Art: Food – Bigger than the Plate

The latest immersive and interactive exhibition at V&A museum explores our current and future relationship with food, available until 20th October 2019, it brings together different innovators, communities and organisations to consider what collective choices will lead a more sustainable and delicious food future.

It is a topic that is close to my heart, food sustainability is a key concern of our times and rightly so. One has to consider how we will feed the world in the future where population growth is expected to reach close to 10 billion people by 2050  and without damaging our world even further. The V&A tastefully explores this question and gives us hope that there are people out there doing their best to change the world.

Key Highlights

The exhibition is split into 5 key components, starting with composting and navigated all the way to eating; representing the natural food cycle. I have highlighted my favourite pieces and new ideas from the exhibition below.

Composting

Compost is the organic matter that has been decomposed in a process called composting. This process recycles various organic materials otherwise regarded as waste products and produces a soil conditioner (the compost).

The exhibition starts off with the consideration that if you are a consumer, you are also a producer. If you eat, you produce waste – not just the fundamental human poop but also the by-products that come with food production.  It is a lot of waste and our usual reaction is just to get rid off it, it is “undesirable” and ends up in landfill or our oceans. It breaks the cycle of nutrients. This is exactly why we need to familiarise ourselves with the natural cycle of reproduction, growth and decay which returns organic waste to the soil to provide nutrients for future growth. Luckily there are a lot of smart people who have started to think outside the box!

  • Loowatt (2019) – Closes the loop on human waste, they have developed a waterless flush toilet and manages the collection, transfer and treatment of faecal sludge. Waste is converted to energy and fertiliser. An innovative and sustainable way to manage human waste across the globe.
  • Urban Mushroom (2019) – Oyster mushrooms growing on a bed of used coffee beans from the visitors of the V&A museum. This was an extraordinary way to recycle used coffee grounds which normally just end up in the landfill. Is this the future of farming in our cities?

Farming

Farming is the fundamental way to grow our food, however, there is a disconnect between us and how food ends up on the table. With the rise of human convenience, everything is packaged and beautifully displayed in our supermarkets; often from far-flung and exotic places. Recently I bought green grapes that came all the way from Brazil, and I had to stop and think – wait .. is this right? Should I not just eat produce that is in season? By being removed from the process and the slick machine of globalisation has meant that produce is available all year round – do we stop and think – how was this grown? where did it come from?

IMG_20190526_103343-01.jpeg

Key highlights for this section of the exhibition is the beautiful wall art by Fallen Fruit, which was inspired by depictions of fruit from the V&A collection.

Having lived in Hong Kong for two years, I was surprised and humbled to see that there is a small food revolution occurring and is being displayed back in London, my home town. HK Farm is a collective of artists, designers and farmers who grow food locally on rooftops and questions the values of the contemporary city in the process. Being able to grow and produce food right in the heart of one of the world’s greatest concrete jungle was refreshing to see.

I would also recommend everyone to take time to sit down and watch a video montage on European food production Our Daily Bread by Geyrhalter and Widerhofer (2005). It is not an easy watch, but necessary.

Trading

https://images.app.goo.gl/wNHqsRJyBQEKYaUX9

How do we get our food? How is it transferred to us? How many hands does it need to pass before we get to consume it? This section of the exhibition explores the globalisation machine and how it is easy to hide the environmental and social costs of food production.

  • Ester Hernandez: Sun Mad (2008) – This iconic poster (above) is by the Chicana (American – Mexican) artist Ester Hernandez, it was created to draw public attention on the human cost of the grape harvest, including the harmful effects of pesticides on pickers. In 2008 as displayed above, it was updated to include an “ICE” bracelet to signify the fate of many immigrants farmworkers working in the US.
  • Johanna Seelemann: Banana Story (2018) – This was another enlightening video on the world’s most popular fruit. It challenges the simplistic narrative of the “Made in” label. The video is a story of one banana who travels 8800km, crossing multiple national borders and 33 hands before landing on the shelves of a consumer.

Cooking

Evolution of cooking by Ferran Adrià was explored in this part of the exhibition, the head chef of El Bulli from 1987 until 2011, changed the way restaurants cook and serve food around the globe. His cooking extends beyond cooking and explores the deep history, in what he considers the fundamental part of human evolution. The drawings reflect his understanding and analysis of the development of cooking in human history.

Eating

IMG_20190526_111132-01.jpeg

Eating – my favourite part of the cycle and comes to the end of the exhibition. The most memorable display is “Self Made” by Christina Agapakis & Sissel Tolaas (2013)  and it is definitely not for the squeamish! Some of our tastiest food is made with the help of microbes. Cultured from some famous individuals such as Heston Blumenthal’s, their bacteria was used to produce cheese forming a “microbial portrait”. The project was to challenge our perceived notion of bacteria and develop understandings of the microbiome and its role in how our bodies function. Grim, but a must see.

A wonderful display and truly enlightening experience. I did come away feeling that I should reconsider becoming a full vegetarian though! As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the exhibition and your thoughts of food in general.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

 

Science: Whale Exhibition at the Natural History Museum

Hi Everyone! Welcome to another fun filled adventure on the Pineapple Chicken Blog. This post is especially close to my heart as it covered all my shenanigans my 28th birthday. As per tradition, I do not work on my birthday and took the day off. Luckily, my sister was also able to join me in my wanderings.

