Critical Cooking Show - Mutfak مطبخ Workshop - Gold Water: Landscapes of Olive and Olive Oil

Gold Water: Landscapes of Olive and Olive Oil

Mutfak مطبخ Workshop


Mutfak مطبخ Workshop, Gold Water: Landscapes of Olive and Olive Oil, 2020.

Critical Cooking Show
January 2021

Olive trees hold the living knowledge of Mesopotamia. Since ancient times, they represent life, peace, and solidarity in the region. Soil composition and land ownership are tied to their cultivation. Social and labor relationships, families, commons, and cooperatives organize around their farming; the objects utilised in planting, picking, and processing also materialize these relationships. Olives and olive oil are used for care, hygiene, medicine, nurture, luxury, food, fuel, and more.

This living knowledge is managed and interrupted by nation–states in the region. Beginning in the 1980s, grape farming and wine were promoted in place of olive farming and olive oil production in an olive-growing region in Turkey. A massive number of olive trees were cut down, and many families transitioned. In Syria, olive oil has become known as “gold water,” as the best quality produce is too expensive for the local market and exported almost immediately. The management of people’s mobilities and livelihoods intersects with the management of the landscapes of olive trees, throughout the many conflicts in the region.

In Gold Water, Mutfak مطبخ Workshop presents this knowledge in different chapters, held together by the process of making green beans with olive oil—the infrastructure of any recipe in the region. The episode starts in the kitchen of a Mutfak مطبخ Workshop member, and transitions to olive tree gardens in Kilis and İdlib, Oylum Höyük Archaeological Site, and the Museum of Archaeology in Gaziantep, while interviewing farmers and other experts. Gold Water follows the protagonist making the recipe, and introduces the significance of olive trees and their produce in the archaeology, ecology, landscape, daily life, and politics of Mesopotamia.

Critical Cooking Show is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and the Istanbul Design Biennial within the context of its fifth edition, Empathy Revisited: Designs for more than one.

Land & territory, Economy, Nature & Ecology
Food & Cooking, Middle East, Plants & Forests
Return to Critical Cooking Show

Supported by the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Istanbul and UNHCR.

Critical Cooking Show is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and the Istanbul Design Biennial within the context of its fifth edition, Empathy Revisited: Designs for more than one.

Mutfak مطبخ Workshop was founded in Gaziantep in 2015, by women from Turkey and Syria. Promoting a space of proximity and collective decision-making, the Workshop focuses on the idea of the kitchen as a cultural space and food as pedagogy, and a metaphor for production and co-creation, unconditional hospitality and ideas of living together in the city. A space of sharing and solidarity, Mutfak مطبخ Workshop organises gatherings around the notion of sharing, carries out research and creates cultural projects grounded in food and the kitchen, labour and hospitality.


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