Sonoma-Pachay Food Culture Exchange
It began in 2002 when Slow Food Sonoma County submitted one of over 800 nominations for the International Slow Food Award, given in Turin, Italy. Our nominee was a group of 29 traditional Mayan women from the village of Pachay Las Lomas, Guatemala, affectionately called the “Chicken Ladies” for their chicken egg business. To our great delight, they received one of the five first-place awards, for “creating a production structure that achieves many objectives. It creates income for a significantly disadvantaged social group—women—whose situation in Guatemala has been further aggravated by the effect of long years of civil war. It creates social conscience and self respect. It provides the basis for a system of agriculture that is sustainable and has low environmental impact.”
Since the international recognition, our relationship with the Chicken Ladies featured a scholarship fund. As a result of voluntary member donations, each year approximately 36 students have received scholarships.
In September 2007, Slow Food Sonoma County, North expanded the relationship with AMIDI, the name of their government-recognized indigenous women’s association involved in farming and traditional weaving. The project goal is mutual education and support, based on agricultural traditions, food preparation, cultural values around food, and Slow Food concepts. A primary objective is to support AMIDI in maintaining their customs of sustainable agriculture.
A discussion between farmers in Guatemala and Sonoma County was initiated in November 2008 with a visit from AMIDI’s leader, Ana Maria Chali Calan to Sonoma County. One event was “Sonoma County Meets Guatemala,” a class and dinner at Relish Culinary School in Healdsburg. At this event, Ana Maria demonstrated tortilla making, and Carrie Brown and Peter Brown of Jimtown Store prepared a dinner using ingredients available in Sonoma County and Guatemala. Enjoy the recipes (PDF) from this dinner, which appear with permission from Jimtown Store.
The women of AMIDI are also expert weavers. In December, 2009 some of their intricate weavings for the table were offered for sale after a convivium tamale-making event. This sale was so popular that we have requested more weavings from AMIDI to sell at future convivium events.