Mateo Solis Prada
My family, like most others, is nothing without our gastronomia. It's how we sustain ourselves, but more importantly, it's how we share ourselves. A carefully prepared snack becomes a group feast, incorporating each other's preferences into the dish, creating new flavor combinations that reflect us as a unit. I love just how hectic those meals can become.
Inspired by the work of Stephanie Shih, who embraces her ethnic culinary language by literally putting it on a pedestal, I sought to elevate the food familiar to my own family and upbringing — a stark contrast from the western lense food is often viewed with. Being raised in Latinx culture, I’m no stranger to the taste and texture of a squishy fish eye or crispy pig intestines. In Picoteo, I put the act of sharing a meal at the forefront. I cooked meals to share with friends and wrote letters with those dishes to loved ones who would enjoy trying something new. I then created a table setting with food sculpture that embodies the same spirit of those joyous meals I had shared. They are sculpted from clay, decorated with craft materials such as brilliant tinsel and googly eyes, and made precious as are the traditions we have to eat their real-life counterparts. The viewer is invited to sit in the chairs, put on the headphones — playing audio collage of food preparation and consumption — and imagine living that experience. At each step, I channel the love present in those shared family meals at home. The one thing I want the viewer to leave with is an appetite that can only be satiated by sharing a meal with someone they love.