“I tried to put as many vitamins in it as I could,” Meiko laughed before the five-course experience she created began at Hamtramck’s (revolver), where she was doing another of her sold out pop-ups.
Over those five courses her Ayurvedic concept of incorporating six tastes — salty, sweet, pungent, bitter, astringent, and sour — came across again and again. I simply felt good eating her food, which, as she stressed, is the whole point of Guerrilla Food. This is the experience she wants us walking away with whether we eat at one of her catered events or at the Pink Flamingo, the food truck she runs.
So, what exactly is Guerrilla Food?
“Guerrilla Food is a catering company and we’ve been doing pop-ups for the last five years. Because our focus is on using food as medicine that also means that we’re doing gardening and teaching classes, and doing some prepared meals.”
How did it start?
“We started in 2012. I was working for Brother Nature Produce, volunteering, and teaching at a school, the latter of which I wasn’t enjoying very much. I was looking for more meaningful work. So I started running and cooking out of the Pink Flamingo Airstream in the spring of 2012. That was pretty much it.”
“I stopped teaching and I ended up going to massage school. During that time I became really interested in nutrition and food and the connection between what we put into our bodies and how our bodies function. I was thinking, ‘Maybe I do food work and massage work,’ but timing became an issue. So instead it became more of, ‘How do I apply these principles of healing our bodies to how I’m making and preparing food?'”
Your concept of “food as medicine,” please explain?
“Medicine has this connotation of being like, ‘Oh, I take a pill,’ and in fact, we’re suggesting the complete opposite, which is that instead of having to take something that’s been distilled down to a few chemicals we’re approaching food as a way to balance our bodies, maybe even heal illnesses.”
“That’s the basic premise: using food as a way to make our bodies feel better and make us feel better both mentally and emotionally.”
How important is it that you source locally and seasonally?
“For us, it’s really important. It’s not always possible though. That’s partly why we do fewer events in the winter because there’s just not as much to source locally that’s available. But every year we’ve been getting better at putting some of our resources towards getting ready for winter.
We have to think a little bit more regionally during this time of year but to me mostly the reason why it’s so important is because the quality of what you’re getting when it’s so fresh, and when you know where it’s coming from, that just makes such a huge difference.”
Considering Detroit, and our food culture, how important is to have this type of cooking here?
“I think it’s really important. I think it’s why we’re seeing a lot more people doing it and it’s becoming more and more widely recognized as, ‘I understand the concept and I understand how it works and I understand the value of it.’ I think it’s a very natural response to how things are functioning on a national level and people saying, ‘Let me be more aware of where I am, what I’m doing, and all the pieces involved in that.’ So that means, what is it that I’m putting into my body? How am I expressing that to people? I see that becoming more and more of a practice that we’re involved in on a daily basis. I hope it continues. I hope it becomes more accessible. It’s cool to see everybody doing their own individual spin on it because basically, that’s what it is. It’s me telling a story and trying to share that with another person.”
You mention you could only do this in a place like Detroit, why do you think that is?
“There are lots of places I haven’t been and that I don’t know of, but to me Detroit is filled with people who are really innovative and creative and also independent. Being in this type of environment has allowed me to develop my own style and also to be able to just create my business from the ground up, not needing that much capital, not needing that much infrastructure. And they’re being so many people who are also working a few different jobs and doing this and experimenting with that. So I think that kind of environment, for me, was really helpful in terms of saying, ‘These are the things you really care about, there’s actually a way for you to live out those principles on a daily basis.'”
Why do you think people keep coming back for more of your food?
“We try to accommodate as many diets and taste buds as possible. I’ve dealt with allergies and food sensitivities in my lifetime. But also, I think coming from a mixed background of being exposed to different food cultures, it’s been a matter of us figuring out how do we combine all these different influences into something that just tastes good. So we mix it up a bit.”
Address: 9737 Joseph Campau St, Hamtramck, Michigan