Mateo Solis Prada
For today’s feast, I have prepared tri-tip (Jay’s way), choripán, ensalada de papa, and for dessert: a Mississippi mud pie. This is the meal my family makes on the 4th of July. We trade the traditional fare of hot dogs and hamburgers for foods that reflect the cultural assimilation, preservation, and exchange we’ve experienced on our journey to become Americans.
Drawing inspiration from Stephanie Shih’s ceramic sculptures and Claes Oldenburg's soft sculptures of foods, I have created one of my favorite meals out of domestic craft materials such as cotton balls, Easter eggs, yarn, and condoms.
An appreciation for craft and for a DIY aesthetic was instilled in me by both sides of my immigrant families. My mothers hail from Argentina and Colombia, and my fathers come from Mexico. I am Latino.
My father’s words always ring in my head: “We’re Mexican, not Mexican’t.” Growing up, I was taught the importance of the earnest work of my hands, often making toys ourselves from supplies we found at the hardware and craft stores. My process for this particular project includes three parts for each dish. One in which I prepared an edible version of each dish for my loved ones. Another where I wrote out the recipe, including the story of why my family makes it and then sent it as a letter to a friend whom I hoped would make and enjoy the dish for themselves. And in the last, I recreated the food using the aforementioned materials. The final piece is displayed as a buffet table ready for all to come and see the foods that my family and I are eager to share.