Spices from lands afar and stories embedded within… in a language of love!
If my father were alive, 1st October 2004 would have been my parents sapphire wedding anniversary. Undeterred by his physical presence, I marked it never the less: 45 dishes prepared with 45 ingredients for 45 guests, all cooked with love! Commissioned and hosted by home lush wedding images and autobiographical glimpses created an intimate setting. Each dish burst forth with unexpected tastes, spiced conversations and much merriment and laughter. My mother did not attend the event as she thought it was a bit weird to be celebrating without my father, even though I was sure he was there mingling with the guests. My sister and mother participated by making some dishes and mum recorded a flying kiss on camera. Once the guests understood why my parents weren’t there in person, brimming with emotions they wrote thank you messages for her and took back home recipes with them.
1st October 2011 Melbourne
Now that Journeys of Love and More Love is being presented at the Melbourne Festival, , motiroti in association with Multicultural Arts Victoria wanted to create a food workshop by inviting people to share food. What better way to celebrate our differences than by sharing what our journeys have been, what we eat and to taste the otherness. To understand why people wanted to be part of the food sharing workshop a few questions were posed, to understand the interest of the participating guests, and enable us as hosts to understand their expectations. MAV received more interest than we could accommodate so we selected the first twenty.
Besides as being the same date as my parents wedding anniversary yet again, it was Grand Finals that day. Don’t ask how we arrived at selecting the date but I had a vague anxiety of all ready to go and no guests! On the question of quantity to be cooked, my guideline was 30 spoonfuls, approximately one and a half tablespoon each dish… multiply it times twenty and belly is full!
Having flown in just a day before and still sort of jet lagged, with the help of Anna and Jessica from Melbourne Festival we had made the space welcoming for the guests. Daybreak Films set up their gear to video short interviews adjacent to the main room where tables were laid out. The first of the guests arrive ahead of time followed by a steady trickle arriving with big containers. Soon we had to add more tables on which to lay out the food. We all introduced ourselves and charted how our journeys had brought us together around the table. I wanted to film people for the camera and to tell me what they had brought, once we had done that, I wanted people to guess the dishes rather than a description by those who made it. We started filming in the room prepared fro the purpose but the introductions to the camera were taking too long, so on popular request and demands of hungry bellies, we started with the savoury dishes. People described the dishes they brought, the influences, the stories just poured. We listened and ate in rapture and talked more lucidly. Seble donned a traditional Ethiopian white cotton dress with coloured woven borders, and prepared the ceremonial roasting of the coffee beans over a charcoal stove coaxing their aroma, grinding it and then serving it to all the guests.
Difficult in that we still had to film! We continued however in the other space, the rising sound levels telling us, conversations were getting deeper. Graceful and gracious… with bellies tickled, tastes ignited and curiosities satiated, we learnt from each others differences and eventually said our good byes – inviting them over for the dress rehearsal.
This short video is just a mere taster of the extraordinary few hours we spent in each other’s company… a diverse group made up of educators, artists, students, performers, community leaders, caterers, chefs and above all open minded passionate people who love to share. From now on 1st October will have a whole heap of beautifully rich associations for me!
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for making the day so special and extending such a warm welcome.
Wouldn’t it be a great if we collated all the recipes here too?