Wheelchair Accessibility

About this workshop

As part of the Archives in Common: Migrant Practices/Knowledges/Memory project, chef Carolina Saavedra will facilitate a series of workshops centered on food traditions, food justice, and urban farming.

This series will continue with a second outdoor workshop "Brewing Memories" on medicinal herbs at Brooke Park, a community garden in the South Bronx where Carolina grows many of the delicious chiles and herbs she and her mom, Natalia Mendez, use in their traditional recipes at La Morada restaurant. The workshop is called “Brewing memories" because Carolina will invite us to “draw” a memory using herbs and honey, which we will then brew into our own tea! In this hands-on workshop, we will not only learn about different herbs we can easily grow at home (and perhaps use to brew more tea), but also about different knowledges and traditions linked to medicinal herbs.

The workshops will be documented in the Archives in Common page here.

Chef Carolina Saavedra of La Morada restaurant

The workshop will be led by Carolina Saavedra, an educator at Stone Barns Center, a nonprofit organization working to bring about a healthy and sustainable food system. She is also the sous chef at La Morada restaurant, where the Saavedra family fights to ensure equality and social justice and to preserve their indigenous roots within the community of the South Bronx.

She once considered a career in medicine but left her pre-med studies to pursue her calling and passion for feeding people and preserving food traditions. She moved to San Miguel Ahuehuetitlan, municipality of Oaxaca, Mexico to immerse herself in her indigenous roots and learn her ancestors’ recipes. Upon her arrival back in the U.S., Carolina continued to build her culinary career, competing on Food Network’s Chopped, graduating from the International Culinary Center with honors, and securing a competitive culinary internship at Martha and Marley Spoon.

Chef Carolina has represented the U.S. at multiple gastronomy events in Mexico, and she is a sought-after chef who has taught at leading cultural institutions including The Bronx Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

View photos from the Brewing Memories workshops held on Saturday, October 3rd, and Saturday, October 24th at Brooke Park, facilitated by La Morada chef Carolina Saavedra. Photos by Cinthya Santoa-Briones.

La Morada co-owner Natalia Saavedra, talking about the importance of building community and memories through food and culinary traditions, and about the significance of centering healing in community during these times. Brewing Memories workshop, Saturday, October 3, at Brooke Park. Photo by Cinthya Santos-Briones.

A red plate with a a mix of several herbs over a white board filled with notes made by a workshop participant, explaining the benefits uses and of Salvia. Brewing Memories workshop held on Saturday, October 3, at Brooke Park. Photo by Cinthya Santos-Briones.

Professor Ángeles Donoso Macaya, chef Carolina Saavedra and chef Natalia Mendez at the Brewing Memories workshop held on Saturday, October 3, at Brooke Park. Photo by Cinthya Santos-Briones.

A memory drawn by a workshop participant, using lemongrass mixed with honey. Brewing Memories workshop held on Saturday, October 3, at Brooke Park. Photo by Cinthya Santos-Briones.

The hands of a workshop participant displaying their memory, drawn using a mix of herbs and honey over a cheese cloth. Brewing Memories workshop held on Saturday, October 3, at Brooke Park. Photo by Cinthya Santos-Briones.

Brewing Memories workshop held on Saturday, October 3, at Brooke Park. Photo by Cinthya Santos-Briones.

Marco Saavedra, Antonio Saavedra and Natalia Mendez setting the fire to boil water. Brewing Memories workshop, Saturday, October 3, at Brooke Park. Photo by Cinthya Santos-Briones.

Brewing Memories workshop held on Saturday, October 3, at Brooke Park. Photo by Cinthya Santos-Briones.

In October, La Morada chef and educator Carolina Saavedra facilitated two workshops centered on medicinal plants and indigenous practices. Both workshops were held at Brooke Park, a community garden in the South Bronx, where Carolina also grows some of the vegetables and plants, she and her mom use in their recipes at La Morada.

25 people, most of them neighbors of the South Bronx, attended the first workshop held on October 3. That day, Carolina talked about the healing properties of different plants, including Eucalyptus, Lemongrass, Spearmint, Thyme, and Sage.

