Monday, April 11, 2011

EB Community Food Workshops “Stir a Memory” a huge success!

EAST BOSTON: Can you say “pupusa”!? Over 170 people gathered at the Harborside Community Center this past Thursday to celebrate food heritage at the “Stir a Memory” Community Food Series Workshop, sponsored by the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center.

An evening filled with art, food, and lots of chatter over memories, neighborhoods and health, this was one pupusa-sharing experience that feels sure to stick in everyone’s memory!

Artist Krina Patel discussing “food heritage” and her Stir a Memory project

Led by artist Krina Patel, workshop participants were encouraged to create food memory postcards that documented a particular connection to a food-related experience. Explaining her concept of “food heritage”, Patel stated that “Food - thinking about it, making it, eating it and sharing it with others - is a way of re-creating memories. When we recreate memories we ground ourselves. Instead of feeling alone in the world we feel connected.”

The cards quickly transformed individual experiences into a spontaneous public art project on a cafeteria wall, and sparked lots of chatting about yummy times gone-by!

"That’s what was neat about Stir a Memory," said Cait Van Damm, co-coordinator of the series. "The conversations that arise around our cultural and physical connection to food, whether that be in the context of a kitchen, a neighborhood, or faraway home. That’s what the Community Food Series is about."

Over a feast of pupusas, participants were treated to a cooking demonstration of the Salvadoran specialty by Mildred Alvarado of University of Massachusetts Amherst Ethnic Crops Program, followed by a discussion led by Community Servings nutritionist Meghan Ostrander.

Much like Patel and Alvarado, she believes that better health can be found through the embracement of traditional cooking at home.

The Community Food Workshop Series are an opportunity for discussion about food system issues relating directly to East Boston and provide opportunities for participants to get involved in urban gardening and public health initiatives. 

The series is sponsored by Healthy on the Block/Saludable en tu Tienda, an East Boston Neighborhood Health Center and Boston Public Health Commission initiative to increase access to fresh produce and whole grains in corner stores.

The next workshop, happening on Thursday, April 21, will be centered on “Food Justice 101”, and will feature the youth-led E3C crew (Environmental Chelsea Creek Crew) from NOAH.

A gardener-led “Container Planting” workshop will be happening on May 3. For more information regarding the Healthy on the Block/Saludable en tu tienda project or the Community Food Workshop Series, contact Cait Van Damm at 617-568-4028 or

Source of this information: Email from Cait Van Damm (April 11, 2011).