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April 24, 2017

Food for Thought: Stories from Young at Arts

A new Time to Shine programme is bringing together two things you might not automatically match up: art and food. 

The new programme, Food for Thought, is being delivered by Young at Arts and I was lucky enough to be invited to the first session.

Approximately 15 people came along to Armley Real Junk Food Project. Working with poet Christian Watson, we talked about some of their least favourite delicacies and shared memories associated with them. Tripe, offal and rice pudding featured heavily, attracting sympathetic nods from around the room, with one member surprisingly adding ice cream to the list! 

For the remainder of the session we worked in groups to choose food-related words which would then be turned into a poem. Talking about food was interspersed with eating food as a delicious three-course meal was served to us by staff at the Real Junk Food project. 

During the next session, participants turned their attention to some of their favourite foods, and crafted works associated with those memories. Theresa reflected on a special indulgence from her trips to Spain:  

Favourite meal, by Theresa Domene

Sunshine reflecting on the sea and laughing children running around, jumping in and out of the pool. We settle into our comfy seats, glasses of Sangria in hand.

It’s Calpe, the Costa Blanca and we’ve once again come for our Maricada Variada. It’s a big treat whenever I’m in Spain, and it is very expensive.

Everything is grilled.  Huge platters of seafood; gleaming prawns in several sizes(my husband says that the red ones are bait, but I like them all), glistening, fresh sardines sprinkled with parsley and lemon, bowls of tiny, crispy fish, cuttlefish, a few tentacles of octopus, the claw of a lobster, and baskets of crusty bread and pots of garlic mayonnaise to dip it all in.

The best meals make for messy fingers. The children love it, though they play with the tentacles more than is necessary.

For me, it’s a time for the family that lives far apart to come together and share the memories we shared and the moments we’ve missed in the last year. There is noise and movement and bustle everywhere. Waiters dance through the crowds. And the crowds are chatting. And the people are laughing. And the music rides through this memory of sights and sounds and smells and tastes that I will carry with me until the next time we sit here together.

For me, it may be delicious, it may make my mouth water just thinking about it, but it’s my favourite meal simply for the company of my family, the laughter of my grandchildren playing with their new friends, and the sun shining down on us all. I could be eating anything, and that’s what makes it nothing but perfection.

For more information about the Food for Thought programme, please contact Shabina Aslam: