studio love

A Notebook

ruminations of an aspiring artist

On our food




Each meal that we make together in the Studio Love Kitchen brings a renewed awareness of our food – not just HOW to make it, but also how it resides in the larger context of our community, our culture and values.

Someone planted a seed in my head to try making paella – a traditional, simple meal cooked for centuries in a coastal region of Eastern Spain (near Valencia). You start with a base of soffritto (we used just onions and garlic), toast paella rice in olive oil, add wine, stock and then available meat, vegetables and seafood (all the time keeping in mind how to allow the bottom of the rice in the pan to brown just enough for flavor). I have a belief that simply conceived meals are the most delicious and most filled with care and love when you can take the time to use fresh, homemade, local ingredients. And how could we go wrong with a recipe that has been around since at least the 1800s (and may even go back in some form as early as the 1400s)? Here is an article from Saveur magazine with more historical details about the origins of paella.


Planning our paella feast felt nostalgic to me for some reason. I entered into an imaginary world where we lived in a place like the Mediterranean coast of Spain. I imagined small fishing fleets and fish merchants and a bustling sea-based economy. And then I started wondering, why isn’t our Bay Area coast vibrant like the one I was imagining? We have this amazing natural resource along the California coast – why aren't fishing villages and a sea-based diet a part of our culture?

A visit to the local seafood market was eye opening.  It is a lovely market, Sun Fat Seafood Company, with the nicest employees and fresh selections. But all the fish and shellfish were not local. Everything was clearly labeled -- CHN, PHI, CAN, BRA. When we asked if anything was local, the answer made sense, but also made us sad. There has been so much over fishing of the coast over the past several decades that there are now strict quotas that limit the amount of fish that comes from our own coast. Here are a few recent articles from our local paper about the dismal state of our coastal ecosystem in the Bay Area.

Seafood's New Normal, October 2016
SF Bay ecosystem collapsing, October 7, 2016 
Toxic algae in SF Bay mussels, October 31, 2016

Wow.  In this center of technology innovation and wealth, we live next to an amazing natural resource, the sea, that we have damaged, neglected and are continuing to contaminate. I thought fish would be a good supplement to a mindful diet, but now I feel hesitant to add any fish to my diet without understanding where it was caught and the circumstances that brought it to market.

"Knowing about something will not necessarily make you a stakeholder of change. Embodied knowledge is more likely to instigate change. This means that if you have emotional or embodied knowledge about the climate, war and peace, or hunger you are much more likely to act upon it..."

- Olafur Eliasson

Awareness is a powerful force. I do believe that when a thought becomes embodied, taking form in our emotional being, we are more likely to act -- it’s when preparing a paella meal becomes a sadness that the context that made this food desirable to us is completely missing from the fabric of the culture we live in.  For me, it is like a memory of something lost and recreating this meal has become our only way to hold on to that memory. This dinner inspired me to act (starting small with writing and sharing this article) with a hope that in some way, we can begin to see our small actions as a first step to protect further experiences from becoming out of reach. It's daunting to think how much culture we can lose without an active practice of awareness in our communities.

We'd love to hear your insights on what actions you use to build a practice of awareness around the causes and things that you love in your own life. Send us a note (below) if you'd like to share your thoughts!



By the way, Mary (our Studio Love Kitchen expert) and I will work on making recipes available for the items on this menu if there is enough interest. Feel free to contact us below, if you are interested.

Name *
Arlene Suda