Over the coming weeks before Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2018 commences we are sharing short interviews with some of the youth delegates and other Scottish food leaders attending the biggest global gathering of food communities in the world!
Next up is Deborah May, a passionate food activist who focuses on engaging with diverse cultures and communities through her shared table experience and social enterprise Küche – ‘A Multicultural Kitchen for All’!
What’s your happiest food memory?
This is really strange but I really remember being very young and going for a massive hike with my parents- my parents are big walkers and would always take us up Munros and mountains in really bad weather conditions when we were really young and often it was quite tough going for me and my siblings and our small legs.
Anyway I really remember having this stressful day of walking and me and my siblings were so knackered and we got back to my grandma’s (Oma’s) house really late at night and we were so hungry and she made us this basic dish of spaghetti and butter and I found it so so delicious. My grandma’s cooking is great like that- she can make super simple dishes into something that tastes so good, so so hearty – you know when you eat something and just feels so warm and loving!
What originally inspired you to get involved in your work?
People inspired me to get involved in the work that I am doing now. I wouldn’t have done what I am doing now if I hadn’t met these amazing people from around the world who call or are making Glasgow their home and who have such an incredible sense of hospitality and who have such interesting food stories to share. They are the inspiration, I am just helping to facilitate it.
How are you helping to or hoping to build a better food system?
I think Küche’s work is very in touch with food from a social perspective but I do realise that we need to have a more concrete food opinion/ethos in terms of our aims in building a better food system. I think that going to Terra Madre will be hugely influential in enabling us to develop this food ethos. I do think that having worked with so many different cooks, people from so many different backgrounds and ingredients from around the world we can offer a diverse perspective.
My hope is to create a food offer that is ‘considered’ in all matters – creating a food ethos that considers food and politics, local trade but also supports international trade, fairtrade, an appreciation of budgeting when buying food, vegetarian cooking but also a belief in eating meat and a support for the farmers, butchers and all the other beings involved in the meat trade. So many things to consider it is overwhelming! I do think it is too simple to believe in just one way so I would like to build a stronger food ethos for Küche that takes into consideration all these different areas.
What’s the most pressing issue in food and agriculture that you’d like to see solved?
So difficult! I think the most pressing thing that I can relate to is just our current lack of interest in cooking and the process of making food. If we have a bigger cultural interest in the practice of cooking then we can maybe take further steps into the world of food and agriculture but at the moment I think if we really want to create change then surely we just need to get people more interested in the beauty of making food and sharing food with others.
How can we best stimulate young adults curiosity about food and agriculture and encourage their participation in building healthier food systems?
Make it fun and sociable! (Not preachy!)
Who are your food heroes?
My Oma, all the cooks that Küche has worked with, and I also really like what Zena Saro Wiwa is doing. I also just bought Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients Recipe book and I think it is great.
Which of this year’s Terra Madre themes most relates to your work and why?
Food For Change. Küche is unique because we provide experiences that discuss the anthropology of food, we provide a shared table and a humanitarian and activist space, we look to engage everyone and anyone and we ultimately look to provide empowering work opportunities for our society’s multicultural community. Our food-led events look to create change by providing opportunities for the people to be more socially and culturally informed and react responsibly and with empathy to our social world at large, using food as an opportunity to discuss local, national and international issues.
If you could travel to one country in the world to experience their food culture where would it be?
Great question but so difficult. I would love to experience Mexican food in Mexico. Mexican food I think has been really distorted here in the UK and we don’t have a big Mexican migrant community so we only really know what is offered to us in the supermarkets. Whenever it was my time to choose what we got to eat at home when I was young, I would always ask for fajitas – ‘Mexican food’. I also remember as a student people would always make ‘Mexican’ food because you can buy the fajita packets and sauces so easily and although its all so delicious I bet we are missing out on something. I make my limited understanding of ‘Mexican food’ probably once a week but I would really like to experience and understand Mexican food properly!
You might not know this but…
The more I work in the ‘food sector’ the more I shy away from cooking!