On Our Relationship with Spices and Treasuring The Heritage Cooking
Kitchen definitely has significant roles in our daily lives, especially for those who value foods more than something to eat, but has deeper relationship than that. It’s where the good relationship begins, and it’s where the bonding stays longer when the plates are empty, it’s where the kids coming back to after living away from home, because a home is where Mom or Dad’s cooking.
We captured these good moments and our curiosity what’s actually behind the Anton Ismael– an Indonesian photographer and Kim Ahn Doan a Vietnamese food stylist’s mind when it comes to their relationship with foods while having them in our Akaraka Open Kitchen.
WHAT’S THE INGREDIENT OF A GOOD LIFE?
Anton : A balanced. If you inhale, don’t forget to exhale. So, when we are talking about photography and cooking, you need a balanced. That’s the ingredient.
Kim : Patience
AS PHOTOGRAPHER/ FOOD STYLISH, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT TO CAPTURE OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOODS?
Anton : As a photographer and cook, I found an interesting experience how foods can make us unite, lead to discussion and finally turned into a discovery…. or it could just someththing that make us keep quiet and enjoy the food. I prefer the first one : the food that ignited a discussion, therefore I am very happy to make an appetizerrrrrr….
Kim : Natural Light
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH A KITCHEN? HOW IMPORTANT IS THE KITCHEN IN YOUR LIFE AND ITS ROLE WITH THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU?
Anton : A kitchen is like my art laboratory / workshop. The kitchen should be open for people to learn something and open for discussions that leads to a discovery. It should be a place where we are not afraid to make mistakes. A KITCHEN should be a blank canvas that ready to accept all kind of personalities. All kinds of mistakes. All sorts of possibilities.
Kim : Nowadays it’s very easy and convenient to have a good meal at any restaurant nearby, so many people don’t see the importance of a kitchen in their lives.
The kitchen is my meditation room where I find peace through the cooking process. It is also a studio where I can experiment with different ingredients to create something nourishing and beautiful. I’m not sure about its role with the people around me, but it could be a place where we share the joy of cooking.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH SPICES? ANY PARTICULAR SPICE DO YOU FEEL HAVE STRONGER RELATIONSHIP WITH THAN OTHERS?
Anton : SPICES – understanding the spice for me is about to understand the people and culture of Indonesia. In one Indonesian cuisine, such as a Balinese Sambal, it can use 14 types of spices that reflect the daily lives of Indonesian altogether – a compound / communal / appreciate each other / tolerance (well, we were hahaha ). Each of this spice tastes strong and courageous but they can mingle together into delicious mix! It’s spicy but tastes delicious, hahaha
Kim : Spices and its smells can instantly evoke memories (and emotions). I have a strong relationship with coriander. Coriander can refer to both a herb and a spice. I like to use it in various dishes such as Vietnamese pho, guacamole, salsa… It is also a useful ingredient to garnish the food. It always reminds me of spring! There is a tradition in Vietnam that people boil dried coriander plant and seeds to use it for a hot bath, the meaning is to cleanse your body and start a wonderful new year.
Many people grow up with heritage dishes and as they grow older or living away from their original homeland – slowly find their stronger relationship with them, treasure them instead of take them for granted or treat them as just another daily dishes.
DO YOU HAVE ANY HERITAGE CUISINE THAT YOU GROW UP WITH AND CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT? WHAT KIND OF QUALITY DO YOU FIND IN THEM – THAT MAKES YOU FEEL FALLING IN LOVE OVER AND OVER AGAIN OR MAYBE EVEN COME BACK TO THEM AS COMFORT FOOD?
Anton: Heritage cuisine – my childhood memories were made when I went to a village in my grandmother’s place, I was awakened by the smell of a wood smoke from my grandmother’s kitchen. Everything made with patience and love will always taste good eventhough without MSG hahahaha, that’s why I really like to cook with smoked or firewood techniques. Its scent can draw me into that moment. The smell of smoke immediately pulled me into my village and those memories (Javanese said being ‘grounded’, to always remember where I come from).
There is a story about a best chef in France who travels around the world to find the best cuisine, after a few years he finally found a best cook, a simple soup bowl made by his mother.
A concept of what is considered as a “delicious food” is not controlled by taste, but the deliciousness is a combination of incredible unification between taste, love and memory… but LOVE and MEMORY play the most important role.
Kim : I don’t have a particular heritage dish that I grew up with and can’t live without. My mom didn’t cook a lot and she made very basic, simple dishes when I was younger. As I cook more for myself now, my comfort food is chicken macaronies with mushroom and a soft boiled egg.
When spice brings more loves into life, kitchen nurtures them into abundance source of daily happiness. That’s why, where there is a lively kitchen – there is a happiness.
We feel so grateful to have such a good time at our Akaraka Open Kitchen, thanks for having us and sharing our heritage cuisine together into lovely plates. You may also adore Kim’s food styling work while Anton cooked the Sambal Teri Kampung during our Open Kitchen day here :).
@Akaraka Open Kitchen, August 18, 2017. All photos in our kitchen captured by Anton Ismael.