theEATproject : The oddity and the amazingness of cultural quirks

By Leena Naqvi

In the small university city of Umeå (population: 120,000) in Northern Sweden, ‘the EAT project’ is a public based participatory project. It is an active documentation process of the oral histories of migrant women from all over the world, and vastly different cultures, who find themselves in the city as visitors, students, housewives and professionals. The project documents these women and what they think makes their food taste like home. The secret lies not in the ingredients but in their cultural quirks that come to play when they cook their traditional foods leaving them convinced that is all the sprinkling of magic needed to get the flavours of home!

Following the interviewing and photographing of these women and the foods they prepare from their respective countries, open food workshops are held, whereby the participants interact and experience how to make a traditional dish from the particular woman and what it should taste like according to them. The project has been designed such that during the workshops, the exact recipes are withheld from participants and they are forced to learn by observing the process, interacting with each other and absorbing the cultural quirks to understand what makes Zeynep’s sarmas, Ellen’s dumplings or Marzie’s tahchin taste like the one’s from back home.