This “zine” grew from a creative writing piece I wrote about shopping for Pelmeni, Russian dumpling, ingredients with my friends in a New York City grocery store:
Written on the bottom of a recyclable container which my mom used to bring me a fruit salad from Mangia: Beef, pork, onions, mushrooms, flour, egg, water, a scraggled list that was already fading into the cardboard, moist with strawberry juices, the list of ingredients that my grandmother gave me on the phone for my French hosts and this evening’s sous chefs.
It was Thursday, and I had been in New York since Sunday, when I arrived with 50 pounds, 60 x 15 feet, of white fabric pouring out of and ratchet-strapped into my Patagonia duffle backpack. It was intended for a banner, to be stretched across a building, a street? I didn’t know about this, or anything really about Extinction Rebellion that wasn’t in the media. That’s why there were also mushrooms on the list. I don’t eat meat and haven’t for two years, which for me, a former carnivore, is sometimes still shocking.
The Bushwick grocery store is so strange, a clear reflection of the gentrification of the neighborhood during the past decade. You walked into the organic and health food pantry section. Bob’s Red Mill grains in their shiny plastic bags line the right side of the aisle. Flax, Chia, Spirulina, Cacao Nibs, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Raw. The next aisle contains exclusively rice, beans, coffee and corn products; more than half the labels don’t contain a hint of English. My sous chefs, it seems, had become numb to this abnormality; when I pointed it out they just shrugged, not finding it strange that a can of dulce de leche sits on a shelf in between easy mac and vegan protein powder. Maybe this is just New York, and in fact this is not strange at all, but I am the foreigner in this environment.
There was no organic pork, so we bought a pound of the only ground pork they had for just about three dollars – is that okay?
Mix the egg, salt and water in a big bowl. Add flour until the dough is no longer sticky but pliable.
A few weeks later Babushka told me to also add a bit of oil to the dough, to make it more elastic.
I wanted to capture the essence of this moment in a tactile piece which speaks about sustainability but also about collective culture education and communication that happens between friends of different heritage. A disposable container contains 5 individual booklets, 3 with ingredients and filling recipes and equivalent CO2 amounts, a fourth with the assembly instructions, and a fifth booklet with contains the original inspiration writing.