Building mobile kitchens in Montevideo

Lost in translation
Two weeks ago I arrived in the wonderful city of Montevideo with partner in crime Suraia Abud to see how we could translate the idea of mobile kitchens as tools to connect and educate to a local context.
And though a lot of effort was put in preparation, everyone felt the real work only begun on Monday morning  when team “taller Carrito Movil” got together. Differences between academic strategies and activist tactics, discussions about goals and purpose of the workshop,… Nothing problematic but a careful exploration of our new friends.

Monday night, go time: presentation of our mutual home projects and of the outline of the workshop for the rest of the week.
30 new faces with very varying expertises all listening intently. And immediately over to action.
Determine the basic requirements for Montevideo kitchens, their function and the way they could work.
A beautiful moment for two reasons:

  • first of all the wonderful insight of the different workgroups in what exactly this action could mean. How the kitchens are a tool in a bigger story. Cocinar para compartir.
  • Secondly this was also the moment that the “teaching” team came together, trusting each other in their enthusiasm, energy and qualities.

The rest of the week ran like a train. From big ideas to wonderful objects. Developing game plans for guerrilla  cooking actions, through stories about connecting without judging and how to manage food waste.
Designs were shared and discussed on the tones of Daniell’s whistle. Some groups grew, others shrinked, all for the good of the idea.
Designs became more elaborate. And every so often someone said that the time was too short to finish. But as time flew by tasks got more concrete. Some ideas were scrapped, others were added. And everyone got their hands dirty. Communication goeroes learned how to grind steel, Nutritionists became expert sanders,… a wonderful display of energy, purpose and devotion.

Amado pero …
In the mean time we had conferences, reckon missions to markets and had meetings with people in different fields.
Some of these were very pleasant and inspiring (Mercado Modelo, Redalco,…) others were slightly disturbing.When public servants begin to sabotage plans and projects just because they feel left out, questions should be asked about what public service exactly means.
As these things tends to go, all was resolved in the end by a phonecall from the right person to the right person. But let’s not forget and keep fighting for what we believe in.

Till the end
People running in all directions, stress levels going up and hands moving fast. Just the way I like it.
A room full of people with a very clear goal in mind and no one willing to give up. No more questions to ask, only to-do lists to check off.
Building, assembling and fixing with or without alambre. With señor Gabriel Deber in the role of multitasking superman. We finished at 6AM which gave us the much needed rest before transport to the market at 7AM.

Do it now
Saturday came and Mercado Modelo was conquered. With the gentle helping hand of wonderful host Pablo Pacheco we showed what was possible in one week. Gathering people around an idea, building two working prototype kitchens and convincing an army of partners to add their 5 cents.
About 60 people cooking, sharing and enjoying. Even more looking curious, wanting to explore and know more. Sharing healthy food with everyone who wanted a plate. A rather busy week, but what a beatiful one.

No excuse
Now everything is there.
Don’t let it be lost.
But even more important:
You’ve got what it takes
designers and builders,
cooks and nutritionists
market places, partners and interested municipalities
academics and activists
love all around
I was surprised by the opposition we met in this week, but more so by the acceptance of the Uruguayo’s that this was the way it worked. I spent my week with wonderful, ambitious and very smart people all with a very clear idea of what had to happen. I refuse to believe that this force can be held back, maybe slowed down, but never held back.
So there is no excuse to not take the next step. And then the only way is to go into the world and see what works and what doesn’t.
Try and fail, but always try again.
And let me know how it goes.
Thank you to everyone involved for having me, it was a delight
Pictures of the kitchens can be found on our Instagramaccount here.