Refugees in the Americas share their recipes in a new cookbook published by UNHCR

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From our table to yours: Fusion Cuisine. A book of recipes from the forcibly displaced community in Latin America and the Caribbean.

From our table to yours: Fusion Cuisine. A book of recipes from the forcibly displaced community in Latin America and the Caribbean.  © UNHCR/ACNUR

PANAMA - UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has published From Our Table to Yours: Fusion Cuisine, a book of recipes from the forcibly displaced community 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 persons in the region. In this cookbook, the authors of the recipes also share their story, memories, emotions, the dreams they have achieved and the ones that are yet to be fulfilled.

“At UNHCR, we believe in the power of gastronomy as a key way to foster inclusion and dialogue between communities,” says José Samaniego, UNHCR's 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 opportunities.”

Dominican-Venezuelan arepas, abrasileiradas cachapas, shawarma with chimichurri, or Belizean rice and beans with a Salvadoran touch are some of the multicultural dishes offered by these food lovers. Throughout the book, they share how gastronomy 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 to say thank you and to represent my country” says Mike, a Venezuelan in the Dominican Republic.

“Nicacapín represents the union between two countries: Nicaragua, with the gallo pinto that I used to eat at my grandmother's house, and the churrasco, which is 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 persons. Refugees and others displaced can contribute to their host communities if they have 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 offer training and support for small businesses, including gastronomic initiatives. 

Much more than a recipe book, From Our Table to Yours: Fusion Cuisine is a book that reflects the stories of millions of people who have been forced to leave 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 invites you to download this recipe book for free here, try the recipes, and share your results on social media with photos or videos of the meal you prepared with the hashtag #CookWithRefugees.

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In Panama

Data of interest for editors: 

Results from UNHCR's High Frequency Survey of 13,478 people in 12 countries in the region during 2021:

  • 65.5% of refugee and migrant families surveyed in the region indicated that their most urgent priority is to meet their needs for food, shelter and clothing.
  • 71.7% of respondents reported having had to reduce the quantity or quality of the food they consume.
  • 48.1% of refugees and migrants surveyed in the region eat two meals a day. 6.2% eat only one meal a day.
  • 51% percent of refugees and migrants surveyed in the region limited their food consumption to prioritize food for children.
  • 59.7% does not have enough resources and resorted to borrowing money to buy food and to satisfy other basic needs.

According to the UNHCR and HelpAge report A Call for Dignity: Aging in Human Mobility:

  • 41% of the older persons on the move surveyed decreased the number of meals per day with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Elderly people who do eat three meals a day do not have an adequate nutritional balance, as in many cases food intake is almost exclusively carbohydrates with very little protein and does not include ingredients that are required for older people´s diets.

About UNHCR:

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. We lead international action to protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. We deliver life-saving assistance, help safeguard fundamental human rights, and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place called home where they can build a better future. We also work to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality. We work in over 130 countries, using our expertise to protect and care for millions.