Food for Thought: Local Immigrants Dish Up More than Food

“Those people.” You’ve heard that phrase uttered by individuals and you instantly know what is implied.

Well, let’s chat about “those people.”

Apart from indigenous peoples who were the original stewards of the soil beneath our feet, the remaining individuals who embody America are immigrants or ancestors of immigrants or ancestors of ancestors of immigrants.

All of us.

Today, many immigrants make their way to the United States from Central and South America. Skilled, smart, passionate and proud, these individuals — whether here legally or not — stand in the ever looming shadow of possible detention.

Now, a group of passionate individuals dedicated to social justice and cultural preservation has released a book and documentary. Cocina Libre: Immigrant Resistance Recipes is a collection of recipes and stories that not only gives us the flavor of lands far away but also recounts stories of immigrants coming to America.

The documentary, entitled Concina Libre: Immigrant Stories, follows the lives of four Venezuelans as they navigate the challenging path to the United States while preserving their cultural heritage through the art of cooking. Both the book and the documentary aim to foster understanding, compassion and solidarity.

This effort is led by Dr. Julia Roncoroni and Dr. Delio Figueroa who explain that “every year, hundreds of thousands of non-citizens in the U.S. find themselves detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.” Dr. Roncoroni, originally of Argentina and now an associate professor in Counseling Psychology at the University of Denver, and Dr. Figueroa, originally from Puerto Rico and working as a music teacher in the Adams County School District, say that “in the shadows of these statistics lies a human toll that often goes untold.”

“Our cookbook is born out of a desire to amplify the voices and stories of immigrants who have experienced the profound challenges of immigration and/or detention in the U.S.,” they said.

Cocina Libre is not just a cookbook,” explains University of Denver graduate student Arleigh Perkins. “It is a testament to the power of storytelling and the importance of amplifying marginalized voices in our society.”

The self-published book went on sale May 16 and is available on Amazon. All proceeds of the book will be donated to the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), which advocates for the rights of immigrants in Colorado and the U.S. regardless of legal status.

The documentary receives its debut on Tuesday, May 21 from 7-8:20pm at Racines Brewery at 2060 W. Colfax Ave. Visit Dr. Roncoroni’s website for more information.

These projects — these people — reflect strength and resiliency, the very same traits that enabled America’s Founding Fathers to forge a new country.