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I walked into PCC Natural Market in West Seattle and began my usual shopping routine. Deli for sliced turkey breast, dairy cooler for Organic milk, and then swung around the corner to the baking aisle to peruse the flours and baking items. My PCC routine is terribly predictable, but sometimes I break out of the grocery-aisle fog and feel inspired to try new and unusual products (it’s part of my job, right?). That day sitting next to bags of my favorite local Bob’s Red Mill flour, I found a small brown box with a beautiful logo and the words “Purple Corn”. Purple corn flour? From Peru? I hadn’t heard of Zócalo Gourmet, but I had to try it. I have a tenderness for Peru since spent many weeks there, doing volunteer work in the early 2000’s. I went home and made a purple cornbread that was so rich and flavorful, I was convinced that if I had added chocolate it would have been the perfect dessert. I was hooked.
I contacted the company and found out that The Culinary Collective imports not only these gorgeous gluten-free flours and grains from Peru, but also owns the brand Matiz España. They import over 140 different Spanish and Peruvian traditional foods with a focus on sustainability and supporting small farmers and producers. I was impressed by their mission, and more impressed when I met one of the owners, Betsy Power. She doesn’t disappoint, her energy and personality live up to her surname. Along with her partner Pere Selles, she has grown the Culinary Collective from a tiny operation in 1998 to a thriving business with retailers all over the country. The Collective has continued to grow, and Betsy was looking for someone to be the consistent voice for their blogging and communications via social media.
We had quite a bit to chat about that first meeting over coffee, considering my time in Peru and my having lived in Spain. I also will admit to daydreaming about olive groves and paella in my spare time. I’m very excited to welcome The Culinary Collective as an Eating It Up client. If you haven’t tried their Blanxart chocolates or their incredible Peruvian flours and grains, you’re in for a treat! — Chrissy