Maria Jekova is a photographer and self-taught cook with an inspiring Instagram account about clean food and simple living. A few years ago she fell in love with the Rhodope village of Varbovo and became its fourth official resident. With her prize from Master Chef (2021), Maria bought the old potato storage house in the village with the intention to restore it and turn it into a place for good deeds, meetings and exchange of ideas, and with that to bring people back to the picturesque mountain village.
Maria’s greatest inspiration is nature and all it offers for the human body and soul with its healing powers. Living close to nature, Maria eats what she grows herself, buys sustainably grown products from small producers and manages to trace the path of everything she puts on her plate.
Maria Jekova’s work for the current exhibition is a story about the path of man’s first cultivated food in the mountains – the grain on which life was founded – rye. What her work seeks to recreate is the grain’s journey from the soil to the human body and the ways in which humans have managed to preserve this food for the long winters.
Marias inspiration came while searching for the purpose of an old sieve she found in her 19th century house. What was that wooden hoop with a leather bottom, through whose holes the hand-rolled rye couscous has been passed? Maria traces the path of this couscous all the way back to the arable fields. And then back along the path of the grain to the yufka, the trahana and the homemade filo pastry. All clever ways of turning grain into essential food for the winter.