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...


  1. I felt this way for about 6 years now (since coming into consciousness around "decolonizing the diet). however, after reading Abcara, I finally found the language I needed to express it and propose how it's an 'important' part of my dissertation research (i.e. looking at the kitchen space as a 'site' for decolonization of the body activism among the black females in the sistah vegan project).

  2. Absolutely. I'm happy to hear someone celebrating this liminal powerful space.
    A clean, well-stocked and well-attended kitchen is (one of) my first lines of defense against a over-consuming, thoughtless disconnected world.
    I do lots of magic there.
    Thank you- slan leat!