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Comedy, Documentary, Educational
“Cooking is caring” says my mother while she enthusiastically juggles pots and pans preparing a family meal. Using food and passed down recipes, personal history is interwoven with gestures of affection and familial unity. A visual ode to the unsung heroes who repeatedly feed and care for us without asking for anything in return.
Mafalda Salgueiro was born in Alentejo, Portugal. With a background in architecture, she finished her studies and pursued her interests in documentary and ethnography. Using film, animation and drawing, she’s able to tell complex stories about community and tradition using visually compelling imagery. She recently premiered her first short animation documentary Comezainas (Nosh-up), dedicated to the food as a vessel for her mother’s love and personal history. www.mafaldasalgueiro.com
My mother loves to cook. She invites the extended family and, on a whim, fills the table with abundance at an impressive speed and simultaneity of tasks.
The kitchen is her space, where I see her abstracted from everything else and where she expresses herself through the objects she’s surrounded: the plants and flowers, the dishes displayed on the walls, the chicken-shaped knick-knacks, and all things with grapevines to match the row of tiles she so diligently chose. She repeats the same gestures over and over when cooking for us, without ever forgetting the care and commitment with which she prepares the food. From the market stall where she buys the fresh produce until the moment, she places the coriander sprig on the plate. I usually tell her that her friends are those people, many of them older, that she visits every week to buy food or offer rice pudding. She tells me how she prepared dumplings for the first time at thirteen. She bought everything she needed with her own money (she was already working by then), went home, and cooked all afternoon. In the evening, when the family arrived, they were surprised by the feat. I can’t help but marvel at this story, my mother already being a mother, even though she still wasn’t.
Combining my pleasure in drawing with my mother’s, I record and share this knowledge of Alentejo cuisine, passed down from generation to generation. Transporting us to our childhood home, full of memorable flavors and smells, I aim to praise the moments that we often don’t pay attention to, moments full of knowledge and great immaterial value. After all, it is in the kitchen that the palate is educated, habits and memories created, and that we will carry with us throughout our lives.
More than just recipes, Comezainas is a piece of everyday life, of how my mother feeds the cat with the fish leftovers of how she shows me the kitchen and the potatoes she keeps when they look like animals. This is a way of thanking and appreciating my mother because, despite all of this, she always thinks she doesn’t do anything special.