Palm Vaults, Hackney

First stop, I visited the most instagrammable cafe in London. I would honestly say that it was love at first sight! Pink and with hanging plants in pots, just my idea of heaven. The staff are super friendly and given that I was there around 12pm on a Tuesday the atmosphere was chilled. A great way to start the day.

They are famous for their smoothie bowls, so I ordered the mango smoothie bowl with blue algae. It was surprisingly not too sweet and refreshingly cold. If only the London weather was warmer! My sister ordered their banana cake topped with coffee mascarpone and cocoa nibs. Though sweet, the texture of the cake was dense and moist.

Accompanying my smoothie, I ordered the “layered matcha” drink. I had no idea what I was expecting but I really enjoyed it. My sister gave a scrunched-up face of dislike. It came iced and when mixed together became this rather unappetising grey/purple colour, (I am really not selling it!) but tastes of a refreshing matcha latte. I loved it and I would recommend it as a good alternative to coffee. My sister ordered an iced latte – good coffee, no complaints.

Though, Palm Vaults was out of the way for me, I really loved it there and it gets a smashing 4/5 pineapples from me. For the first time, I believed in the hype, so much so that my sister bought the t-shirt!

Temple of Hackney (Seitan), Hackney

Whilst I was already in the area, I thought I would go to the Temple of Hackney to try their vegan fried chicken. Yes, VEGAN! When I mentioned this to my colleagues the next day, everyone just gave me a “Gross”/”Yuck” comment, but that is because they are all meat eaters (haters!). I, on the other hand, am grateful that there is a restaurant out there trying to accommodate vegetarians and vegans need for fried chicken tasting things!

When we walked over from Palm Vaults (10 minutes), there was a queue outside of shop. The few seats out in the front were also filled with patrons. Clearly, there is a very loyal following. I spent a lot of time looking the menu. It was diverse, ranging from burgers to wraps to just the meat itself. They have chicken wings and pops with a variety of sides. This is definitely an attempt to being the real deal and not your average Chicken Cottage!

I decided to go for the 2-piece meal (fries and a drink) with a side of gravy as this is what I would have normally ordered when I was a meat eater. I was excited and anxious to see how seitan would taste as a meat alternative. For those who are unaware of seitan, it is made from wheat and has been used in many Asian dishes as a mock meat. I have had it in very traditional forms of cooking in Hong Kong temples but this is the first time I have had in a fast food context. It has been nearly a year since I have had fried chicken, so you can imagine how I was feeling (wiping the drools)!

I was disappointed with the food – I am sure I am upsetting many loyal patrons, so I would like to apologise in advance. Firstly, the gravy – do not order it. It was extremely watery and tasted like salty water. Considering I had paid £1 for a very tiny pot, it was not a good start. The size of the chicken pieces was large so you are getting your money’s worth. The batter was crispy but lacked texture – it was just a thin covering and the seitan, though flavoured was just a poor substitute. It is extremely dense and after a few bites, I gave up because I ended up chewing for too long. The fries were good, but I don’t think I need to go to a vegan fried chicken place for good chips.

I am glad that I tried because I have wanted to for a long time. However, I left disappointed and will not be going back any time soon, therefore, it only gets 1 pineapple out of 5 from me. (I apologise that I don’t have any photos of the food, I forgot to save the photo from instastory – FAIL)

Whales: Beneath the Waves – Natural History Museum

The grand finale of the day is visiting the Natural History Museum for their new whale exhibition to celebrate the new Blue Whale display (who has replaced our beloved Dippy the Dinosaur). The Natural History Museum is my favourite place in the whole of London, I have joined as a member and loved the fact that I can go to certain exhibitions for free and skip the long queues to get in! Personally, I think it is worth every penny and it is supporting an institution that pioneers in research, education and conservation (all my favourite things!).

I have seen part of the Whales: Beneath the Waves exhibition when I attended the launch party of the new Blue Whale display in the Hintze Hall (see some photos on my instagram) but didn’t have a chance to go all the way round. This time, dragging my sister along, I was looking forward to the rest of the exhibition. Though it was not as large as I hoped it to be, it was very informative. It is suitable for all ages filled with interactive activities and videos – it wasn’t just a bunch of skeletons and some letters on a wall.

The most memorable feature was the display showing the gestation stages of a whale. It was so bizarre and I was convinced that it was fake until my sister assured me that it was the real deal! They were perfectly formed but could fit onto a size of an A4 piece of paper. Mind-blown! Another impressive feature was the skeleton of the Thames Whale that sadly died in 2006.

I really enjoyed myself and I think the Natural History Museum did a great job of using other media to bring whales to life. It gets a solid 4 out of 5 pineapples. I left with a big smile on my face and an AWESOME retro baseball styled tee with a whale on it!

The exhibition is available until the 28th February 2018 and an adult ticket costs £11.50 online.

Until next time…

I am just organising all my photos but I hope to post about my day trip to Paris (and the shopping I did!). I have some exciting adventures this bank holiday weekend! AHHHH can’t wait to share that with you all as well. I hope you all have a wonderful week 🙂

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

  1. Do comment below if you think that there is anything I should visit or you would like me to review! (: