Return to Public Art

" Recipe for Friendship" was created for a community in San Diego called Little Italy. View map.

The art piece consists of ten sidewalk plaques and four cafe-like tables. The first sidewalk plaque is located at the corner of India and Date Streets. Following the plaques along the sidewalk on the north side of Date Street draws you from the hub of restaurants on India Street into Amici Park. On each of the cafe tables in the park is a bronze sculpture-a plate of food, with its recipe engraved on the napkin. The checker board tablecloths are made from Italian glass mosaics.

To find a concept suitable for the neighborhood called Little Italy and to create an art piece for a small park called Amici, I first looked to history. In recent history, Italian and Portuguese fisherman and their families lived here. As I looked further, I discovered this area was once home to a Japanese community of fisherman and, before that, a Native American community. Southern California is immersed in change. Currently the demographics are more Hispanic than Italian. With the onset of new construction more changes loom in the future.

Next, I looked for a commonality shared by cultures that migrate and immigrate. The human desire to create a sense of place and recreate the familiar manifests itself in food. When someone leaves their county of origin they bring recipes as well as seeds for plants they might not be able to find. When immigrants prepare the recipes they have brought with them, they are bonding to another, almost mythic place. When they meet new people, they share their culture through flavors.

Food, to me, is the most joyful way to talk about immigration. Food-making is a gesture of love. Eating with family and friends entices recollections and the good feeling for future generations. It brings a full attention to the moment. The food maker is the unsung hero of immigration.

A viewer can interact with the art by doing a rubbing onto paper of the recipes they wan to take home.


Amici park has an elementary school as a close neighbor. Washington Elementary students participated in the research for this project. Co-teacher Judith Christensen and I conducted a workshop where students looked up and interviewed family memebers about squash, garlic, and fava beans. They did drawings and a special book was made for the school’s library. The information that one reads on the plater of the fava recipe was given by the children.

To read all the sidewalk plaques, click here

Click Here for Press Release

article by Kelly O'Connor

The San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture's Public Art Sites Program coupled with the Little Italy Association and Center City Development Corporation have funded this project.

To request a free book about this project .