The Pan American Food Festival embodies the concept of terrain in both physical and abstract ways. The festival thinks of the Americas as a single idea, a singular identity that is increasingly shared between the 41 countries of North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.
Pan America, this new site in our imaginary geography, is linked by histories of colonization and a spine of mountain ranges stretching from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. It is surrounded by great oceans that separate it from other hemispheres, from other terrains and identities. Pan America itself contains a remarkable diversity of cultures, languages, indigenous and imported folk traditions, and of course, cuisine. Its food flavours are subtly infused by the specific earth in which a plant grew, the particular pastures where an animal grazed, or the exact waters in which a fish swam. Pan America's unique dishes reflect the imagination and tastes of particular peoples and regions, reflecting another form of terrain.
North-south links among the nations that comprise the New World were strengthened in the last half of the 20th century – politically and economically through the Organization of American States (established in 1948) and culturally through the Pan American Games (first held in 1951 and coming to Toronto in 2015). The new annual Pan American Food Festival continues this growing momentum within the Western Hemisphere.
In sharing these foods from north, centre and south, we delight in our own traditions and discover the delicious variations and innovations of our neighbours. Our common bonds as residents of this new terrain are strengthened through the flavour and fun of the Pan American Food Festival.
Francisco Alvarez, Chair of the Board of Directors, Pan American Food Festival