Mallorca-born and based Rocio Graves’ idyllic upbringing — all sea salt and clementines and barefoot days on rocky beaches — feels plucked out of a photograph, the kind of slow paced, wanderlust-inciting landscape it's easy to romanticize. Yet Rocio’s work as a Human Rights activist, personal chef (try some of her recipes here), and student of Ayurvedic healing and cooking has brought her around the world, soaking up bits of seismically different cultures, paces of living, and ways of seeing. At present, we find her once again back in Mallorca, where she works to develop menus and food offerings for both local clients and as part of her own digital recipe community.
We spoke with Rocio about the ways that her unique upbringing has informed how she perceives home — from the specific sensory details that feel personal to the “heart homes” that have become lifelong loves.
Q. Can you share more about yourself, your upbringing, and background? Where do you call home today?
I was born on Mallorca in the late 80s in a small town on the north west coast of the island. I was raised in a bilingual home, in close conversation with the sea, the donkeys and olive trees. Plucking clementines and avocados off the trees on a winter’s day, enjoying long days barefoot on the rocks and in the water on humid summer months. Many moments shared in community of all ages around the table, jam sessions… full moon parties, poetry readings and live music.
I have an education in Human Rights, and was inspired after learning about farmers' rights during one of my trips to India when I was longterm volunteering at Vandana Shiva’s farm-school, Bija Vidyapeeth. Cooking is my passion and what I do for a living. I've always been inspired by my dad’s beautiful food - both of my parents worked from home running a small printing press and bookbinding, so every meal was freshly cooked and shared around the table. During my mid-twenties I was diagnosed with an autoimmune/thyroid imbalance, which led me to spend the last seven years studying food as a medicine along with Ayurveda in order to learning new ways of cooking and nourishing my body. I also grow food and love to geek out on compost making, soil regeneration and seed saving!
I currently work as a personal cook, menu developing for local businesses, creating recipe collections and ebooks for my online community and working in collaboration with brands creating exclusive recipes and imagery. My latest project, The Ones, is a collection of my staples. I gathered my go-to chutneys, pickles, dressings and spreads, sweet delights, drinks and soups into one space alongside some personal writings and the practices I use daily for grounding myself in the process of cooking. In this project I share how I prepare my body before enjoying a meal, inspired by Ayurvedic principles I have learned through my studies. The recipes are all plant-based and seasonal; super simple yet vibrant and truly truly delicious.
I’ve come full circle now and am back living in the same small town where I was born, house sitting for dear friends and family. Connecting with community, working on projects and enjoying the sweet summer time.
Q. At present, what are you feeling most connected to?
The sea. Living so close to her again has rekindled my connection with the waters here. To be one with her is bringing so much sweetness, aliveness and healing. Late last winter I established a daily routine of bathing in her as my priority. In recent days I was inspired by a loved one to meet with the sea in the morning (and evening when possible) as part of my practice; to rise, meditate and head down for a swim. It’s supporting me in establishing a sense of groundedness and connection to myself.
Q. What comes to mind when you think of the idea of ‘home”?
Nature in all its expressions. The naked body. The home within each of us, that place where one can rest and unfurl. Where one can meet themselves with compassion, free of judgement.
Q. You’re based in Mallorca but have travelled widely and lived all over the world — are there other places that feel like “heart homes” to you outside of Mallorca? Places you feel a deeper connection with in a profound way?
Yes. India feels like a heart home to me. I first travelled there as a nine year old with my family — we explored Rajasthan extensively and by the end of the trip I was so in love with India I didn’t want to leave. Shortly after, my parents were looking into moving there and different schooling options for me. Life had other plans… though I have gone back periodically over the years. This love for India is an inexplicable feeling, a recognition of sorts.
I would love to have the experience of life in Australia, specifically around Mullumbimby/Brunswick Heads — I visited family there some years back and fell in love with the laid back culture, the community, the ocean, the lush mountains, springs and waterfalls.
"Living so close to [the sea] again has rekindled my connection with the waters here. To be one with her is bringing so much sweetness, aliveness and healing...It’s supporting me in establishing a sense of groundedness and connection to myself. "
Rocio wears the Saatchi Sweater in Natural
Q. What flavors or dishes feel like home to you — things you make or return to again and again?
Cold soups are a summer tradition in my family. Growing up my dad used to make the most delicious gazpacho, cucumber soup, almond and garlic soup daily. You’d always find some ready to go in the fridge! I’d love to share my version of the cucumber soup with you — it’s hydrating and cooling, ready within minutes, and though the ingredients are very simple, the flavor is stunning.
Summer Cucumber Yogurt Soup
3 medium sized cucumbers, peeled + seeds discarded
A handful of fresh spinach
10 big basil leaves
1 + 1/4 cup coconut yogurt
1 medjool date, seed discarded
3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt
In a high speed blender, process all ingredients on high for a minute or until completely smooth.
Serve chilled (store in the fridge for thirty minutes to an hour before serving), garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and your favorite sprouts.
Store in the fridge in an air tight container for up to two days.
Q. What are some details about where you live now that you absolutely love and feel so specific to that place?
Oh I love this question… the first thing that came to mind is rock samphire, a delicious succulent that grows along the coast by the sea. It is traditionally pickled and served with ‘pamboli’, harvested gently by hand on little goat paths and by boat. I like to nibble on it as I walk to my favorite swim spot. I also love the scent of jasmine and fig trees growing alongside eachother, especially at dusk when I make my way to the mountain spring to refill my water jugs.
Q. What is a phrase or a quote that is resonating deeply with you right now?
"Darling, you feel heavy because you are too full of truth. Open your mouth more. Let the truth exist somewhere other than inside your body."
- Della Hicks-Wilson
It connects me with the sentiment of staying open and raw, tender and courageous. To be seen in all my colors, to be in the heart. So healing.
Follow along with Rocio @rociosgraves and explore more recipes in her project The Ones
Rocio wears the Hyeres Camisole in Ink