Workshop/research ¡Sanfran, a la mesa!
At the end of last spring, we spent several days walking and getting to know the neighborhood of San Francisco, in Bilbao, chatting with its neighbors and trying to get an idea of what this neighborhood is like through an everyday element such as food. Invited by Sarean and guided by her knowledge of the area, we visited shops such as the Ultramarinos Romaña or the halal butchers or the Senegalese parlor with a restaurant hidden inside. We learned about initiatives such as Kidekoop, Ahizpatasuna, the urban garden of Plaza Corazón de María, Koop SF 34, and its Spice Market or the star culinary event of Sanfran, Rice of the World. We also discovered many stories of the neighborhood – from the past and from the present -, we went to the La Ribera Market to do the shopping and we talked with some of its shopkeepers. We listened to Sagrario sing and Nadia invited us to her house to have tea and sweets. This little-big research and its learnings materialized in the collaborative cooking workshop held in Plaza Corazón de María on June 9 and in a fanzine that was released a few days later.
Now, six months later, we return to the neighborhood with a different activity, which is mainly nourished by the work we do during June and with other contributions. This time, instead of our usual cooking workshops, we wanted to start from the neighborhood voices and use food as a support for their words. Although we originally planned this new “incursion” in the neighborhood as a walk through some of the points we had visited in June, in the end, we were more seduced by the idea of doing this walk symbolically. Could we imagine a walk through Sanfran sitting around a table? Would we be able to draw its streets, squares, and shops on a tablecloth and walk among them using the stories of the neighbors as a guide? How could food help us evoke that memory of Sanfran that we have been collecting through the testimonies of some of its inhabitants?
With this challenge in mind, we got to work these months. Our idea was to bring together some of the voices that we collected in June around this table and invite people to listen and experience how cooking and food can serve as a guide to better understand a neighborhood and its inhabitants. On the tablecloth, the map of Sanfran. At some points, ingredients, spices, herbs, objects, and some simple dishes to set these stories.
As a culmination of this activity, we invited everyone to see the documentary that we were editing and in which we wanted to show a small part of the work we did in June –when we recorded most of the material– and in November –when we made a second trip to make some more recordings and collect video testimonies that we were unable to record during our first visit. This documentary serves to close this part of the process and as a return to the neighborhood, but we would like this culinary tale of Sanfran to continue growing and expanding over time, perhaps in other formats …