“With Our Own Hands” wins most prestigious international cookbook award 2016

Researchers Frederik van Oudenhoven and Jamila Haider from the Stockholm Resilience Centre received the Gourmand World Cookbook Award 2016 for ‘With Our Own Hands’. After the book’s publication in April 2015 PAR reported in May this year, when the research team returned to the Pamir Mountains to share 1700 copies in the local language with the community members (mainly women), who have contributed their recipes and knowledge to the book. In many ways, this award is a symbol of recognizing the importance of community based knowledge on agrobiodiversity that shapes local cuisines and traditions, whilst safeguarding biocultural landscapes.

The book, which contains over 100 recipes from the Pamir mountains straddling Afghanistan and Tajikistan, challenges what a cookbook can be and has been described by the panel of judges as “revolutionary”. The richly-illustrated book combines the region’s ancient ecological, agricultural and cultural heritage – it is thought that rye originated in the Pamir Mountains, and they are home to a rich diversity of various varieties of walnuts, apples, pears, apricots, mulberries and over 150 varieties of wheat.

Each recipe holds a historical record of the cultures, rituals and traditions of the Pamiri people, their landscape, farming techniques and their ancient knowledge of biodiversity and ecology. This knowledge is rapidly disappearing as young generations leave the area.

Haider dedicated the award to the contributing community members by stating that “We are surprised and honored to win this award. The book was never meant for the outside world. We wrote it for the Pamiri people. We returned last October to distribute 1700 copies of the book to the villages – to the holders of this knowledge and craft. They trusted us with their knowledge”. The Gourmand Cookbook Award is the most prestigious and largest award in the culinary calendar.

Find more information on the book and on the award here

Van Oudenhoven accepting the the top prize at the prestigious international Gourmand cookbook awards in May 2016, which took place in Yantai, China. Photo Credit: Stockholm Resilience Center