Creating the recipe book
We began the sessions in October, our facilitator Dr Sindi Gordon would encourage the group to share stories about food
In the first session the group were asked to write down their name/s and all the countries they had ever lived in on a sticky note. They then stuck the sticky note on the map on the country they were born in. It was so interesting to see the array of sticky notes on the map, due to it being such an ethnically diverse and multicultural group.
The group were invited and encouraged to bring in food/cooking items each week to show the rest of the group, prompting discussion. Here one of the group members is showing the different herbs and ingredients he uses to cook. Often other members of the group would have different names and uses for the same ingredient. For example, for some a certain plant would be a staple to their diet and to others it would be considered a weed.
The group were asked to write a ‘Food Timeline’, from they’re earliest memories to now. Thinking about certain foods that were linked to specific moments in their life.
Here is an excerpt from Shirley’s story about Paynoose, it sparked an early memory of her childhood
- I’m proud of my heritage. They didn’t have money. We came up from nothing. That’s where the paynoos recipe comes from. I remember as a child a cow giving birth to a calf and the calf is not supposed to drink the first milk. So, you milk the cow and you get the first milk. And my mum would boil it with fresh ginger and demerara sugar. The cow can then suckle on the second milk. I remember eating this at my grandmothers house in Guyana(formerly known as British Guyana), South America”
568ml(1 pint) pasteurised milk
1 level tbsp. (15ml) caster sugar (superfine granulated)
1tsp (5ml) liquid rennet
- Gently heat the milk until just warm to the finger. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Add the rennet. Stirring gently.
- Pour into a shallow dish and leave for 1 – 1 ½ hours in a warm place, undisturbed, until set.
- Chill in the refrigerator and sprinkle the top with a little grated nutmeg to serve.
Note: it is important to use only ordinary pasteurised milk for junket making. In order not to kill the rennet enzyme, care must be taken not to overheat the milk, nor to cool the junket too rapidly.
Each week the group would gather round a central table, as if each week were a feast. As the weeks progressed more of the group members would bring items to show and tell, even bring fruits and bread for the other members to take home. As they sat and listened to the stories being shared, they were encouraged to make notes in the journals they’d been given them.
After sharing such a variety and range of stories and tales, each person had to choose 3 that they wanted to include in the recipe book. They drew on inspiration from some cook books they enjoyed for ideas on what would work in a cookery book. These stories would sit alongside their recipe and show why each one was chosen. Here is Regina’s story of her Potato pancakes –
I used to often cook potato pancakes for meals in the evenings and my daughter started to notice me doing this, when she was around 7/8 years old she asked me why do you cook this in the evening? I said, ‘because it helps me relax’.
When she went to junior school she started doing a lot of sports and her first year of competing when she was beaten in a running race. After this she said, ‘I won’t let this happen again’, and I said ‘eat these pancakes’. So, she would train in the morning and evening and would always eat these pancakes and the next year she came fist in everything, running, jumping, many different events, And the next year the same and the year after, the other parents would come and ask me what a fed her. She ate them every day, and I got tiered from the grating, but she grew up to be tall, 5’11, taller than me.
- 8 medium Organic potatoes/red potatoes (more flavour0
- Flour (preferably gluten free e.g. buckwheat, rye)
- 1 egg
- Olive oil
Peel potatoes, then grate (preferably using a plastic grater). then place in sieve and separate juice. Then leave the juice for 5 to 10mins so the starch settles and then you put the juice back with potatoes but without the starch. Throw away.
Potatoes are in a bowl, then add 2-3 tbsp. of flour to thicken, then add a pinch of salt and 1 egg(beaten), then leave to stand for another 10 minutes.
Then heat some Olive oil + butter mixture in frying pan on a medium heat, then add separate tbsp.’s of the mixture, about the size of your palm.
After 3-5 minutes turn individual pancakes, they should start to brown on both sides, then they are ready. Be careful not to overcook.
Dr Sindi Gordon used different ways to make the group to feel comfortable and to spark old memories. In this session each person told the group their favourite song and why. Some of the stories were sad, some extremely happy. It got the group singing and dancing altogether!
To celebrate the creation of the final recipe book, a feast was planned. This would give the group the opportunity to share all they had created with their family and friends. Together the group came up with the wording for the invite which can be seen below. The group needed a name and they wanted something to represent who they were as a group. They decided on ‘Spicy & Wise’ and you can see the logo of the owl on the invitation.
On the 1st February we held the ‘Feast’ at the BMECP centre. All the group members along with their friends and family gathered to support the launch of the recipe book. The room was decorated with bunting and ornaments, there was music and best of all a buffet of food, cooked and prepared fresh from the book that was launching.
The group shared their stories and the experience of creating the book to an audience of friendly faces. Then it was time for everyone to eat and drink all the wonderful things that had been made.
After the success of the ‘Feast’ and the recipe book the group was keen to continue the Thursday sessions and move on to the next part of the project. The second part of the projected aimed to create Oral Histories that would be recorded and presented as an exhibition. When a story is written down, some details and nuances can be lost, by recording a story you capture all the emotion and sentiment of that person. The group felt this was important as oral histories are so important for those who never told their stories ‘we can tell our story instead of someone else saying what we think’.
As the oral histories would be generated from interviews between group members, in the workshops the group looked at interview techniques. How to create a comfortable and open environment for the interviewee, what are interesting and open questions that would give the same response.
We used simple but good quality recording devices to record the interviews. The group was sometimes split into pairs or smaller groups to practise.
In addition to the oral histories, the group were also asked to bring in family photos and encouraged to take photos of one another during the workshops. They built up a collection of amazing old and new photos that would later form a collage.
All the oral histories and photos collected by the group were then created into an exhibition that could be shown in different public spaces. The idea was to dress a cabinet with trinkets, photo frames and props that reflected the cultural diversity of the group. The cabinet would be the setting for two radios fitted with the groups oral histories. Headphones linked to the radios allowed the passing public to listen to the recorded stories. The photos were used to make a large collage of family photos that would be hung above the cabinet.
The exhibition was first shown at the Brighton library Museum lab as part of the ‘Untold Stories’-museum takeover. The recipe book was shown alongside the display and members of the group also had a chance to read excerpts from the book and explain about the project.