Stokkøya is small island middle left of Norway. The island is made up of 300 residents and there are two sides to the island - the very local, traditional side and the younger more touristy side. In between these polarised ends is a small supermarket (the manager Walter told us where the moose hang out) the supermarket is called Coop - everyone goes to Coop.
There was a palatable tension on the island between tradition and modernity, the local and the global, settling and growth - yet for everyone it boiled down to their fight for survival and what it means to remain rooted in a multi temporal world. We wanted to make something that people were proud of and we didn't want people to crane their necks while we shout from the hills. We wanted to tell the quiet stories, the ones people have taken care of and grown, ones that bring people together.
Våre Poteter (Our Potatoes) is a recipe book that celebrates the potato. It tells the story of knowledge, tradition, generously, ritual and joy. Recipes that place us in a moment in time, from then and now, from old and young, from here and from far away yet all gathered from and upon the small island of Stokkøya. These are recipes for survival; as it is the potato that keeps us warm in the winter and the potato that brings us together at the end of the day.
Våre Poteter is a collection of 43 potato recipes collected from Stokkøya residents - from Sylva who is 83 and has lived on the island her whole life and used to eat cormorant with goat cheese for dinner to Ebrahim; a Syrian refugee who came to Stokkøya five years ago who likes potato Dauphinoise to 12 year old Carl who’s favourite potato recipe is to buy the frozen chips from Coop and cook them. You can pick up your copy for free from Coop supermarket on Stokkøya and Bygdeboksen and soon to be able to borrow from Åford library, Central St Martin's library and Falmouth library. (It's mainly in Norwegian, sorry.)
We launched Våre Poteter by inviting contributors and locals to a potato feast at Bygdeboksen. For starter we served Carl’s chips (frozen chips from Coop), Bente-Elin’s Pommes Duchess, Anny and Sylva’s Kumle, Ingrid’s potato pizza and Joshua’s Potatoes in Mojo sauce. For main we serves two 4kg cod caught off the island the day before with Genny’s roast potatoes, Sturla’s janssons temptations, Lena’s potato salad and green salad and for desert we served Aina’s Potato Lefse. We invited contributors to come and cook their dishes with us in the days before the feast and Aina turned up with a life time collection of Lefse making tools and knowledge. The evening ending with an unexpected book signing for a comic twist.
While making the potato recipe book we wanted to make a series of handheld/ pocket sized potato sculptures that could be given out alongside the book. We went to the local ship yard where they had a bin of zinc anodes (these are strapped to the bottom of big ships and used to prevent corrosion through cathodic protection, also known as sacrificial zinc). We made 6 potato moulds and set about trying to melt the zinc to pour into the moulds - zinc melts at 419.5°C and although we had run a tester which went well, melting zinc on mass on an open fire was torturous. We spent two long days in gas masks with burning faces trying to melt it and when we finally got it to melt our moulds kept shattering. So we left with 5 zinc potatoes (not enough for everyone). So instead of handing them out we fixed them to an aluminium pole that I pulled out of an oven in the scrap yard and mounted them on a nice piece of wood and asked Coop if we could install the sculpture in the supermarket. Walter the manager was incredible excited and found a nice spot of it on the windowsill in the back room where islanders come and drink their coffees every morning at 11am - also the place where we met and chatted to lots of people and got their recipes. I’m glad we didn’t make 43 zinc potatoes and i’m glad the potato sculpture now looks out over the sea in Coop where people will gather everyday for a long time to come.