BELOW THE SALT

Below The Salt is a collection of stories and a series of events that aim to connect people of different backgrounds through food and storytelling. We connect people from various communities by organizing events where they can come together to share personal stories through food.

Below The Salt is for anyone interested in meeting people through their enjoyment of food and the stories that come with it. The goal is to build connections and understanding among people of different backgrounds and from different communities.


POINT OF VIEW

In a world where we build walls and put labels on everything, my mission as an Interaction Designer is to build connections that can penetrate those walls. I want to foster empathy within communities, promote diversity, and empower people through greater access to education.

Having worked for more than ten years around the world at various roles in the restaurant industry, I have come to believe that food is the ultimate human connector. For this project, I used my prior knowledge, combined with Interaction Design, in marrying technology and food to foster connections between communities.


Fear is preventing us to connect with those different than us. We lack opportunities to connect and when we find them, many times it is difficult to find common ground.


problem

Segregation, fear, ignorance, and shame prevent us from connecting with people from different backgrounds and communities. There are not enough opportunities for us to connect and when we find them, it can be difficult to find common ground.

 

RESEARCH INSIGHTS

Empathy is a choice and it is a vulnerable choice because in order to connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling.

– Brené Brown

 

“Your first relationship as a human being is about food…The first social experience we have is being put to the breast or bottle. The social act of eating, is part of how we become human, as much as speaking and taking care of ourselves. Learning to eat is learning to become human.”

– Richard Wilk


How might we foster opportunities for people from different backgrounds to share their stories and connect through food?


CURRENT SCENARIO

Fear, ignorance, and shame prevent us from connecting and building a sense of belonging in our communities

Approach

Vulnerability is at the core of connection and Food is present in many of our most vulnerable moments. there is an opportunity to share the stories that happen around those moments while celebrating our differences and finding similarities


Below The Salt partners with different organizations in the Bay Area to collect stories about the food that brings us memories. The stories are archived into various categories that emerge as we talk to different people such as: Grandmother's Soup, Friend's Lunch, Mom's Sandwich, etc.


What is below the salt?

Below The Salt is a collection of stories and a series of events that aim to connect people with different backgrounds through food and storytelling.


THE NAME

Thus the term "below the salt" came to represent those of lower social standing or perceived worth.

Below The Salt aims to reclaim that term. We do it by bringing everyone to the same table and by sharing stories about about the food that connects us.

In times of medieval England, when lords and peasants were still a thing, lords would throw big feasts. Nobles sat at the high table, and everyone else sat at a lower table. Salt was considered a luxury since it was really hard to get, so it would only be placed at the high table, out of reach to those sitting "below the salt."

 

how it works

  • Sign up for an upcoming event.

  • Attend event and meet people in your community. 

  • Share stories about the food that brings you memories during the event.

  • Post your food story on the Below The Salt wall.

  • Check online to learn more about the stories collected at the event.

  • Sign up for other events and provide feedback about your experience.


Events

We invite attendees to share the stories of dishes that elicit special meaning and personal memories, and to share them with people attending our events. Stories are collected on paper and also on audio throughout the event.

The stories are archived into various categories that emerge as we talk to different people such as: Grandmother's Soup, Friend's Lunch, Mom's Sandwich, etc. The stories are posted on our website, so other people can read and enjoy them, and learn more about the about the food that connects us. 


screens



Partners

Below The Salt is partnering with organizations in the Bay Area to expand our reach and become part of different events to collect stories. These are some of our partners:

  MEZCALISTAS  Susan Coss & Max Garrone

MEZCALISTAS
Susan Coss & Max Garrone

  LOLÓ SF  Jorge Martínez

LOLÓ SF
Jorge Martínez

  FLAVORS OF OAKLAND  Anya Ku & Elazar Sontag

FLAVORS OF OAKLAND
Anya Ku & Elazar Sontag

  DAUGHTER THAI  Kim, Iing, & Pop

DAUGHTER THAI
Kim, Iing, & Pop


THE BOOK

While collecting stories for this project at our events, local artists from different disciplines started becoming interested in the project. They wanted to be more involved, so we came together and decided to create a recipe book. The book aims to tell the stories behind the foods that make up some of our fondest memories, while also celebrating our differences and similarities.