Notes from the moonland

Notes from the moonland

Barbora Gábová’s journey started in Czechia and ended on the island of Fuerteventura where she found what freedom truly means for her. Since settling down, she’s been managing a farm with her brother and her family, cultivating a deep connection with the surrounding flora and fauna. As a chef, she enjoys preparing dishes from the fruit and vegetables grown on the farm, not only for her and her family’s enjoyment but for their visitors as well. Striving for simplicity and melding with nature has become a part of every aspect of her life, driving her artistic vision. Barbora’s days are spent creating unique, edible concepts from various ingredients that put dishes into a brand-new perspective—this is one of the things we talked to her about.

This article originally appeared in issue no. 8 of the Hype&Hyper print magazine.

How are you? How do you spend your days lately?

I feel good, I’m sitting on the floor at home right now. I like sitting or lying on the floor a lot as it brings me a certain kind of peace. Our house is close to the ocean in Tindaya, a town beside a sacred mountain. The energy is great around this area. When I’m here, I always feel happy and in balance. We’ve just launched an artist residency at the farm, something I’m super excited about.

Tell me more about the artist residency. Where did you get the idea?

Six months ago, me and my brother decided to invite Czech and Slovakian artists to our farm. Three of them are already here, and we are waiting for six more to arrive. This month is going to be full of inspiration and surprises. I don’t know what to expect, since this is the first time we’re doing this. The idea was to provide an environment in which they can live and create—a place where they have free time and can have dinner together. They are going to spend the whole month here, working on their own projects—an ideal setup for me in which I get to have a break from work and create space for my own artistic endeavours or collaborate on something exciting.

What role does Fuerteventura play in your life?

As an Aquarius, I’ve always had a deep connection to water and one of my biggest dreams was to live by the ocean. For me, water brings peace and makes it possible to slow down. I’m fascinated by marine life as we don’t really know what is underneath. Such a strange world! In the wintertime six years ago, me, my brother and my friends went on a boat trip around the Canary Islands and ended up on Fuerteventura. We spent a gorgeous Christmas on the beach, making a bonfire and roasting potatoes for dinner. We returned to the island multiple times, and during one of our visits, we found a beautiful town where there was a farm with an old house for sale. The environment here looks as if you’re on the moon, with a bit of greenery of palm trees, agaves and aloe veras. While this might feel stressful to some, I find it deeply soothing. The lack of distraction makes it possible for me to dive in and find beauty in a seemingly empty space.

And what is your farm like?

We purchased the land together with the old house and renovated it. There was also an old garage that has become my home. We built everything by ourselves including the three apartments and the teepees we rent, and we also have a skateboarding rink. Then we started taking animals in. First, we saved Ema, our goat, but we also have donkeys, chickens, turtles, rabbits, and dogs that all have names. We keep the goat for the milk and the hugs and we usually make goat cheese from the milk. We also have a garden where we grow bananas, papayas, mangoes, courgettes, aubergines, tomatoes and all kinds of herbs, and we regularly hold feasts for our guests from fresh ingredients.

Your Instagram photos showcase folklore traditions, spirituality, and tribal vibes. Where does this come from?

I cherish national costumes thanks to my grandmothers from the countryside. My father used to be the most avid traveller I’ve ever known. He was travelling even when my mother was pregnant with me, and he only returned when I turned three months old. He spent a lot of time in South America and always brought something back from the Native Americans. I had admired their culture since I was a kid. Instead of bedtime stories, we listened to his travel notes. Now, I have my own notebook that I take with me everywhere to note down my thoughts on anything from a particular place in a city to a church. Just like my father, I’ve also travelled a lot, I feel most at home on the road. I sometimes need to be somewhere else. My family said that my name Barbora means stranger, and this sentiment is reflected in me never being truly home anywhere, but finding a home everywhere. But obviously, I’m from Czechia and traditional braided Czech pastry has a special place in my kitchen.

You are creating super unique food concepts. Where do you get the inspiration from?

I get inspired by the shapes in nature and old books, as well as symbols in Native American, Mexican and Czech cultures. I’m not really looking for inspiration, but keep my eyes open at all times. When I really like something I take a picture, write down some notes or draw. I get a lot of inspiration from old cowboy and gardening books as well.

Your gingerbread baked in a shell stems from the same idea?

Shells have a shape that inspires me. When I came home from France,  I brought some ingredients. I wanted to make ginger or vanilla bread, but I didn’t have a suitable baking dish. So I improvised and used shells instead. Surprisingly, they worked perfectly in the oven.

What is your favourite memory related to food?

I love when people share a plate. My favourite memory is from Morocco where it’s a tradition to eat from the same plate. I like to create a similar sense of community at my feasts. I respect Czech ingredients and vegetables, but at Czech feasts plates are too big and I don’t like when everyone is eating from their own plates. For me, eating is a communal experience during which people take hours to eat, talk, drink and laugh.

What are your plans for the near future?

Currently, I’m working on a book exploring food and introducing people I met during my feasts. This book is not going to be a traditional cookbook: it’ll be full of photographs and paintings. It will be a mix of a bit of everything.

Barbora’s table

Pizza dough

2 cups lukewarm water
1 pinch of sugar
1 and ½ tablespoons of active dry yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 and ¼ cups of all-purpose or bread flour
1 and ½ teaspoons of salt

Mix the lukewarm water and sugar in a bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top and let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
Add the olive oil, flour and salt to the mixture, and mix with a fork until the dough forms. Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and flexible.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, and roll it around to cover with oil. Cover the bowl with a large, clean cloth and leave to rise until it doubles in size, around 90 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 250 °C.

Shape the dough, let it rest for 10 minutes, then put it on a baking tray and bake for around 15 minutes.

Gingerbread with courgettes

1 cup rye flour
1 cup wheat flour
½ cup cane sugar
¾ cup olive oil
3 eggs
3 cups of shredded courgettes
2 teaspoons of baking powder
vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, salt, lime zest
Optional: walnuts and other nuts.

Prepare two bowls. Mix the dry ingredients in the first one, and the wet ingredients in the other. Add the dry mixture to the wet and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 160 °C.

Grease and flour the cake pan or shells and pour in the mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Barbora Gábová | Web | Instagram

Photos: Barbora Gábová and Michal Patycki

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