Creatives in the Kitchen #3

All photographs included in this article belong to Alexandra Macedo. This one is part of the preparation for her childhood orange cake.

Raw materials shape final results in everything humans do. Cooking with great ingredients is almost a fail safe. When I see someone who cares about the materials used in his/her work , I assume the same mindset is transported to the kitchen. This led me to email Alexandra Macedo, owner of MI MITRIKA, who I’ve been following for some years. In her blog, she portrays everyday life in raw calming pictures, with attention to a lot of details, specially the ones found in the streets of Porto, where she lives.

As mother of two already grown ups, now she proudly owns more time to dedicate to her work, “a daily process, once it’s connected with the everyday life”. It’s a fact that materials rule her. “Since the materials for my work, to the produce I use in the kitchen, to the clothes I wear… More and more do I try to consume less and more consciously”.

Maybe a reference to Bordallo Pinheiro’s cabbage bowl?

I would say Nature is something captivating to her, because you can spot some golden leaves or acorns matching the colors of the necklaces and bowls she creates. Alexandra grows some food, constricted to the limits of a small backyard. Although it’s just a tiny thing compared to what she would like to do, “being able to sow and harvest in the center of a city certainly gives a special flavor to the whole process”.

Every now and then in her blog, she mentions some recipes and food rituals connected to family history and so I ask her what are her dearest edible memories. “I remember seeing my grandmother cooking lamprey. Every year there’s a lunch in which we eat Lamprey “à Bordalesa” (Portuguese typical dish), now cooked by myself. In our family picnics, we always had green eggs and, on Christmas, “mexidos” (typical Portuguese Christmas sweet made of old bread, nuts, and dried fruit)”. But ultimately the memories are associated with the act of cooking, the sharing of knowledge and the presence of her closest ones. “Sitting at the table is a ceremony and I always try to make it joyful!”.

“Making marmalade is an act of love” is the title of one of her blog posts. The quinces came from her father’s tree and she turned them into this vibrant sweet spread, that she used to see her grandparents make together.

Although those traditional dishes are part of her memories, daily she cooks very simply, using mostly seasonal vegetables and fruits. This was also something she practiced at a space she used to own, Avesso. “With no professional cooking skills, I tried to make everything based on the knowledge I had. No huge ambitions — just caring about using good quality produce prepared simply”. She then concluded these are actually the guidelines she tries to follow in everything she makes.

She admits she had never thought about the similarities between her way of working and cooking until I ask her and notices that the working method — and even the lack of it (something I really appreciate in the kitchen, actually) — are the same. “I’m quite intuitive, I like to experiment and to be surprised. I like the challenge of working with few resources, trying to overcome the limits dictated by the materials. Most of the time, I let myself be driven by them until I reach the final product”.

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