A beautiful and unorthodox cookbook with personal recipes that reveal a lot about the Londoners who created them. WGSN Lifestyle & Interiors Senior Editor Gemma Riberti reports
We are what we eat; and this rings even truer as we become citizens of the world and build our lives in foreign cities, surrounded by other people, other stories, other cultures and other ingredients too. Within this diverse, multi-cultural context ingredients become the raw material to recreate and tweak food recipes that we hold dear, that bring back memories, smells and tastes of a distant home perhaps.
Elia Romanelli, a young anthropologist and documentarist, reflected on all this and decided to narrate people’s stories through recipes, portraying them in their homes surrounded by their “stuff” – the things that accompanied them through their lives and represent them best, with images captured by Ottavia Castellina.
This research could take place nowhere but in London, with its broad range of extreme characters and intricate, unexpected life paths. He focused on 31 people from across the city, covering a range of different ages, social backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures. What they shared, though, is the willingness to open their door to a stranger and share a part of themselves, as well as one or more very personal recipes.
The outcome is a beautiful and unorthodox cookbook, aimed at inspiring the reader to trying out these dishes and therefore getting a deeper, more intimate glimpse of the authors stories. By cooking these recipes you allow these strangers to tell you their stories, they are deeply reflected in the food that you share from the book and thus become somehow part of you.
The editor, an independent publishing house based in Venice, Italy, also contributed to this with carefully curated graphic work adding to the beautiful layout of portraits, stories and recipes that takes the reader on a wonderful journey. In addition to the main volume, there is also a small booklet inside containing all the recipes – perfect to be kept at hand in the kitchen, while the main book can be read and cherished.
Slices of Life makes for a great read, an enticing and very personal alternative to the sometimes inflated cookbooks by star chefs, and – just in time for the winter festivities – also a great idea for a present found at the distributor’s page. Presented at the Art Book Fair in New York, the book is now making its rounds in Italy – as it’s an entirely Italian project – and the rest of Europe.