Created in 2016, Comida Casera is an intimate event using food and storytelling to connect women and create community. The multigenerational events are a space for friends and strangers to share stories and food inspired by women who remind them of home. The aim of this project is to bring together a diverse group of women from different fields, neighborhoods, ages, and backgrounds to map ideas of home through food and the women who share their stories. Within the current political context of so much conflict and division, the Comida Casera project seeks to celebrate differences, create a shared space of exchange, honor past and present women who have meaningful impacts on our lives, and build lasting connections and community that exist well beyond each event.
Participants are asked to bring a homemade or store-bought dish inspired by a woman - from mother, mentor to friend - who reminds them of home or gives them the feeling of home. At Comida Casera events participants each take a turn sharing their story about a woman who has inspired their dish and who have had a meaningful impact on their lives and their relationship to the shared dish. After each story, the dish is passed to each guest to taste, and the women around the table consume both the food and the story as the dish circulates from hand to hand in an act of generosity and trust among both friends and strangers.
The title of the project Comida Casera translates literally from Spanish to mean homemade food or food from home, it is also used as a way to describe comfort food. As a first generation American with parents born in Cuba and Colombia, in my experience food has been at the root of connection to both people and places of the past who link us with those of the present. The Comida Casera project was largely inspired by my mother and the homemade food she shared as an act of hospitality, generosity, celebration, mourning and tradition.
Although many women have not grown up cooking or with mothers who cooked, I believe we all share a relationship to food and its connection to the concept of home whether it be through a location, a feeling, or a person. The women who have participated in past events have brought dishes based on flavors of sweetness, bitterness, spiciness, sourness, and more as a way to describe a woman’s character. Some women have brought dishes representing a particular place or culture, while others have brought dishes specifically made by or shared with the woman they were describing in their story.