29 April 2021
PART 1 | THE WELCOME
Aaron Cezar: Welcome to Family Lunch! This April edition marks one year since our treasured in-person meals quickly evolved into a ‘home delivery’, allowing us to continue to share food, ideas and cultural practices.
While we watch in horror how the pandemic rages on in India, Brazil and beyond, here in the UK restrictions are slowly being lifted. This means that next week we are finally able to welcome our first international residents of 2021 who will be joined by three UK associates for a new season of our recurring thematic programme Collecting as Practice. Grounded in the current and urgent discussions around representation and restitution, this third iteration of the programme will explore the agency of artists and objects, unpacking the ways in which collections and archives are shaped, named, maintained and framed.
Today, I am pleased to introduce Renan Laru-an, a former curator-in-residence from The Philippines who shares some of his recent ideas and projects that touch on the potentiality of archives and archaeology. As per the tradition of our lunches, we recommend some sustenance to complement these video presentations – and this month our Deputy Director Salma Tuqan offers her family recipe for Molokhia, a simple dish that is loaded with cultural memory in the Middle East and North Africa. It’s one of many examples of food as both a source of nourishment and an archive of collective experiences.
But before you delve into this Family Lunch, with the UK’s galleries and museums due to reopen from 17 May, I want to quickly recommend Chisenhale Gallery’s upcoming show by Yu Ji to those of you in London. Yu Ji presented our very first virtual Family Lunch this time last year, and her exhibition, Wasted Mud, is informed by the field research she undertook during her residency with us in 2019.
Part 2 | The Food
Molokhia – Salma Tuqan, Deputy Director
Our Deputy Director shares a recipe that was the cornerstone of her childhood
Believed to be the meal of the Pharoahs, Molokhia is a popular dish whose presence traverses the Middle East, parts of North Africa, stretching as far as Kenya. Each place has its own interpretation, each family their own secret twist – some prefer it as a thick stew, others as a fine soup.
The dish takes its name from the green leafy plant that colours it, also known as jute leaves. Simple, yet packed with nutrients, Molokhia was the cornerstone of my childhood. Its heartiness brings me back to endless family meals convened over my grandparents’ dining table.
As we slowly start to peek out of winter, this dish will hopefully provide comfort and nourishment, as well as a gentle transition for those breaking fasting this Ramadan.
3 cups veggie/chicken/beef broth
1 package frozen molokhia*
5-6 garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
*Here I use frozen Molokhia, as outside the region fresh Molokhia leaves are not always available. Packages of frozen Molokhia leaves can be found in most Middle Eastern supermarkets.
Bring the broth to a boil, then add the molokhia allowing it to slowly defrost in the pot.
Aside, in a frying pan, saute the crushed garlic until golden. Stir in a dash of coriander and salt, creating a paste.
Fold the paste into the broth and bring it to a boil one more time, and then you’re done!
Sprinkle with salt, a squeeze of lemon, and fried garlic as desired.
You can serve the soup with rice or pitta/Arabic bread, and add garnishes such as fried onions, pine nuts or shredded chicken.
Part 3 | The presentation
Renan Laru-an – Curator-in-residence, spring 2019
Away from Manila at his rural family home, the curator and researcher presents the exhibition that was the context of his 2019 residency and shares some projects-in-progress which he has been incubating over this past year.