Throughout 2018, the residents of Valdezarza saw how the square in their neighborhood was being refurbished and finally got the name they had been claiming for so long. Thus, what until then had been popularly known as the “Plaza del Ahorramás”, was officially renamed “Plaza Lugar Poetas”, a name that pays tribute to the memory of the neighborhood itself as, for years, it hosted intellectuals and poets in its streets and squares.
From Cocinar Madrid – one of the legs of Haciendo Plaza project, which is part of Imagina Madrid, an Intermediae program promoted by the Culture and Sports Area of the Madrid City Council, which aims to explore new forms of intervention in the public space and imagine the city we want to live in -, we had the honor of accompanying the neighbors of this neighborhood during these months of changes in the square, using the kitchen as a tool to know what was being cooked in the neighborhood. To do this, in the month of May, we built two fabulous new kitchens with the help of Enorme Studio and the neighbors of Valdezarza, which we premiered in style in the square in July.
Through the different workshops that we have organized both in the Plaza Lugar Poetas and in the Guatemala Community Center – currently home to the mobile kitchens – we have tried to trace the culinary memory of the neighborhood, we have explored the relationship we have from the city with the countryside, we have connected districts and established alliances with other projects that took place in Madrid, such as children’s workshops held with the Mico Collective or the Grigri Pixel program.
Over all these months, we have learned that, when it comes to cooking, everyone has some knowledge to share, we have shown that cooking can be a great tool for revitalization and neighborhood meeting and, above all, we have enjoyed cooking and eating together in the street.
During a weekend of June, we built the two mobile kitchens and a colorful sunshade with which to protect ourselves from the sun on the hottest days. From early on, Eugenio María De Hostos Public School was filled with activity: the members of Enorme Studio organized the construction materials and tools and distributed the tasks among the many volunteer hands that came to give a hand. The girls of the Mico collective gathered the little ones to propose activities and discover, for example, that the world can be seen in different colors depending on the glasses with which you look at it, or that you can make incredible constructions with fruits. In addition to putting screws, cutting ribbons, painting the kitchens and decorating the sunshade, we also enjoyed a delicious meal. And there, between gazpachos and salads, the neighbors shared with us their anecdotes of the neighborhood.
“cook your story“
In July, we finally released the mobile kitchens! The debut took place in the square with a workshop in which we invited the neighbors of Valdezarza to share some anecdotes that would help us to trace the culinary memory of the neighborhood.
To do this, we asked them some questions: Where were you going to have an ice cream when you were little? And to have a picnic or take the vermouth on Sundays? In which places did you use to make the purchase? Who is your trusted shopkeeper? And your grandmothers’? This workshop was where the already iconic shout of Valdezarza a la mesaaaa!!!! (Valdezarza at the table!!!) was born!
“cook your garden”
50 kilos of vegetables (from the garden of Remi in Polán, Toledo), more than 60 people of all ages, two kitchens, a few pots and we were eager to learn, count and cook. This is how the day of Saturday September 15 in Valdezarza began, where neighbors told us about their relationship with the orchards, the countryside and crops in general, and in which organic vegetable producers also came to share their experiences. One of the core ideas of Cocinar Madrid workshops is culinary improvisation, thanks to which we could enjoy a delicious recipe of sautéed cabbage with grated carrot and garlic prepared by Isa, a neighbor of Valdezarza; and the incredible baba ganoush -made with eggplants from The Orchard of La Morera- by Anwar, a Lebanese neighbor from Tetuán neighborhood. The youngest, together with the Mico collective, built a greenhouse and drew vegetables. As a souvenir of the workshop, each participant took his own pot with planted seeds. And before eating, Javi (from the Los Esquimos project) and other musicians animated the square with a dulzaina concert.
“cook your poetics”
Rain was threatening, so for this workshop we had to change our beloved Plaza Lugar Poetas for a place under cover. And what a better place than what would end up being the final home of mobile kitchens: the Guatemala Community Center, in the district of Fuencarral – El Pardo. For this workshop, we had some very special guests: the participants of the Grigri Pixel festival, which was held in the capital on those same days. While we got down to work to prepare the menu, Keba, one of the artists of the Grigri, was asking people about curious or funny anecdotes that they had experienced around the kitchen. Between culinary stories and cooking tasks, everyone took a place to write some verses to the neighborhood of Valdezarza. This workshop was dedicated to the new name of the square, so we wanted to pay a poetic tribute by creating an exquisite corpse of verses written by the participants. For her part, Mama, another of the Grigri artists, was encouraged to prepare the famous bissap or “Senegalese wine”, an alcohol-free drink based on an infusion of hibiscus flower that was a success during the meal. Sara Fratini was portraying the whole day and left us some wonderful drawings.
“cook your district”
Between hot chocolate and roasted chestnuts, we spent the last day of our workshops. Since the Guatemala Community Center had become the home of our beloved kitchens, we wanted to do a workshop that would serve to unite the districts of Moncloa-Aravaca and Fuencarral-El Pardo. We had neighbors from both neighborhoods and some unexpected guests: the boys and girls who came to spend the afternoon in Guatemala with their monitors and who ended up joining the workshop, proving to be incredible kitchen helpers. With all the participants we talked about what they like to eat and cook, about what their culinary specialties were and about those recipes that had passed from generation to generation in their families. We also asked them to write us some of their favorite recipes. Before we sat down for dinner, we could not miss the shout of “Guatemala, at the table!!!!”