Dining with Las Sambucas: An exploration of neighbourhood cosmologies

Video and Publication commissioned by the Oslo Architecture Triennale


Invited by the Elder Tree, four women from Peru, Egypt and Venezuela is sourced and cooked within Germany. They gathered around the dinner table and discussed their practices, cooking heritage, and geographies in relation to the Elder Tree’s shared wisdom. This food ritual is a celebration of collaboration, ecological resistance, and joy.

Prompted by the question - who are the elder tree’s neighbours? - Cocinas Alterinas started to investigate the different cosmologies of the Elder Tree (Sambucus Nigra) between Zurich (CH), Berlin, and Dessau (DE). This investigation concluded in the short film: Dining with Las Sambucas.

The video piece is conceptualised as a circular loop referencing the life cycle of the Elder Tree. From seed to plant, to bloom, to berry, and back again. It brings together an ever-growing network of human and non-human relationships, stories, and wisdom around the Elder tree. This caring protagonist manifests itself as a lens of reflection on the different scales of neighbourhood, and how we reconnect our kitchens to the acts of sourcing and cooking from and with nature.

“Dining with Las Sambucas” is a dinner invitation, a space of myth gathering, storytelling, and future-making. Cooking being the medium of narration. The video piece chooses to portray the collaborations and dialogues between four women -four perspectives and geographies from the global south (majority). Together they recreated flavours and exchanged knowledge in Germany, inspired by the binding element of this neighbourhood kitchen: the Elder Tree.

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