Cooking with others is a great way to share and learn knowledge and skills, and to build friendships. Since being at the British School at Rome as the Ampersand Foundation Fellow 2022-23, I have met food writers, fellow artists working with food, food producers and food keepers, and cooking together has been a great way to share experience.
When Rachel Roddy, food writer and author invited me to her home to cook with her, I was a little nervous of the thought of spending one-to-one time with someone I did not know, and also I was in awe of, (having read and loved all her books).
As soon as we started cooking together, I felt totally at ease as we shared in our experiences. A natural flow between chatting, making and eating. Talking as we shaped orecchiette and cut vegetables, broken by comfortable silences as we concentrated on rolling out pasta sheets and timing boiling water. We watched each other’s hands tackle tricky tasks, exchanged food knowledge, (although of course Rachel, is the expert here), empathized through personal narratives (the common difficult family relationships,) and enjoyed eating our accomplishments afterwards, joined by her son and husband.
I have also been cooking with artist Liza Dieckwisch, who is based at the German Academy in Rome. She has a similar approach to food as I do, engaging with food in many different ways, then absorbing the experiences into our art practices.
Both finding it frustrating not to be able to access kitchens in Rome; due to health and safety restrictions; to get hands on experience, such as to be a volunteer in a pizzeria, or work in a bakery, we have decided to meet up and cook together. Bringing our wealth of hands-on material experience into the kitchen, in a chaotic but very productive way.
Understanding how fulfilling these ‘cooking together’ sessions have been in Rome, I plan to continue them when I return to London in the summer.