Alex Blanco (1988, Ukraine) emigrated from Odesa in 2004 when she was just sixteen. She took the first photos in the series Meat, Fish & Aubergine Caviar in 2016, when her father fell ill and was admitted to an intensive-care unit. Until 2021, Blanco regularly stayed in Odesa for several months at a time to care for her father and keep her forlorn and frightened mother company. During this time, photography became their bridge of communication and they finally felt a connection they had never had before. Blanco took pictures of their day-to-day life, at home and in street markets, while also creating an utopian universe through her lens — where life is beautiful and her parents become their dream selves in front of the camera.

Like photography, cooking and eating together formed a point of connection between Blanco and her parents. Inspired by community-made cookbooks intended to be shared among friends and neighbours, which she remembers from the communal living of her childhood, Blanco has shared three of her mother’s ‘infamously’ delicious recipes. The book, a selection from which can be seen here, reflects the culture of what is usually Ukraine’s friendliest and laziest city, Odesa. It simultaneously presents a self-portrait of someone who, scarred by their childhood, would rather live in the illusionary Odesa of meat, fish and aubergine caviar.