The Food Life

Dishes of the (African) Diaspora on Display at Folklore Project Gallery

By Katherine Rapin | March 15, 2017
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Various cookery and appliances sit on display

Culinary artist Pascale Boucicaut and photographer Adachi Pimentel are gathering stories of African culinary heritage in home kitchens around Philadelphia. Dishes of the Diaspora, on display at the Folklore Project gallery through April, celebrates the cultural foodways of ten cooks with heritage across the African diaspora, including Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Jamaica.

“Philadelphia has a lot of communities that we tend to overlook— people that are from so many different places and perspectives,” Pimentel says, and the exhibit is “a great opportunity to see that.” Curated photographs, cooking tools and audio from cooking sessions portray the ingredients and traditional cooking methods of dishes that keep these communities connected to their heritage. The artists talked with cooks like Iris Brown, from Puerto Rico, who prepared arepas de maíz in her fogón—a wood-burning stove she built in her backyard in Norris Square, in Northeast Philadelphia. The fogón serves as both a community gathering place and an artifact of her Puerto Rican heritage.

“We’re exploring how these dishes hold a history,” Boucicaut says. “It’s important to me to honor the people who are continuing to practice cooking in a way they were taught, and in a way that is important to how they identify themselves.”

The artists plan to continue documenting stories from home cooks of African heritage, and will be moving next to South Carolina. If you can’t catch the exhibit at the Folklore Project, you can view it online.

Open gallery hours are listed here; contact the artists to make a viewing appointment.

Philadelphia Folklore Project
735 S. 50th St.

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