Devine and Heath (1999) ’emphasised that research is rarely straightforward, that it is often beset by false starts,’ and ‘initiated with badly thought-out ideas’. I was certainly guilty of both.
In my previous post I detailed my ‘childhood food memories’ idea, which didn’t get very far. However, in addition to asking people on social media to send me photos of their childhood food memory I also gave a workshop. The participants were from Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Turkey.
They had all sent me a photo of a strong childhood food memory, an item of food or a dish. The first activity was for each of them to write their food memory directly onto or around the picture. The participants then showed each other the pictures with the text and explained what they had written. This was followed by the participants ‘drawing their memory’, which led to intriguing pictures. The procedure was repeated and the participants explained what they had drawn.
Below are some of the pictures of food that generated particular childhood memories along with the participant’s thoughts.
‘It’s a compota, the best flavour is peach for me, and I remember my mum bought the compote from the supermarket and give me the compote, me and my sister and together… She give and watch the movie. It’s very good.’
‘I remember when my mum gave me this in a plate separate I got really angry. Always I like that she mix the meat with the mash. I got really angry when she gave me separate. I don’t know why? And when I feel the smell of this, suddenly I remember home. I smell home.’ Venezuela
‘I remember when I was in my grandmother’s house and she always prepared this kind of soup, but always was in the afternoon like a dinner. Maybe I was five or six years. My mother prepared the same but I think in nowadays when I eat this kind of food, I don’t know but it makes me happy, I don’t know why. If I am sad I eat my soup, I can feel happy. I don’t know but I remember my grandmother and father. They died ten years ago, but when I eat the soup I remember.’ Ecuador
‘It’s kind of pastry. It’s main ingredients are flour, potatoes or cheese. When I was at primary school I used to come home and my grandmother said welcome and she hugged me and I used to run to the kitchen and eat immediately this. It reminds me my childhood very clear. It reminds me a little bit loneliness because I used to wait my parents come home.’ Turkey
The second part of the workshop involved the participant’s drawing their memory.
‘It’s a lot of colours because I’m very happy when I eat my compote and watch a movie. I think it’s the best combination. This is my sister and me.’
‘I remember my food with this trip, because my mum before the trip she packed the mash and meat because we went to do a travel around like six towns in Venezuela and she gave us the food, and after that my brother throw up inside the car. I remember the trip like yesterday.’ Venezuela
‘They are my grandparents, or they were my grandparents. It’s my family; my mum, my brother, my father and it’s raining because my mum always prepared this kind of food, I don’t know why. When it’s raining my mum prepare this soup. It’s a clock and I don’t know why I draw this. Maybe because I remember my grandparents and I want to return at this time. It’s sad for me. I want to return to my grandparents. I put my age here (21) and it’s 5 and 6 (pointing to the drawing) because I think was this time. My soup makes me feel happy.’ Ecuador
‘She’s my grandmum and she is me (pointing). After school my grandmum bring me to go ballet. I used to do ballet. And after course we went to Europe side of Istanbul with boat and she bought me ‘simit’, Turkish traditional snack and I shared my simit with seagulls and after came home and had afternoon tea.’ Turkey
One hand from each participant.
Thank you to Felipe, Grecia, Belen and Esra.