, starting with the potato from Boyacá through a tuber mille-feuille with cheese sauce, then through the Caribbean with a delicious white fish adored with mustard seeds and honey and ending with a singular rice and pork rind that show case essences from the central zone of the country.
The chef also shared his knowledge and ideas with other kitchen professionals in residence that took his tips and suggestions for other events.
Son of peasants, Oscar González is from Bucaramanga and describes himself as a dreamer. He feels that he has a mission that he inherited from his grandmother and that is why he has dedicated his work to highlighting a very Colombian product: the potato. His work is also focused on helping producing communities to promote and cultivate new species.
The chef's presentation was part of an event that also highlighted the importance and uniqueness of Colombian emeralds through a private exhibition with partners from the United States.
In the evening Gonzalez served some snacks for another group of important guests hosted by Ambassador Juan Carlos Pinzón and his wife, Pilar Lozano.
All these events that celebrate 200 years of diplomatic relations have been put together by an important team from the Embassy, led by Pinzón and partners from both countries who want to show through of culture the strength of the bilateral relationship.
THE “CABRESTERO” ACADEMY OF ARTISTIC AND CULTURAL TRAINING
The “Cabrestero” Academy of Artistic and Cultural Formation is an institution of cultural character, with a history of more than seventeen years, directed by renowned dancer and choreographer Gustavo Erledy Vasquez Maldonado. Focusing mainly on the llanera or joropo styles of dance, there is an emphasis on Colombian folklore within the choreography. The Academy has received recognition as the premier school for these styles of dance, winning more awards and titles than any other school at various competitions, meetings, festivals and tournaments throughout the country. To date, the Academy has won more than a hundred national and international events of llanera dance.
The Academy works to create the best and most artistic musical shows, being invited to different national and international events, including: International Joropo Tournament, Santa Barbara De Arauca Festival, Bicentennial Of Colombia In Panama, International Meeting Of Harps Coatepec Veracruz - Mexico, Flowers Fair, Anato Fair, Independence Celebration Of Colombia In Boston Massachusetts, Inauguration National Cup Of Rodeo Rio Negro - Antioquia, Expomilano 2015 - Italy, Independence Day Celebration Of Colombia In Peru and Richmond Folk Festival.
COLOMBIAN INGREDIENTS USED BY CHEF MARIA CAMILA GARCIA:
· Cocona (Amazonian Lulo): Discovered by Spanish surveyor Apolinar Diez de la Fuente in 1760 between Guaharibos Falls and the Orinoco River, the cocona plant is a shrub that is cultivated in Peru, Venezuela, Colombia and bordering regions of Brazil. Its acidic and aromatic flavor allows for a variety of consumption: preserves, sauces, juices, in salads or as medicine.
· Bacao (Maraco, Macabmo): A relative of copoazú and cocoa, bacao is produced in the Amazon, Orinoco and Pacific regions of South America. Consumed mainly whole or in sorbet, it is an ancestral fruit and for the indigenous people, drinking bacao is considered holy. High concentrations of omega and vitamin C lead some to believe that bacao also holds medicinal properties.
· Gulupa(Purple Passion Fruit): Gulupa is a fruit that has its origins in the Brazilian Amazon, though its main diversification center is located throughout the Andean Region in Colombia. It has a milder and more aromatic flavor as compared to the traditional passion fruit.
· Lemon Ant: The lemon ant lives in trees, called duroia, in the Amazon Rainforest. Though individually small, lemon ants can cultivate entire plots of the species, known as “devil’s gardens,” by using their own herbicide to kill of all the plants in the area aside from the ones in which they reside. When consumed, the taste is very similar to lemon or lime zest and one can expect a crunchy texture due to the legs and exoskeletons.