Alya Stafford

You Are What You Eat

“You are what you eat” is a video project I’ve created countering the nature of cultural identity and using food as a medium. The phrase “you are what you eat” originally appeared in 1826, it originally refers to the notion that to be healthy you need to eat nutritional food. Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote “tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are”. Later on, in 1999, Greetha Kothari released an autobiographical essay “If you are what you eat, then what am I?” exploring the difficulty of wanting to assimilate as a first generation immigrant in America but craving the foods she would have back in India. 

In this project, I’ve cooked five recipes from five out of the seven countries I’ve lived in. I made Kibbeh (the national dish of Lebanon), Rösti (Switzerland), Koshari (Egypt), Nihari (Pakistan) and Skoudehkaris (Djibouti) in the order of when I lived in their respective countries. It was important to me to remake these as it was exploring my cultural identity in a different way: through food.






Using Format