On October 24, 20 people attended, many of them for the second time. It was great to see so many familiar faces, because one of the goals of this activity is to foster the sense of community, of togetherness. That day, we began by asking participants to choose three words out of a list prepared by Angeles, and write up feelings, ideas or memories they related to these words. Then, Carolina taught us about the healing properties of Lavender, Eucalyptus, Mint and Marigold. She also explained and traced the routes of these plants in the context of colonialism (who were the peoples who first discovered the plants, how then the plants were transported from one side of the Atlantic to the other).

We also got to taste two types of Mint: Chocolate Mint and Pineapple Mint. Then, participants used the words they had written to sketch a drawing on a piece of paper, and then use the sketch to draw a memory over a piece of cheese cloth. They drew this memory using honey and pieces of dry plants. A few participants shared their drawings and the memories these drawing represented. Afterwards, each made a tea bag containing their sweet memory; we all drank and shared tea together.

On both workshops, Carolina emphasized how useful these plants are in the current context: we might feel anxious because of the news we read, because we are facing eviction or are jobless. The pandemic is stressful, and it is completely understandable that we might feel anxious, desperate, fearful. She reminded us that both Lavender and Eucalyptus are good for anxiety, and that Lavender is also good to calm down children. But Carolina highlighted that these plants are not only good for our bodies, minds and souls, but also for the soil where they grow, and for the air we breathe. Plants like Lavender and Marigold are good pollinizers, they attract bees and butterflies, and at the same time repel pests, animals and insects you don’t want in your garden. Meanwhile, Eucalyptus is a natural air purifier—we can simply hang a branch from our showers at home to purify the air we breathe inside our tiny NY apartments.

Besides learning about these different plants, we all had the opportunity to smell, touch, taste, and even make art using the plants we were learning about.

Carolina, wearing an orange shirt, light green jacket and patterned pants, and Angeles, wearing a striped shirt, a black leather jacket and blue jeans, welcome the participants of the second workshop. Both wear patterned face masks. In the back, a paper kraft board shows a list of words in English and Spanish that Carolina uses as part of the activity (for instance––tierra/earth; memoria/memory, recalling; lengua materna/mother tongue. Photo by Cinthya Santos-Briones for Brewing Memories workshop, October 24, 2020.

The second workshop was also very meaningful because Yajaira, Carolina’s
sister, shared memories of her childhood in Oaxaca, and connected these
memories to the ongoing struggles neighbors in the South Bronx are
facing. She talked about gentrification, which is growing exponentially in Mott Heaven, and also about how many times indigenous practices, worlds, and ways of life, are appropriated and emptied of meaning. She mentioned all of this because she framed the Brewing Memories workshops within this larger process: getting together to drink tea, talk about past memories and share food (on this occasion, traditional “pan de muerto”) is also a form of
community resistance, a form of mutual aid.

Chef Carolina getting ready for the workshop, seeing here near the dry plants and the pan de muerto that we all ate together at the end of the activity.

Lavender, Liquorish, and Marigolds, some of the plants the participants got to small and taste during the second Brewing Memories workshop.

Delicious Pan de muerto!

Two workshop participants, one wearing a black jacket and the other wearing a maroon and orange baseball-style jacket are seated at the table, preparing their tea bags, using dry herbs; both wear face masks. On the table, there are tiny glass jars, honey, clay cups, and a white board with written notes.

Branches of dry Mint, Marigold, Lemongrass, and Licorice, several clay cups and an open notebook on top of a wooden table at Friends of Brooke Park

Marco, who is wearing a light brown shirt and hat and medical mask, stands near a fire, serving tea to workshop participants of many different ages, who stand in line, waiting to be served; the people in line are also wearing masks––one of whom wears round pink sunglasses over her mask. There’s a big pot made out of clay on top of the fire; smoke comes out of the fire

"Brewing memories, sustaining life in common"

Read Archives in Common project leader Ángeles Donoso Macaya's essay "Brewing memories, sustaining life in common", reflecting on the Brewing Memories workshops and it's origins and the significance and impact of this collaborative and generative process of creating and learning together.

This workshop and series is co-sponsored by La Morada restaurant and the Archives in Common: Migrant Practices/Knowledges/Memory project as part of the Mellon Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research from the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center CUNY.





Chef Carolina Saavedra of La Morada restaurant, a community collaborator with the Archives in Common project.