Guatemalan Cooking On Lopez
(Pat Tropie photo)
By Barbara Keller
For years I have been excited about a wonderful community development program on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. This week ten lucky Lopezians had a chance to sample the culture of their "sister" community in Guatemala over food.
Thanks to Lopez artists Pat Torpie and Nancy Bingham the Islands have had a relationship with the hillside town of Santa Cruz la Laguna on the shores of Lake Atitlan for over two decades.
Chef Juan Carlos Mendoza is a graduate of the Amigos de Santa Cruz Culinary Program in Santa Cruz la Laguna, Guatemala and top chef for their award winning, graduate-run, Café Sabor Cruceño. He and Rosalia Simon Perez, the Amigos program coordinator, visited Lopez for a week to share food and friendship. Both graduates of the Amigos' CECAP (Centro de Capacitacion), last Tuesday they taught community members at Grace Church in Lopez Village to make traditional Guatemalan food, drink and hand-formed tortillas.
The Amigos programs include health and nutrition, educational support, youth development and vocational programs. The vocational programs developed as children started to progress through the school system for the first time and needed additional opportunities. While other organizations may focus on direct giving to meet immediate needs, Amigos works to provide a structure for generational change, a long-term work for long-term impact, helping the rural communities around Santa Cruz accessed only by water.
One of the vocational initiatives of Amigos became first the cooking school and then the top-rated restaurant overlooking Lake Atitlan with the mountains beyond, like looking across the straits here at home. Here on Lopez one class became a lesson in more than cooking, we are struck by the commonality of our desires to build strong, lasting opportunities in our remote locations and our enjoyment of flavorful foods in good company.
To learn more visit the Amigos website at: www.amigosdesantacruz.org