Have you ever enjoyed a meal together with friends and strangers alike?
Can you imagine a square hosting a big table that neighbours share for dinner in summer nights?
Is it possible to raise awareness and fight food waste by launching a public banquet prepared out of leftovers?
In recent years numerous initiatives worldwide have arisen using food to challenge the way people engage in urban public spaces. Combining various backgrounds such as art, architecture, activism or anthropology, this interventions have been put into practice without any commercial purpose but holding multiple intentions that range from enjoyment and celebration to education or political protest.
City Cook Book is a collection of initiatives enhancing public spaces by bringing people together through food culture. It aims to explore how food can be an effective tool to both transform our common spaces into sites for encounter and social interaction, as well as to engage with larger issues that shape our everyday urban life. Through its digital platform and its print-it-yourself publication, City Cook Book intents to visualize this phenomena, reflect upon it and inspire other initiatives.
City Cook Book is a non-profit initiative developed by Claudia Sánchez and Íñigo Cornago.
Proyecto financiado por Ayudas Creación Injuve
Project funded by Ayudas Creación Injuve
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Feast on the Bridge ran from 2007 to 2011 as part of The Mayor’s Thames Festival. For one Saturday each September Southwark Bridge across the Thames in central London was closed to traffic for an urban harvest meal enjoyed by over 35,000 people. The emphasis of the project wasn’t on spectacle, ownership or even entertainment, it was simply to explore the cyclical story of food production from soil, reclaim the space from traffic and invite people to take part and share food and conversation.
Feast on the Bridge brought together an interdisciplinary team, from artists and campaigners, fishermen and archaeologists to poets, thatchers and chefs.
People baked bread, learnt to make mayonnaise, decorated cake, churned butter, foraged, gutted fish, made jam, told stories and proposed toasts. There was a mass fruit salad toss made from fruit destined for landfill, pop-up restaurants serving discard fish, a showcase of ethical food producers, local wine, music and dancing.
We collected all the food waste generated, experimented with anaerobic digesters and ran composting and wormery workshops. We tried grape treading, salad hats, apple bobbing, pumpkin carving and collected and illustrated thousands of personal food stories.
Clare Patey is an award winning artist and curator who creates participatory art projects and social spaces. She has worked nationally and internationally on commissions including: the London International Festival of Theatre, Channel 4 (winner of RTS award), Southbank Centre and The National Theatre. She is currently director of The Empathy Museum and part of the Edible Utopia collective creating an urban farm at Somerset House, London.