Cathy Holt
4 min readMay 2, 2023

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“Disco Sopa”? What could that be? A musical soup? Turns out it is considered part of the “Slow Food” movement. It was started in Berlin, Germany in 2012 by a Slow Food group, and is now an international event.

Produce about to be tossed

The idea is that so much food is unnecessarily wasted, and instead we can take advantage of this resource and keep down the waste, while feeding our communities. Nearly 10 million tons of food are wasted or lost daily in Colombia alone.

To make it fun, get a DJ to play some good upbeat music! Hernan, whose brand “Lokal” is part of Casa Comun, organized it. He sells yogurt, ghee, tomato sauce, rhubarb, cookies, and a few other products. On Friday he went tol bakeries and stores, and came back with a several boxes of slightly damaged produce — including a lot of carrots, some potatoes, onions, red peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, radishes, a pineapple, plantains, garlic, limes, and a few local vegetables whose names I’ve forgotten. He also collected bread, which he then transformed into tasty croutons, plus several “breadcrumb cakes” and an onion-cheese tart. Certainly he must have contributed a lot of eggs, yogurt and some cheese.

Most everyone in the house pitched in. Serafin carried four crates of vegetables and plantains up the stairs. The kitchen crew, consisting of myself, a young woman and her 8-year-old daughter, and later Jakob, set about washing, peeling and chopping the carrots and potatoes, and another vegetable sort of like a sweet potato.

Mother and daughter team!

I was very impressed by the skill of this young girl with a sharp knife, and her willingness to help prepare questionable-looking carrots. Hernan placed a hat marked “Slow Food” on her head and gave her and her mother aprons. He himself wore a T-shirt emblazoned with a snail and the words “Slow Food.”

Margarita provided cutting boards, knives, bowls, her food processor, salt, seasonings, ice for the limonada, and more. Families with children were there, and while the food was prepared the kids were sprawled on the floor inside Margarita’s house drawing pictures. Shona helped keep them entertained. Rafa built a fire and heated a giant pot of water over it. Juan Pablo, the local DJ, arrived with his speakers and headphones, and started a lively beat going while we boogied around chopping vegetables.

Hernan with his baked goods

Hernan set up a folding table and covered it in beautiful fresh green banana leaves, then arranged his cakes and tart; he helped direct volunteers to tasks. I brought up some cloths to keep away the flies. While the carrots and potatoes boiled, we sliced radishes, peeled and chopped tomatoes, garlic and cilantro for a salsa, and sliced red peppers. I salvaged most of the pineapple, chopped it up and tossed in some chopped fresh mint. Anapaloma and Serafin roasted plantains over the remaining coals. Once the carrot mixture was cooked, Jakob put batches of it through Margarita’s food processor/blender. Two huge pots full of delicious vegan soup!

Finally, several of us squeezed limes for limonada. However, the lime squeezers got ahead of the filtered water, so the limonada was very strong and sour! We ran out of filtered water, partly because my filter is getting clogged more often and is slow, and also Margarita’s is very slow. I’ve heard that the water quality in Barichara has gotten worse.

Margarita Higuera, right foreground

This day reminded me of Food Not Bombs in Berkeley. Every week, a group of us would gather up all the produce about to be tossed out, and a huge amount of donated bread, and transform it into tasty vegan dishes. Usually dried beans or lentils would form the base of a soup filled with vegetables; often we worked with carrots, sometimes the bottom of the box was orange slime! Usually we would make some sort of “stuffing” from the older bread, adding sauteed onions, carrots, peppers and celery. Then we would bring the food, sometimes via a cart attached to a bicycle, to People’s Park where the homeless folks would be awaiting us.

In Barichara, there are no homeless people. But they do exist in larger cities such as San Gil, I was told. Instead, a drove of invited friends arrived to enjoy the feast and the music. Rafa got a case of beer and sold it at cost. At least 30 people showed up, and yet there was still soup left over at the end of the day!

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Cathy Holt

Cathy has been living in Colombia for 2 years. She’s passionate about regenerating landscapes with water retention, agro-forestry, and biogas digestors.