Govanhill Voice caught up with Eva Kourova about her upcoming exhibition in Govanhill Baths titled ‘Alternative Burn’s Supper; Govanhill Munchies’ on Saturday 23rd of January, 3 to 5pm. In conjunction with West of Scotland Regional Equality Council’s Embrace Project and local photographer Lisa Craig.
Hi Eva what was the idea behind this project?
Every year Scotland celebrates the birth of Robert Burns and the traditional way to do so is to have dinner made from traditional Scottish dishes such as Haggis. But what was traditional in 18th Century Scotland might not be the case in 21st Century Scotland, given the development of the country. Especially in towns and cities, people adjusted their menu to food that waves of migration brought. So, Scotland now is more about pakoras, Indian and Chinese takeaways etc. The variety of food available to almost everyone mirrors the richness of the society that is so specific for current time. I was thinking that if Robert Burns was alive, how would his traditional 21st century look like? I thought that maybe as opposed to focusing on the traditional old, we could celebrate the diversity of food that is available to an average citizen locally now, hence alternative Burns Supper.
I also thought that it would be interesting to learn something new about how the traditional foods are made and what utensils are used. So, we investigated this a bit more and discovered some very interesting tools some of which were very specific and some very universal. The results of our research will be available on the day as well. To make those more accessible, we translated the most interesting ones into professionally studio made photographs. We hope that those will nicely add to the atmosphere of the day and that through them will people learn something new or interesting about their own or other peoples’ cuisine and culture.
What food can attendees expect to sample?
We decided to call the event Govanhill Munchies rather than a supper as the afternoon will be structured more bout food tasting rather than about traditional dinner. So we felt to call in a supper might be misleading. We thought long and hard about the right word for this event and the word Munchies kept coming back. But then we came across a problem as we couldn’t come up with a single definition of the word or what it represented. We therefore had to go and research in Glasgow communities, what do munchies mean to them and based on the knowledge of the experts, we then decided what should not be missing in a typical munchie box. We therefore liberated the word from a world of shadows into a piece of art. Hahaha…It will therefore be a mix of food but I am not prepared to say what exactly people will find there.
It will be food that will be either bought locally, produced locally and food that is representing local people. This is the first year that we do something like this so it will be a small scale event but we will be asking people to leave us feedback so that we can build on it for next year.
Also I think that it is worth mentioning that there are many talented people and tasty businesses operating in the area so I hope to use as many local sources as possible to help boost up the local economy and showcase Govanhill local produce. Also, I want to show that together the richness of the area multiplies and can have a very positive and powerful message to others.
For people who want to try some of the dishes themselves using the utensils featured, will there be recipes etc. people can pick up?
We will have some recipes printed there on the wall and handful of copies that people can take home and try themselves because as I said, many of the utensils turned out to be quite universally used around the globe. But we by no means claim that we managed to reach every single piece of equipment used in Govanhill to prepare the variety of traditional dishes. There are apparently around 50 languages spoken in the area. So lets say each language represents a specific culture and each culture has its own utensils and specific dishes. Here you would have to have at least 50 photographs and 50 different food tasters. That is well over our budget. But maybe one day we will be able to do it…
But I can point people to a page that is called Govanhill Cookbook http://govanhillcookbook.wsrec.co.uk/
where couple of years ago we supported Friends of Romano Lav to produce a multi-culti cookbook. We conducted a research amongst Govanhillian households in order to collect as many various recipes as possible again reflecting the diverse Govanhill identity. There is many interesting and tasty recipes there that you can access free of charge. You can also order the book online and its not that expensive and maybe a nice gift for someone that likes to try new dishes from all around the world. And all those can be found in a 2×2 square mile in Glasgow outside. Isn’t it amazing?
Since the project is centred round food utensils and some of their origins and uses, how easy is it for people to pick these things up and incorporate them into their cooking?
As I said many of the food utensils are universal but of those that are not, there are, again, local shops that sell them so I don’t think that it would be too much of a problem for people to get what they need. But you never know – maybe people will give us feedback that they would like to learn from each other how to use the specific tools or that they would like to form a network where they can borrow-lend their utensils to each other? The important thing to remember is that this event is free and welcoming everyone and a first one of its kind and if people like it, there is potential for progress…so I hope that we get plenty of feedback, good and bad, from the visitors…
I would like to thank Bemis who financially supports this event as part of their project Year of Food and Drink.
So join us on Saturday 23rd of January between 3 and 5pm before heading to a more traditional Burns event!
If you would like your community group, activity or business to have a feature article please get in touch with Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org tel; 07903152283.
For those interested I also have an independent blog if you wish to check it out;
and my photo website;