St Pauls residents share recipes to feed into food-inspired street artwork

By Ramona Andrews

Bristol Going for Gold’s Content Coordinator, Ramona Andrews, meets some of the partners of the ‘What is your soul food?’ project, which will celebrate and reanimate community spaces in St Pauls with artwork inspired by local residents’ cookery. The partners are working hard to get the message to diverse communities in the area during the pandemic. Food has, after all, always brought people together, even in these times where we cannot be physically close.

Do you have a favourite recipe? What are you craving in lockdown? What meals lift your spirit and bring happiness into your home?

What is your soul food?

These questions are being posed to residents of St Pauls to gather inspiration to visually connect three community centres in St Pauls and the route between them. Local architect Shankari Raj, from Nudge Group, and artists Sophie & Rob Wheeler, from Graft, (who were appointed through an open call) will be responding to the recipes, creating designs at St Pauls Adventure Playground, St Pauls Learning Centre and Halston Drive Community Room.

Bristol charity The Architecture Centre were the lead organisation on a partnership bid for a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) for The Green Way project, which ‘What is your soul food?’ is part of. The aims of The Green Way project are to encourage a healthier, less polluted route through St Pauls, re-connect community hubs with their green space and celebrate the social enterprise food offerings at each site. Glen’s Kitchen at St Pauls Learning Centre is one such enterprise that the project will improve access to, by providing street furniture to gather and feast on outside Glen’s Kitchen.

The ‘What is your soul food?’ community engagement element is funded by match funding from Arts Council England. Partners include St Pauls Learning Centre, 91 Ways to Build a Global City, St Pauls Adventure Playground and Talo.

Public Realm Producer, Georgina Bolton, at The Architecture Centre said: “We were discovering from the partners a real love and joy coming out of the food offering in St Pauls and the diversity, so we thought how amazing would it be to celebrate that? A way of exchanging recipes across cultures. Maybe being able to walk past a community centre and take a photo of a recipe on a wall in a design and then go back home and cook it.

“The artists are still developing how this is going to come out, but we envisage that there will be murals or a representation of the recipes at each site that locals and visitors to St Pauls will be able to experience, and hopefully use to take to their own homes to cook.”

Local residents can contribute a recipe via a Facebook Group, using the hashtag #SoulFoodBristol or by emailing it in. Over 50 recipes have been shared so far – from Kurdish Dolma, to South Indian Masala Dosa, to Shakshuka.

Kurdish Dolma

Social enterprise, 91 Ways to Build a Global City’s mission is to use food to bring people and diverse cultures together. The organisation has reached out to their networks to encourage communication and to build connections.

Founder, Kalpna Woolf, said: “Communities need to unite more than ever during these troubling times. Food is a common language we all share, regardless of background, and helps to bring us together. Whilst we can’t physically meet at the moment, a recipe swap is a fantastic way to share cultures and develop relationships, which we hope to reinforce at our community feast in St Pauls later in the year.”

Naan bread: “2 cups flour, 1 cup greek yoghurt and a bit of baking powder. Mix and let it rest for 10-20 mins. We mixed in sesame seeds too, or any other seeds you like. Brush with melted butter, grated garlic and coriander and fry on each side until golden-brown.”

91 Ways are working with local food groups and schools collecting simple recipes, which they can then send out via social media or in food parcels. Kalpna shared a recipe her father created after moving to the UK from India and being confronted with new ingredients, but still wanting some home comforts. The family call it ‘Jazzy Beans’. Scroll to the end of this blog post for the recipe.

Hibo Mahamoud from Talo has been working with the Somali community on the project. She said it is “unique as it has managed to gather all the key organisations, newly formed or long-established in the same space and ask them for their expert advice on the area.

“The Architecture Centre truly understands that the true success of such a project lies on the community accepting and relating to the proposed changes. The Green Way project has also been an engine to include the Somali contribution to St Pauls through a permanent fixture.”

To add your recipe to the pot, go to the Facebook Group and share either a photo of a written recipe, the recipe typed out, or a short video of you or a family member talking through your recipe. All recipes must include a list of ingredients – method is optional. If you are not on Facebook, recipes can be sent to Recipes must be submitted by Friday 15th May.

Kalpna Woolf’s Indian-Style Baked Beans (‘Jazzy Beans’)

Serves 4
100g butter
5-6 spring onions, roughly chopped including the green tops, or 1 small red onion finely chopped
large handful of fresh coriander, separate and roughly chop the stems, and finely chop the leaves
¼ green pepper, finely chopped 
¼ red pepper, finely chopped
½ fresh red chilli finely chopped (or use dried chilli flakes)
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground turmeric
3 medium-sized fresh tomatoes or 6-8 cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 x 400g tinned baked beans
salt and pepper, to season

Heat the butter in a medium pan on medium heat. Add the chopped spring onions, coriander stems and the green and red peppers and cook until softened.

Mix in the chilli, ground coriander and turmeric. Cook for 1-2 minutes and then add the fresh tomatoes. Cook on a medium heat until the tomatoes melt down (around 3-4 minutes).

Pour in the baked beans and leave to gently cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and scatter fresh coriander leaves over the dish to serve. 

Join the conversation

So, what change do you want to see happen that will transform food in Bristol by 2030? Do you already have an idea for how Bristol can make this happen? Join the conversation now.

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