Experience the world’s first gastronomic ceremony in Cuenca: ‘Let your food be your medicine’
By Einna Búho
Sacred Plant Medicine Ceremonies are a staple in Latin America. You probably have heard or even participated in a Cacao Ceremony or sacred ceremonies with Ayahuasca, the Grandmother, Huachuma, the Grandfather or maybe even Huilco, the Mother Medicine. The purpose of such a ceremony is to connect, through the spirit of the sacred plant, with yourself on a deeper level and sometimes even in a different dimension. Such a ceremony will not heal you miraculously but rather can guide you on your path of healing and health.
But what is a Gastronomic Ceremony?
The concept of Gastronomic Ceremony was born in Cuenca, in a time when the whole world needed healing. In a time, when people were lonelier than ever before. When people where isolated from each other and scared to connect. Instead of using sacred plant medicines that might alter your reality, edible plants are being used in a way that Hippocrates suggested around 400BC: ‘Let thy food be thy medicine.’
As Thich Nhat Hanh said: “Nothing can survive without food. Everything we consume acts either to heal us or to poison us. We tend to think of nourishment only as what we take in through our mouth, but what we consume with our eyes, our ears, our noses, our tongues, and our bodies is also food.”
A Gastronomic Ceremony at El Oasis, alta cocina consciente, revolves around the medicinal and healing aspects of plants and the gourmet food that is made from those plants. To ensure the highest possible frequency, they start by sourcing the best organic produce, working with vendors who enrich those plants with respect and gratitude in the growing progress. The Chefs prepare those plants with love and passion, but only after ‘smudging’ (cleansing the energies with sacred smoke) themselves and the workspace. The entire team works to provide the most loving service, with a ceremonial facilitator who brings in the spiritual aspects to create a sacred environment. They bring people together in community, applying attention and choice to return us to our heart and into a heartfelt participation with life to remind us of the profound depth that is available to us in any given moment.
What does a typical ceremony at El Oasis look like?
Every ceremony is unique, a blend of the energies of each one that participates. Your ceremony starts the moment you have your reservation confirmed. Notice what’s happening in your life from the moment you receive your confirmation till the day of the actual ceremony. Notice how you feel and maybe hold an intention in your mind. The day of your ceremony, make it a priority to arrive on time. Doors open at 17:30, you will be warmly greeted and offered to be smudged to leave all unwanted energies outside. Make sure not to arrive later than 17:55, as doors are closed at 18:00 sharp and you won’t be able to enter once the ceremony has begun.
You will be seated at a large community table, specifically designed for ceremonies of up to 12 people. Your seat will be personalized with your name and sometimes even with a riddle, that can make it easier to connect with fellow participants. Once you are seated, a welcome drink will be served. The ceremony starts when the chefs come out to welcome you and to open the ceremony together. One essential part is always that the group takes a few guided deep breaths together to allow everyone to empty their minds, to put aside all worldly troubles for the time being and for the group to come together on the same energetic level. It is also very important for the chefs, who have been preparing all day to switch to a ceremonial serving mode.
During the course of 3 or 4 hours, you will be served a total of 5 drinks and 8 plates. Each plate is created with creativity, innovation, and artistic style, so when placed in front of you, you can feel the love and appreciation that the universe holds for you. Since the menu is never announced beforehand, as part of the experience, it requires from you an open mind and trust. The chefs will reward you by taking the time to personally explain each plate and point out individual ingredients and their healing properties. After the savory plates and a palate cleanser, you will be moving into a three-part Cacao Ceremony which usually ends with a personalized plate for each guest. Towards the end of the night, the chefs will take time to answer questions and to listen to your experience. The riddles’ answers will be shared and as a special treat, each one will receive a hand crafted and handwritten card with a special message from the universe before the ceremony will be closed together.
The details of the 8 plate 5 drink tasting menu are never announced ahead of time, but what you can be ensured of is that no animal products are being used in the kitchen, as well as no gluten, white sugar, table salt and cheap, highly processed oils. No store bought, processed, or packaged items are being served. Everything is created in-house and as much as possible made from scratch, including plant-based butters, milks, and cheeses. Grain free breads, cakes, and cookies. All made with rich flavors, love, and passion.
Who created the concept of Gastronomic Ceremonies and how many people are behind this one-of-a-kind experience?
A gourmet multiplate tasting menu at this level usually requires a team of chefs, cooks, and helpers in the kitchen, and outside the kitchen another team to provide excellent service. Then you need a team for planning and facilitating the ceremony.
Or you count on the strength of family!
The founders of the concept of Gastronomic Ceremonies are Chefs Annie Lulu and Mico EagleFeather. Together with Mico’s father Steve and Annie’s daughter Malia Luna , they hold the space to come together in community.
Mico as the Head Chef and Annie as the Ceremonial Facilitator are the ones planning, preparing, and creating in the kitchen. Since it is only the two of them, they can guarantee the highest level of quality. Steve takes care of the guests during the ceremony and Malia helps in service and drink preparation.
Where and how can I participate in such a ceremony?
El Oasis — alta cocina consciente — in Cuenca is the birthplace of this jewel. To request a reservation, contact via phone or email:
Corner of Mariscal Lamar and Escultor Ayabaca
Mico and Annie are following up with international requests to hold their Gastronomic Ceremonies in other countries around the world. If you would like to host a Gastronomic Ceremony at your location, contact El Oasis for more information.
Einna Búho is a seasoned world traveler, foodie, writer, and artist. She is passionate about sharing new, healthy, and unique dining experiences, as well as the healing benefits for participating in plant ceremonies.