San Pablo Cookbook- a project for Print Public

a Community Cookbook Project for Kala Art Institute’s Print Public Residency Award and Exhibition, Oakland/Berkeley, CA, 2019

The San Pablo Cookbook is a portrait of the neighborhood workforce through their recipes. The types of recipes offered - recipes being sets of instructions for virtually anything - are as diverse as the workers and businesses along the San Pablo corridor. There’s a Recipe for Tire Change, a Recipe for Lucid Dreaming, a Recipe for a Dance Duo, and recipes for both a Stellar Sex Life and for Love.  There are recipes for food, too, like Isuara’s Flan, Khaled’s Chicken Shawarma, and Shelby’s Vegan Nacho Casserole. They are serious and funny, joyous and sublime. 

Community cookbooks have a long legacy in the United States of identifying and celebrating communities, such as museum docents, church groups and the Junior League.  They have often been used not only for fundraising, but also as collective memoirs of place and culture.  The San Pablo Cookbook is a platform for multiple voices to question and experience alternative modes of belonging. It hopes to incite curiosity among the workforce about itself, and create a unique group identity. 

The exhibition is a large scale installation mapping what “recipes” visitors may find and prompting them to visit the neighborhood contributors while using the community aesthetic of the hand-written recipe. The Book Launch was held at Far Leaves Tea (workplace of two contributors) and invited neighbors to meet each other and take flags to hang at their workplaces as indicators of participation, while it featured food from participating restaurants. The Cookbook is a limited edition of 125, hand printed using polymer plate letterpress on the Vandercook 15” at Kala Art Institute. The books are available at Kala and at the SF Art Book Fair in late July 2019.

Photos by Kala Art Institute and Minoosh Zomorodinia