Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to cook fish and he’ll have culinary skills he can turn to time and time again, no matter where life takes him.


As you reflect on your hopes, goals, and dreams for the upcoming year, we invite you to make time for practicing hands-on heritage cooking. If we’ve learned anything from more than three decades of traveling, eating, and connecting around the world, it’s that hands-on heritage cooking is a delicious and easy way to help shape eating habits for the long term, bringing wisdom from some of the world’s healthiest communities into our home kitchens.

Opportunities to learn cooking skills from diverse chefs and home cooks abound in the most surprising corners around the globe, if you know where to look. In 2016, we brought a group of convivial travelers on a ferry to the Greek Island of Kea, and were welcomed into the lush gardens and warm home of renowned cookbook author Aglaia Kremezi. Stepping into her outdoor kitchen, we were immersed in the Mediterranean diet across all senses, preparing fragrant, colorful dishes like Orange and Olive Oil Carrots, Skordalia with Beets and Greens, Baked Gigante Beans, Epiran Feta Tart, and Halva Semifreddo, all enjoyed family-style at outdoor tables in her gardens – a true “pinch me” moment.

Greece Culinaria 2016

“Wandering around North African souks, getting lost in the enchanting maize of La Boqueria, in Barcelona, or sharing 12 different dishes prepared with superb fresh anchovies in a tiny sea-side Salerno village are a small example of the wealth of experiences that we enjoyed in ‘the Oldways’ traveling circus of foodies,’ as somebody once called our multi-national group,” fondly recalls Kremezi, who will be who will be joining us on an upcoming culinary tour of the Peloponnese in May and who opens her home to private, custom cooking experiences.

Hands-on heritage cooking is also a key strategy for reducing health inequities by leveraging two valuable tools: exposure and education. This is the case in A Taste of African Heritage, a 6-week cooking and nutrition curriculum based on healthy, plant-based foods from across the African Diaspora. One participant in Dallas, Texas, reflects: “This class has proven to be one of the best things that I could have ever done for myself. Why? Because I eat every day, and if I can make daily adjustments (no matter how small), it becomes a lifestyle of change not only to myself but to my family and friends as well. I’m spreading it like good news!”


Students learn everything from a surprising Senegalese trick for thickening stews (peanut butter!) to tips for flash-cooking greens in a way that maximizes flavor and nutrition for busy weeknights, to the rich history of ancient grains across the African continent. In addition to exposure, these programs provide an introduction to basic cooking skills and nutrition principles that people can carry with them throughout the rest of their lives, no matter what set of circumstances they find themselves in. Increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables isn’t going to do people any good if they have no idea what to make with these ingredients or how to use them.

Flash-cooked Dandelion Greens

“The discussions have been just as vibrant as the dishes that we’re making in class! I can surely say that this class is making my students more informed about foods and is helping them make healthier choices when it comes to feeding themselves and their families,” says one A Taste of African Heritage instructor in Maryland.

These hands-on heritage cooking experiences can benefit not only participants, but teachers as well, as one of the program instructors in Illinois shared: “To those of you on the fence, who are considering bringing A Taste of African Heritage to your community…all I can say is DO IT! You will be helping yourself and others in the true African spirit of Ubuntu: ‘I am who I am because of who we are to each other.’”

Whether you want to immerse yourself in a culinary excursion, participate in a virtual African Heritage cooking class, or bring cultural cooking and nutrition programming to your own local community, there are countless opportunities to make it a Heritage New Year. By joining us in learning global cooking techniques and recipes, 2024 is set to be the most delicious and nourishing year yet!

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