HOW HAS YOUR BACKGROUND AFFECTED YOUR LIFE/ WORK?
My memories start in the kitchen and at the dining room table. Sneaking pats of butter, taste testing oxtails, and smashing garlic in the mortar and pestle. The smell of liver frying downstairs Saturday mornings and picking out all the saltfish out of the ackee Sunday mornings. Music was always present - the sounds of Gregory Isaacs crooning Lovers Rock and watching my mother sing every word (off key, albeit). “I know this little girl her name was Maxine…” dancing to Chaka Demus & Pliers, “ Murder She Wrote.” During Labor Day Weekend, we’d pack up and head to Brooklyn to Miss Monica’s house on Carroll and Washington and listen to the steelpan competitions from her living room window. Roti, Curry Chicken, and Pelau on the stove and droves of people passing through, with the heaviest Trini accents and quickest wit. We’d wake up glossy eyed at 4am to head to J’ouvert. The excitement of the weekend, celebrating a holiday of Caribbean pride, that none of the kids at my school even knew about. ( I didn’t even know Labor Day was not synonymous with the West Indian Day Parade to the rest of the world.)
This is how I was fed my culture. These are the ways I was nourished into community. Though it was always a constant in my life, until just recently my heritage was only relegated to my home. In the white world I grew up in, it occasionally reared its head when I had to explain my ethnicity or curly hair to a classmate - who had never heard of Trinidad or only knew Bob Marley. Now, as I grow into the woman of my dreams, I am heading back to the kitchen to unravel and understand the love language given to me.
Kit an’ Kin is as much of a food pop up as it is a memoir.
I am both chef and student learning from my father, mother, grandmother, aunties and uncles traditional Trinidadian and Jamaican foods while documenting their stories as part of the diaspora. This has allowed me to work closely with my dad and bring the same vibes a Sunday Supper or get together in my home has to the public - intergenerational, cozy, fun, loving parties where you can wine up with whomever you want and feast with the family.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU (UPCOMING PROJECTS)?
I started Kit an’ Kin in the broad umbrella of fetes, food, and music because everyone can relate. The Caribbean has widely reached the rest of the world through their music, reputation for partying, easy going lifestyles, and banging food. Now, I’m ready to be like, “okay class, let’s have a discussion.”
Let’s talk about our blackness. Let’s talk about our history and amazing contributions to society. Let’s talk about how creative and integral Calypso is. Let’s talk about how homosexuality and queerness are often only accepted during Carnival. Let’s talk about fragile masculinity and consent. Let’s talk about decolonizing our foods and actions. And, let’s come out to fete.
I will be collaborating and connecting with amazing Caribbeans across the diaspora , many first generation like myself, whose background has also influenced their life work. Caribbean marketplaces, workshops, reimagining art spaces, and more oral history, film and portraiture documenting my people. We have an amazing opportunity to represent in Detroit, at the Allied Media Conference, a vibrant community using media to incite change. We’ll be facilitating food memory workshops, cooking classes, and hosting dinners with the local farms and Caribbean community in Detroit.
Long term Kit an’ Kin goal is to own land in Jamaica to build a center for food, arts, and agriculture that serves as an educational space and vessel for creation. Artist and Chef residencies, youth apprenticeships, gardening, and lots of Sunday Suppers.
Photo by: José Manuel Girona