Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reclaiming the Kitchen Place as Space and Bodily Senses

La cocina, a place of oppression or liberation? This is an interesting question because few will argue, particularly modern day feminists, that the kitchen place is feminized, therefore, oppressive. However, I challenge this notion.

In the kitchen, I do not feel oppressed but liberated, for I reclaim the kitchen place as my kitchen space. Let me elaborate...socially, it has been determined that wombyn have specific gendered roles and one included places her in the kitchen. This means that the kitchen as place is were she prepares meals, cooks, and cleans for her husband and/or immediate and extended family and friends. In the kitchen as place she has no palabra, is passive, and some may say, enslaved. Now, my kitchen is not a place but a space. Meredith E. Abarca author of Voices in the Kitchen calls what I am describing here a borderland boundary zone. Meaning that the kitchen becomes a sacred space within the patriarchal, capitalistic notion of kitchen as a wombyn's place. In other words, I reclaim my kitchen as a space of liberation.

In my sacred space, la cocina, I prepare foods that will nourish the human mind, body and spirit. As opposed to foods that will cultivate into toxicity or disease. In my kitchen as space, I dance, sing, burn sage, collectivise with community, send messages of resistance, engage in critical reflection, fall in love and most importantly, heal. In the kitchen I am a curandera, Tonanztin, a Xicanista.

Food alone is a carrier of palabra. It has many messages rooted in truth which I will explain. The scientific patriarchal culture has determined that ultimate truth is an objective truth which is a phenomenom that occurs as a result of our "higher senses." These senses have been associated with sight and sound or eyes and ears. As objectified senses these are so called masculine, therefore, superior. On the opposite end you have the "primitive" or "lower senses" that have been feminized known as touch, taste and smell. According to social-scientists these are subjective senses or bodily senses which do not contribute to what is truth.

Now, I feel, therefore I know so as a Xicana cocinera I reject this dualism and appreciate the message of truth that manifests through food ways. It communicates by stimulating all of our/my senses: sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. Eating and the social messages delivered stimulates and activates our acute sensory way of knowing. Kitchen as space is liberating and a place to receive empowerment.

In my kitchen space I am most enlightened. I become one, whole, completa...

A Word on...Cocina Popular de Aztlan...a Plant Based Catering Cooperative

This proyecto in rebellion exposes an intricate trenza of colonization by honoring food as a carrier of palabra. Nuestra plant-based foods embody social messages of resistance against the occupation of our bodies, our Aztlan, by patriarchal, imperialist U.S. food traditions and diseases.

Rooted in indigenismo, food as palabra has its own story of conquest and struggle. Yet, it speaks of liberacion y descolonizacion by asking us to remember, remember our food ways--Living in harmony with all of our communities, our relations by honoring and not exploiting or abusing: Land, Animals and Humans. 

In an attempt to promote the recuperation of pre-colonial food ways, currently, we are developing interactive workshops, resources and tools to decolonize food ways as a means to heal our community—people, plants, animals and Mother Earth. These projects are financially supported by our catering services. 

Our food costs are fiscally lower than most colonial food service industries due to strict use of non-dairy, non-animalized products (which continue to sky-rocket in price and keep our community in unhealthy conditions). We also avoid the unseen costs the dominant food systems fail to take into account such as: the environmental and biodiversity destruction caused by animal farming, psychological and exploitative conditions of workers who process and package animalized and feminized proteins (milk, cheese, eggs & female animal bodies), can health care costs to heal ill bodies infected by food related diseases. 

We are currently in the process of building relationships with local natural food growers as part of our solidarity efforts with the CIW and the South Central Farm.