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Review: Eating Myself – a culinary journey to self-discovery.

by Volunteer Reporter, Genevieve Bland

“Am I fat?” asks Pepa, a question that probably universally resonates with women. Pepa is a proud Peruvian woman, and she welcomes us in, what seems to be, her childhood kitchen.

Preparing her grandma’s Peruvian dish, Pepa hilariously recounts the remedies prescribed by a Peruvian nutritionist full of obscure remedies or, how after a terrible hangover, she spent £75 on an internet ad promising the miracle diet only to be given an Excel sheet.

Toxic diet culture

But the grizzly reality sets in when Pepa, uses the floor as a chalkboard, and breaks down her daily calorie count, an erratic presentation of the quantities, sugar count, and water amount in every meal.

She screams, despair in her eyes, how will this make her pretty?

Summing up the reality of “diet culture”, she exclaims: “No matter how much I tried, I always had the sensation of failing”.

In a captivating one-woman act, Pepa brings to life her deceased grandmother, her mother, and her own inner child to give us a glimpse into her broken relation to food. From a mother who only saw food as functional and that didn’t need to be tasty as long as it was healthy, to her dysfunctional relationship with her body and men.

Cooking – an act of love and celebration of one’s roots

The play starts with a woman’s tormented life of self-hatred and loss of identity using a restrictive diet to attain a sense of self through unrealistic beauty standards.

But it ends with her creating a new relationship with food as a way to reconnect with her roots, her origins, to her grandma; the “only shadow she could catch” in her isolated childhood house.

Pepa Duarte gives a universal but often forgotten message about food: “Food is part of one’s connections with their lands, it’s a gift, a privilege, an excuse to be with the ones you love and the possibility to bring back your loved ones as well”.

Her grandma’s soup was shared with members of the audience.

Find out where you can catch Pepa Duarte and her play Eating Myself:

About the play

Back home, the mouth-watering flavours of traditional Peruvian cooking were forbidden in Pepa’s home. Except when Grandma would sneak in a steak and some spices. In England, Pepa found herself on a journey, a journey inside herself, to discover that food could be shared with a new family around a new table. And now you are invited to taste it. Through sharing her own experiences, Duarte undertakes a powerful journey, inviting the audience to reflect on their own relationships with food. You are invited to the table to join Pepa Duarte for a full sensory experience exploring womanhood, body image and tradition in this debut play directed by Sergio Maggiolo. 

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