Salma Serry is a food researcher, writer and filmmaker. She is the founder of @Sufra_Kitchen, a social media platform that re-approaches food history and culture of the region. In 2020, while pursuing her graduate studies in Gastronomy at Boston University, she launched an independent project that has collected, archived and now houses over 400 historical regional cookbooks and culinary ephemera, which help inform her research practice.
Her approach centers on contextualizing and analyzing history, archives and memory to highlight forgotten, contested, or marginalized narratives that tend to disappear against hegemonizing national cuisines and identity politics. The result of her work is often an investigation - habitually in writing and occasionally in a film format- of the entanglement of food in class, migration, and culture as it occurs/ed in Egypt and the Arab Gulf.
Her latest writings were published in Arab Literature Quarterly, CNT Traveller and You Are Here: The Journal of Creative Geography. She also enjoys designing and conducting workshops that invite reflections and dialogue around the aforementioned topics, as recently commissioned by Art Jameel and Al Serkal Avenue.
She was recently awarded the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) and Arab Council for Social Sciences (ACSS) joint grant for her ongoing project that documents a 100 years of culinary ephemera from SWANA's archives and was also the recipient of the Julia Childs Student Writing Award for her scholarly research paper "Abdul Nasser's Politicization of Food in Hadaya Hawaa."
@sufra_kitchen: A social platform on Food history & culture of Southwest Asia and North Africa (SWANA)
A space to reimagine and rethink food and foodways of SWANA with all its abundance: stories it tells, histories it boasts, recipes it creates, businesses it nurtures, benefits with which it heals and people it brings together.
A Menu & It's Leftovers: Finding Jeddah's Food Voices
A public program commissioned by Art Jameel as part of the exhibition 'Staple: What's on your plate?"
The project consists of a series of workshops that look into Jeddah's local food sites, community cookbooks, personal histories, and archival material to unravel the ways that food, history, and culture are interconnected. The programme culminates in a collaborative published work, conceived as the “leftovers,” i.e. testaments to the research conducted during the workshops.
Menus of Dubai
A project commissioned by Art Jameel Library
In autumn 2021, this iteration of Library circles explores food menus as a site of confluence where history, knowledge, politics and economies, senses and semantics become interconnected elements produced and reproduced continuously throughout time.
A project curated by Nahla Tabbaa and commissioned by Al Serkal Avenue
Rewilding the Kitchen is an online/offline project embracing what we call ‘rewilding’— ingredients and food become actors with agency, activating processes that unfold as the ingredients ‘intend'. Other participating artists are Namliyeh and Moza Al-Matrooshi.
TALKS, WORKSHOPS & PRESENTATIONS
2 part-workshop series: Personal food history with Tayyib Society
A guide to approach food and history as means to reflect on the individual's own past and identity beyond the group's politics, collective culture and constructed heritage.
On SWANA's oral history, folk, language and food with LSE's InstantCoffee.pod podcast
A chat on the intertwined relationship between language, food names, storytelling and history of the region. How is language important to food research and what can we tell from a dish's name?
On Food Writing in SWANA at Bila Hudood literature festival
A reading of an excerpt from my essay "Teita's Bitter-orange Jam: Home Economics, Umm Kalthoum and Gamal Abdel-Nasser", in ALQ's Kitchen issue. The readings are followed by discussions with co-panelists on food writing in Egypt and the region.
An investigation into 1950-60s Hawaa' magazine's culinary influence in Egypt with afikra
This public presentation investigated the influence Hawwa' magazine had over the Egyptian Kitchen in the 20th century. It looked into what Egypt & Egyptian cuisine were like at that time, the magazine and its cookbooks, the readers, and the recipes & content