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A fig leaf leading to the main page of works of Mayis Rukel
A mortar and pestle carved out of a tree trunk, with ingredients used to make a dip

Radical Roots Project

External link to the project website


Food is Ancestral Communication Technology

Radical Roots is a community-building art project for and by migrants, Lina Bravo Mora and Mayıs Rukel, using food & storytelling as care from the roots.

Radical Roots project proposes to gather around a portable cooking table; honoring that we all carry wisdom, we can all teach each other, and we can always learn from each other's memories and paths.

As migrants, we want to create spaces of belonging for other migrants. Our goal is to share the pleasure and medicine of food and cooking, be together, and take risks in communication.

The first edition took place in AZC Amsterdam in the summer of 2022.


In the summer of 2022, we brought Radical Roots to its first instalment in AZC Amsterdam with the goal of sharing the pleasure and medicine of food and cooking, of being together, of taking risks in communication to build the foundations of a new home. As migrants ourselves, we want to create spaces of belonging for other migrants. Over a period of 5 weeks, we established relationships, shared and gathered stories and prepared food with our guest chef artists.

The first two sessions were with Anna Celda who brought her mortar and pestle. Gathering around this primordial culinary tool with a variety of ingredients, the residents of the AZC created their own spreads, participating with their own recipes while bringing their own music too. The small greenhouse in the garden of the AZC Amsterdam became the initial ground for us of establishing relationship with the residents.

Our poster of call for participation was designed by Emma van Bokhoven.

Our third session at AZC Amsterdam in the summer of 2022 was with Elena Braida who brought along the recipe of Nonna Laura's Gnocchi. That week we were joined by many of the children residents of the AZC Amsterdam, who helped us make the gnocchi from scratch. Elena shared about her process of gathering recipes during travels.

The fourth session of Radical Roots in AZC Amsterdam took place on August 4, 2022, with Jules Davis-Dufayard's buckwheat galettes, a favorite food for where they're from: Bretagne. At this point, on our 4th week of the workshop, we had already established our regular participants among the residents of the AZC, who joined in at the first moment to help us set up our portable kitchen and stayed throughout the session, becoming a part of the entire process.

Radical Roots was invited by Stichting De Vrolijkheid to AZC Arnhem in the spring of 2023, for a three-day workshop with the participation of the teenage residents of the AZC and their families. Setting up camp in Arnhem, we were joined by Sankrit Kulmanochawong throughout the instalment.

To our first day, we brought different recipes focused on rice, alongside the question: How to share a table? On a table with food widely recognisable in its many different forms, we talked about the meal rituals of our cultures, the words we call the ingredients with, and ideas on how we can keep sharing a table, a surface of getting together with what we bring.

The tablecloth was a central element of this instalment. It later on became the main source material of the publication we created with the participants.

Wrapping up; packing up; filling in and tightly closing up: to be steamed, to be fried, to be eaten raw. To our second day in AZC Arnhem, we brought bao with the thoughts of containers being an essential part of the nourishment itself. Delicious holder of what's carefully chosen to be packed inside. Wrapped to be moved; into a pan, onto a tray, onto a plate. We thought of other food that are wrapped, made with the excitement of what they carry inside. The dinner talks were around what we have wrapped to bring with us as we moved here.

The third and last day of our three-day workshop at AZC Arnhem was about sweetness. It began with a conversation about sweetness of certain words; sharing on our table the words we find sweet in our languages. Having been invited to work with the teenage residents of the AZC this time meant that we had to navigate a small conflict within the participating group, to the best of our abilities. Open conversations helped, and a talk on sweetness was a helpful reminder of the need for solidarity, for finding and building home together. We were amazed by the sweetness that they were able to bring immediately; and the rest of the day went with harmony and promising signs of new friendships emerging. With jars of sweet fruit packed to go home with everyone, we finished assembling the publication Sankrit Kulmanochawong designed with the recipes we used in the past three days. We were told by some of the participants that the workshop meant a lot for them. We even spotted artists among the teenage participants, even before they expressed their desire for pursuing a creative life. The three days we spent with the teenagers left us inspired for the new ways with which we can show up in our future instalments after all we learned and gathered here.

Inspired by Marwa Arsanios' film highlighting the Indigenous farming methods that rely on the Moon, and by the concept of biodynamics farming and its relationship to celestial bodies, and on the footsteps of Mayis' grandmother Emine who had her own methods of communicating with her hazel orchard & learning through them how much nuts they would be gifted that season by those unpredictable friends; the intervention centers the Moon and the cosmic energies that reflect and connect to our soils.

Under a Moon in its Last Quarter phase;
A table set up with 12 bamboo steamers, an ode to 12 sections of the sky with its signs.

In the steamers are mantı, a moist Turkish meal, eaten with butter tomato sauce and garlic yoghurt; a common food for the Ramadan time: a Moon holiday, called "the sultan of the 11 moons".
The towering steamers recalling the plant stems going high, fast, encouraged by the pull of the Moon.
Shredded vegetables alluding to the roots; roots always finding their way towards the gravity. Potatoes and tangy peppers in vinegary strips.
Corn, garden peas, olives as dots lining up celestial symbols.
Blooming wild garlic, leaf and stem. Both fresh and pickled into white kimchi.
Sponge mushrooms, moist and big.
Oceany seaweed salad. Leafy greens, strips of leek, radicchio with their fingers reaching upwards, purple carrots in vinaigrette.
Mirrors bringing in literal reflection too.

Big moist thanks to Erika Sprey for inviting us again to be a part of her brilliant curation.