Open Kitchen: Shapes of Arrival - Scents of Home: Sensorial Workshop

August 10, 2019 - 1:00pm - 3:00pm


Free to members or with admission to the sculpture garden.

Open Kitchen (OK) re-opens its cross-cultural, regional, seasonal food and thought exchange with the public with a series of events that explore the diasporic experience. These participatory events emanate from the project residencies Open Kitchen hosts here in Milwaukee. The Shapes of Arrival events will take place in and around an Open Kitchen installation on Lynden’s grounds.

Open Kitchen residents Patricia Nguyen, John Lee, and Hai Minh Thi Nguyen compose a Milwaukee-Vietnam index of aromas, flavors, and textures in the context of the ideas and beliefs of a diasporic experience. What is the taste of home? The smell? Throughout their residency, the collective will be working on Sống, a cookbook and archival project of the Vietnamese American community of Chicago. Sống translated means to live, liveliness, and raw. Sống is an active verb reflecting the liveliness of the people and stories that will be featured in the book. In addition, Sống works with the raw material of people's stories and the fresh ingredients used in Vietnamese cuisine to capture a taste of the homeland while fusing in new flavors. The cookbook will include interviews, recipes, photographs, drawings, and a history of Vietnamese migration to Chicago.

As an adjunct to this collective residency work, Open Kitchen has also invited a group of Chicago- and Milwaukee-based projects and individuals—Inga, Michelin, Kim Khaira, Angela Kingsawan--to a co-lecture and conversation on imagining a sensual archive. This is a Call & Response event.

Scents of Home: Sensorial Workshop
with Patricia Nguyen, John Lee, Hai Minh Thi Nguyen

Scents of Home aims to explore food through scent as a mnemonic aid. In particular, this workshop is focused on bonds created through everyday eating rituals that have kept the community and culture alive and together.

A series of ingredients essential to Vietnamese cooking are presented as fragrant oils. Stories from the Vietnamese community in Chicago accompany each fragrance. Participants are asked to reflect on these ingredients and engage their own sense of memory and identity. The goal of this exchange is designed to help participants understand how food is an essential ingredient in grappling with a history of forced migration and resettlement. Participants may drop in and circulate among four stations:

The following prompt asks participants: "What scents of food remind you of home?". They are encouraged to respond to the butcher paper in any way they choose. It can be through words, drawing, etc.
This station will display the vials that contain the essential oils of Vietnamese herbs. There could be small sheets of test paper for participants to dab onto to smell the scents.
At the base is a drawn map of Vietnam. Several bowls of herbs, each accompanied by oral stories printed on paper, are placed on top throughout the map. The participants are encouraged to hold the herbs in their hands and reflect on how themes around food, home, history, and geography in the context of the Vietnam war can coalesce.
Recipes of traditional Vietnamese dishes and information sheets on the medicinal benefits of certain herbs are displayed.

More on Scents of Home, a project of Axis Lab:

Open Kitchen: Shapes of Arrival Events

Scents of Home: Sensorial Workshop, August 10, 1-3 pm
Common Scents: Edible Installation & Conversation, August 24, 1-5 pm
The Sensual Archive of Diasporic Peoples in Relation to the Naming of Things: A Lecture and Conversation, August 31, 1-3 pm

For more information, click here.

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