Habiba Smallen

Asheville North Carolina

In my youth, food and cooking experimentation was one constant mode of creative expression. Being an angst-ridden pre-teen out in the country who needed an outlet for creativity and without knowing anything about flavour or proper technique, I dove into cooking. I mixed, chopped, fried, baked, boiled and garnished. I was fearless and never deterred from a failed experiment. One memorable example is the accidental pink mashed potatoes I made when I was eleven. They looked bizarre, but tasted great. Their dignity intact. As time moved on, I explored various food lifestyles in order to gain experience and knowledge. Through restriction, I discovered new freedom. I tried raw foods, vegetarian/vegan, cooking without spices, local/seasonal and all sorts of international exploits, thus deepening my relationship to food and my understanding of the art of cuisine. As a raw foodist, I only ate raw vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. Pie crusts and sauces were made by blending soaked nuts. Sprouting produced dehydrated crackers and bizarre tasting manna breads. That pursuit lasted for just over a year, but I gave it up when my entire body turned a disturbing shade of orange from eating too many carrots. I indulged in creative expression. While in art school, edible projects began to merge with the non-edible projects as I experimented with conceptual themed costumes, decorations and dinner parties. I created, assembled and compiled my food/art projects, thus my repertoire expanded into a more mixed media. I found myself living overseas, on the other side of the world. I had to let go of everything I was comfortable with. My initial shock of how unfamiliar the rest of the world lives was quickly overcome by my hunger for new experiences: I'll eat anything once. I've travelled to thirty countries and I've only just begun. Over the twenty-five years since my first desires to cook, an overwhelming urge to share my discoveries has brought you this blog.

  • Work
    • Creator of website
  • Education
    • Concordia University
    • Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College