Last week I received the above message on social media from artist Ed Fornieles. The message went on: “I’m here to chat. Operated by a team of conversationalists, I’m here to respond to your needs, as a friend.”
What Fornieles has done is set up a team of ‘chatters’ who message people and talk about whatever they want. He says the conversations will go into the making of a future artwork. I decided, in the spirit of collaboration, that I’d take this opportunity to discuss the future of food. Below is an edited version of our chat. Ed has also asked me to say that the views represented are not necessarily his.
Cedar Lewisohn: What type of food do you like?
Ed Fornieles: We love food; we are vegan, so we like complicated recipes. We think it is calming sometimes to cook
CL- How about art and food? what does that mean to you?
EF- Well, Ed made a film about it.
EF- Nice sweater, we love the ghoul. What inspired you to use the cooking show format?
CL- The whole film is the work of artist Alexis Milne. He’s into The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the restaurant at the end of the universe. What do you think food in the future might be like?
EF: Perhaps more pre-prepared, packaged and rationed. We imagine end of world scenarios and food in that context; you?
CL: I guess there are a few ways to think about ‘food in the future’ – the end of the world scenario is one way, with water shortages and super high import taxes imposed on various goods in countries that have closed their borders. In a more positive way, I think the growth of meat-free cooking will continue. Have you seen the ‘impossible burger’ which is being developed? It’s meat free but is meant to taste as good as any regular burger. I think Bill Gates is funding it.
EF: Is the ‘impossible burger’ the one that they grow in a dish? New diets feel also inevitable with falling biodiversity; it’s a very good point that you bring up. It’s like insectivorism, which feels like it’s blowing up right now
CL: It’s a plant-based burger that has many of the same qualities as meat, in particular a compound called ‘heme’. This is apparently what makes blood red and what makes meat burgers taste good. Now they’ve made it from plants. What’s also interesting is that they have done all this in labs and through science, so it’s a kind of computer burger, or maybe even post meat. I’m keen to try it.
As for insectivorism, there is a lot of talk about cooking with insects right now. I’ve even seen a few artists doing cooking projects involving insects. It’s interesting but I’m not sure how new it is.
EF: It’s not new, but it’s definitely being branded as such at the moment. That said, the concept of the insectivore diet – that is one that takes on insect as protein over all other sources, so replacing meat and over-farmed vegetable alternatives like soy – is relatively new and still growing. Would you ever try insectivorism?
CL: Sure, I’d love to try something like that. Actually, I ate Amazonian ants at a high end place in São Paulo, Brazil, once – they tasted of lemongrass.
EF: Were they by themselves or mixed into some kind of unrecognizable patty?
CL: They were served with pineapple, totally recognizable – it’s a famous dish from chef Alex Alta.
EF: Is it exclusive to him, though?
CL: I think Alex Alta takes inspiration from the Amazon, and what people eat there.
EF: Insectivores are aware that this kind of diet is only ‘new’ to its target audiences. It’s important to remember that, we think.
CL: Yes, very true.