This post may be slightly overdue as it is an account of a fantastic afternoon some three weeks ago at the Cheetham Hill Welcome centre. When Manchester Jewish Museum invited me to collaborate with them to develop and deliver a creative programme around food, it was immediately clear to me that this would be a fantastic opportunity to support others to integrate food into their artistic practice. As part of this, we launched a call for proposals which received some fantastic responses and we awarded a small commission to the Venus Collective directors Tasmin Coyle and Naomi Scott.
Tasmin and Naomi developed a project involving gathering wisdom, advice, fortunes, and small acts of kindness through workshops with various community groups. They will be gifting those, along with a tasty treat called Teiglach as part of the upcoming Cheetham Cultural Festival. As well as having crowdsourced the content of their contribution, Naomi called upon her mum’s kitchen know-how to work out how to find the perfect recipe for this treat which is relatively unknown in the Manchester Jewish community with exception to a few passionate advocates, including Museum volunteer extraordinaire Phyllis.
The Venus Collective chose to work with teiglach as the Cheetham Festival is just before the start of Rosh Hashanah which is the traditional occasion to make and share this small dough ball which (in the case of Naomi and her mum’s recipe) is fried and then boiled in honey. Which brings me to what made such a lovely afternoon.
As with many foods, there are as many recipes for Teiglach as the people who make it, and for some, its flavour and texture are associated with memories which are almost impossible to recreate. After a few more or less successful attempts at home with various recipes*, a small group gathered to be taught the version that Naomi and her mum preferred and refined… but of course, the story does not end there… each person brought their memories, their knowhow of dough-making, their preferences of toppings, their tolerance for sickly-sweet treats and as the afternoon evolved, so too did the recipes.
I hope it is not too cavalier of me to guess that there were at least four generations represented in our small group, with different backgrounds, experiences, interests… As Naomi and her mum led the proceedings a kind of common language and an embodied way of sharing knowledge emerged with the subtle force which in my experience, only ever arises when we gather to make and share food.
I’ll leave you with an invitation to head to the Cheetham Cultural Festival next weekend and to look out for the newly invented Cheetham Teiglach! I don’t think it’ll be long before it becomes a community staple.
*I probably should disclose that unlike Creative Producer Laura, I wasn’t brave enough to even try to make them ahead of the workshop!