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Food, memory and belonging

I remember in 1987, when I was 9 years old, we were away visiting my fathers family in Spain and my parents announced to me that we would no longer live in Mexico, we were going to live in Memphis, TN. What was supposed to be a holiday departure became a departure forever. I was devastated, for two very clear reasons. My house, which I loved, all details in that beautiful colonial house kept me company. The second was Mexican food, which made me so happy. The Friday night tacos al pastor, the lunch in Mercado de las Quesadillas in Coyoacan, these things were the absolute highlights of my life. How could I live without them?

We stayed in Memphis for three years, then moved again to Chile, to my mother’s family. When I was 24 I moved to France, stayed for 4 years and I have now lived in the Netherlands for 15 years. Looking back on these experiences, I can't really say I fully belong to one of these countries, I have fragments of connections to all of them within me. Food has been essential for me to build a sense of belonging within this journey. I have learned to find foods that make me smile, to recover the memories of those that have made me happy before and to explore new ones building new stories over and over again. I became an interior and product designer. I never forgot the importance of beauty in my environment, influenced by that house and beautiful culture I was so lucky to have experienced as a child. The fearless way of using color and the energy this gives to a person is something that has always stayed with me.

In 2012, living in Amsterdam, I missed a cheese from Chile. In my mind, cheese was a product for industry and farmers, but I still decided to try to make it. I was so amazed and happy to discover I could easily make it at home. It was one of the most empowering things I have ever experienced. I could access memories I thought were totally out of my reach and I could explore cheeses from all around the world in my own house. It was amazing. It was also one of the most beautiful transformations I had seen, milk, becoming curds and then cheese, it was some kind of magic.

This feeling of empowerment and magic drove me to create a design project which I named ‘Shaping cheese’ I created series of porcelain moulds with organic shapes meant to be beautiful objects for a home where cheese is made. They were an invitation to explore the shapes cheese could have and the types of cheeses that could be made at home.

De Kaasserie is the place where I put together my love for design and food. It is the place where my 9 year old self missing Mexican food, can be empowered over and over again building her belonging through cheese and invite others who have felt like that to do the same.