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Lettland: Ein Reisetagekochbuch
Lettland: ein Reisetagekochbuch
(Latvia: a travelcookbook)
Personal project realized in cooperation with N. Kriwy and K. Mc Naughton. It was supported with funds of the EU by "Jugend für Europa", german national Agency for the EU's Erasmus + Youth in Action Programm.
At the end of September 2005 we travelled by car from Berlin to Latvia. During a week we visited Latvian people – some of them from a Russian ethnic origin – in Riga, Preili and Daugavpils. We cooked together at each meeting a Latvian dish: we used the cooking as a mean of communication to talk to them in their private surroundings. How their lives have changed since the independence of the Latvian Republic, which kind of conflicts between Latvian and Russians there are and which influence the political changes in their country have in their lives were some of the topics we focused on.
Our travel and interviews, documented with photography and video, as well as the recipes and diary texts are presented in a book and an installation, which has been exhibited at “Café Kunstraum Propeller” in Berlin.

The travelcookbook was printed in Berlin in a limited edition of 148 copies in June 2006.

The cover of the book was inspired by a candy's wrapping paper I found in Latvia. It was the first time I used a sewing machine with an electrical motor. Well I'm not that old, but before that, I had only played with my grandmother's sewing machine and SHE was old.

For the design of the double bookpages we used different analog ;-P tools and materials such as paper, scissors, glue, pens ... 

... as well as pieces of any interesting material on paper we found during our stay in Latvia.

We photographed our visits using analog cameras and Kodak Portra Films. We included some of the actual prints on the design of the book. The whole idea was to give it an actual diary style.

We even collected some hand written shopping lists by our hosts, as you can see on the picture above.
Once the design was ready, I scanned the single pages and arranged them on the correct order using Photoshop and InDesign. The printed book is 21 x 21 cm and includes a DVD on the last page with films and a html-Version of the book with all texts translated into english.
The original bookpages were presented in an installation at Café-Kunstraum Propeller in Berlin in 2006. During the exhibition I curated a series of events related to Latvia and this project such as a public presentation of the project with a talk, a Latvian vs. German Schnitzel day or a meet a Latvian sofa talk. I am really thankful to "Jugend für Europa" german national Agency for the EU's Erasmus + Youth in Action Programm for supporting this project as a so called Future Capital project; to the team of Café-Kunstraum Propeller for the location and the support realizing the installation (with ideas and manpower) and to many other friends who helped me with flyer design, consultation and emotional support.

These photographs depict some views of the installation at Café-Kunstraum Propeller, with its typically Berlin-Friedrichshain look of 2006. The Café-Kunstraum Propeller does not exist anymore.

We tried to make bring the book to live into a spacial experience and bring some of the recipes we tried in Latvia to Berlin, some of which were cooked for the Volksküche events during the exhibition time.

Article about the project I wrote in 2006 for a danish magazine which unfortunately was never published.
Do you feel like cooking?

Or why three young artists travelled over 3000 Km by car from Berlin to arrive two days afterwards in Riga, having suffered the wild roads of Poland on their bottoms in an average speed of 30 Km/h.

By Beatriz Lanchas

We spend a week visiting Latvian people – including some Latvian Russians – in Riga, Preili and Daugavpils with the idea of making a book with recipes, interviews, photos and texts: a travelcookbook. We had made contact through internet advertisements and acquaintances some months before, asking them if they would like to cook some Latvian food with three strangers in their homes. This was not a problem. People accepted us without any reservations, and every day we cooked a dish together in a new kitchen. Cooking became our mutual meeting place - a mean of communication.
Latvia had aroused our interest because of the turbulent political situation in the country the past years, and we were very interested in knowing how ordinary people coped with these political changes in their everyday lives. While cooking, they told us about the strong conflicts between Latvians and Russians. The large Russian minority have many difficulties being accepted in Latvian society mainly because they cannot speak Latvian which is a demand to obtain national citizenship.
“I studied in Russia, in Moscow. At the “Russian academy for Theatre”. I am an actress. But when I came back here I could not find any job. There is only one Latvian theatre in Riga and they do not want any Russians”- Olga told us.

Next you can read some diary entries and recipes from the book, waiting for you to be tasted. Enjoy cooking!

DAUGAVPILS. 30th September 2005

Anita’s husband told us that only 10 % of the population of Daugavpils were Latvian. This fact and what we read in our tourist guide intrigued us about the town: „Today it’s a drab, post-WWII Soviet creation and so depressing to visit it’s almost a national joke.“
Once there it was soon clear that we didn’t agree with our tourist guide at all, because Daugavpils is not as it described: there is a very special atmosphere in this town. The peace you can sense on the streets of Daugavpils might come from the over arranged town planning. The original order of the town has been transformed by building plots on which nothing has been constructed but small gardens have sprung up. These lighten the view and offer a green rest from their urban surroundings. Most notably there is a beautiful faint light in Daugavpils: it seems as if the sun wants to shower this town with special rays of light.

The house doors in Daugavpils have to be opened with a door code, which only the building’s occupants know. However the buttons where the numbers are written are used up and so it’s easy to get in if you take your time and observe it more precisely.
At Olga’s. Riga, 1/10/05

On Saturday we went to Olga’s place. She is Russian, but born in Riga. She speaks excellent French and has a six year-old son. She is an actress who studied in Moscow, and she told us that the theaters in Riga didn’t want to hire her because of her Russian accent (she also speaks Latvian).


Barley with soft cheese (Feta)
Sautéd vegetables

1,5 L Water
Feta or soft ewe’s cheese
Crème fraiche

Pour the barley into salted boiling water. Boil up and swell gently during 40 minutes. Clean with cold water and stir with Butter as desired. Serve in a bowl with cheese. Roast cut tomatoes with courgette and oregano gently in a frying pan. Boil the cauliflower, sauté it in a separate pan and add to the tomatoes and courgette. When the vegetables are tender, add crème fraiche.

Lettland: Ein Reisetagekochbuch

Lettland: Ein Reisetagekochbuch

A Travelcookbook about Latvia and how the disappearance of the Soviet Union influences its inhabitants' daily life and relations between Latvians Read More