Critical Cooking Show
Gold Water: Landscapes of Olive and Olive Oil
Mutfak مطبخ Workshop

Supported by the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Istanbul and UNHCR.

Olive tree holds the living knowledge of Mesopotamia. Since ancient times, it represents life, peace, and solidarity in the region. Soil composition and land ownership are tied to its cultivation. Social and labour relationships, families, commons, and cooperatives organise around its farming; the objects utilised in its planting, picking, and processing also demonstrate these relationships. Olive and olive oil have uses of care, hygiene, medicine, nurturing, luxury, food, fuel, and several others. 

This living knowledge is managed and interrupted by the nation states in the region. Starting with the 1980s, grape farming and wine were praised instead of olive farming and olive oil as the economies of the region in Turkey. This was followed by cutting a mass number of olive trees, and families changing work. In Syria, olive oil has become known as “gold water”, as the best quality produce is too expensive for the local market, and exported almost immediately. The management of people’s mobility and livelihood runs along the management of the landscapes of olive trees, throughout the many conflicts in the region.

In Gold Water, Mutfak مطبخ Workshop presents this knowledge in different chapters, brought together by the making of green beans with olive oil -olive oil being the infrastructure of any recipe in the region. The episode starts in the kitchen of a Mutfak مطبخ Workshop member, and transitions to olive tree gardens in Kilis and İdlib, Oylum Höyük Archaeological Site, and Museum of Archaeology in Gaziantep, while interviewing farmers and other experts at different sites. Gold Water follows the protagonist making the recipe, and introduces the significance of olive trees and its produce in the archaeology, ecology, landscape, daily life, and politics of Mesopotamia.


Mutfak مطبخ Workshop was founded in Gaziantep in 2015, by women from Turkey and Syria. Promoting a space of proximity and collective decision-making, the Workshop focuses on the idea of the kitchen as a cultural space and food as pedagogy, and a metaphor for production and co-creation, unconditional hospitality and ideas of living together in the city. A space of sharing and solidarity, Mutfak مطبخ Workshop organises gatherings around the notion of sharing, carries out research and creates cultural projects grounded in food and the kitchen, labour and hospitality. 

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