Comidas que curan was born in 2012 as a collaborative independent project by a team anthropologists, educators and filmmakers to document the good practices found in the healing and food traditions of Ecuador and Latin America. We seek to re-value and educate about our culture’s invaluable culinary and healing knowledge by recovering the memories about eating, feeding and healing remembered and practiced by our parents, grandparents and ancestors.
Our project does not pretend to return to a romantic or immutable past. We acknowledge that the culinary and healing practices and knowledge constantly change and adjust to the needs and conditions of their time–there are no original, authentic or “pure” recipes. We acknowledge that modernity brought techniques and technologies that facilitated the otherwise arduous everyday chores of our parents and grandparents. However, that same modernity has brought along lifestyles and foods that are negatively impacting our health.
This is a project to learn critically from our history and from our elders in Latin America. We draw inspiration from the bodies filled with health and strength of our grandparents and ancestors, which are a testimony of effective healing, caring and feeding knowledge systems (saberes) that were tested and perfected over centuries. This healing and food knowledge lies, to a large extent, in the unwritten archives of our elders’ memories.
We carry out documentary, research and education projects in Latin America and the United States.
Our first documentary project is a series of short cooking session documentaries featuring traditional dishes by elderly women from the province of Manabí, Ecuador. Watch all the videos here.
This project was partially funded by a grant from the National Council of Cinematography of Ecuador.
Green plantain cheese empanadas with picked onion sauce by Alicia Benavidez, Ecuador. 2012.
Fire-oven baked yucca tortillas by Modesta Bermudez, Ecuador. 2012.
Raspando coco (2018, 31 min. Spanish with English and Japanese subtitles) is our second documentary project. Find out more by visiting the official website: www.raspandococo.com and watch the film trailer below.
Comidas que curan is tied to my research on food politics, health and aging in Ecuador.
Conference papers on video
“Coconut gentrification in the coast of Ecuador” Ancestral Health Symposium, Berkeley, CA, August 2014
“Comidas que Curan: Re-discovering our Elders’ Knowledges about Food and Healing in Bahía de Caráquez and Quito-Ecuador.” Center for Latin American Studies/Lemann Institute for Brazilian Studies Lecture Series, Champaign IL. September, 2012.
Education and outreach
In collaboration with La Poderosa Media Project we teach the summer seminar “Anthropology of food and ethnographic documentary” in Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador to members of the community and study abroad college students from the United States. The seminar introduces students to questions and concepts of colonialism, power, ethnocentrism, representation, ethnographic and participatory action methods in relation to food topics including food taboos, authenticity, appropriation, traditionality and modernity, and cultural constructions of health food. Simultaneously, students learn basic concepts in documentary film-making. For their final project, students work together in teams to research, write a script and shoot the preparation of a local dish.
Watch a video of our seminar during the summer 2014.
In partnership with the Seeds Savers’ Network of Ecuador we teach the course “Cooking for a Strong Immune System” online. The course includes modules about the science, history and cooking principles of food traditions around the world as well as cooking recipes to boost the immune system. Sign up at www.madresemilla.com
Watch a video trailer of the course here.