A Microwave Generation

Initially, when my group conceived and idea for the Week 12 meal that revolved around microwaves, I wondered whether perhaps using microwaves removed some of the ‘magic’ of a shared meal; then, upon remembering the Tokyo Picnic Club, I realised that what we were really proposing was a picnic with a convenient method of on-site cooking.

That aside, I then started to wonder about the significance using of microwaves, and the significance of cooking, and I realised that the worth of one lifestyle over another depends largely on your perspective.

If one comes from a family that actively cooks all their meals, for example, and has a hearty diet, they would likely view microwaveable meals as being lazy and unhealthy.

But, to introduce a third perspective, I come from a family that grows almost all our food; even if, here in the city, I buy all my own food and then cook all my own meals, city living will never live up to the diet I have back at home. We plant the trees. We spend hours in harsh weather maintaining the orchid. We argue over which trees to get rid of and which ones to keep. We wash dirt off vegetables and collect eggs from our chooks–and the taste. Nothing I eat in the city has ever compared to the divine, succulent, utterly wonderful taste of homegrown produce. We are involved in every single aspect of the food we eat; no pesticides, no chemicals, no impurities. Even the water we use is tank-supplied. To me, the food I buy in the city is impure, and tastes vastly different. The closest I can come is buying food from places like Queen Victoria Markets, and even then it isn’t the same.

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So, you see, it all depends on perspective. Is it not our duty to explore all perspectives? To understand every person’s way of life? To delve into the world of microwaveable convenience, if only to appreciate the differences between the lives we live?

Kate Kidson-Purry, posted 23 August 2016, various original dates, photographs.

Microwave Proposal

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One of my groups’ ideas proposed in the Friday Artlier space was that Week 12′s meal could revolve around the use of microwaves; most households use a microwave, after all, and in this fast-moving 21st century world they’re both convenient and widely used. Our group considered being involved in the Locate management division, creating a map of all the microwaves on campus which groups have to find in order to participate in the meal. It would turn the event into something of a game, wherein groups have to make food and bring it back to wherever the central meal is occurring. This model would also mean that people could make food elsewhere the night before, therefore solving logistical issues of how/where food will be made for so many people. 

I would also be curious to experience the various ‘quick meals’ that have been created in impressions of traditional cultures’ food- we were discussing appropriation on Friday, and what better example than the speed of modern life demanding quick feeds? It reminds me of Edward Way’s vending machines series; how technology has become an inherent and endearing factor within our lives, and must therefore be addressed as something that impacts almost every first-world person directly.

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Edward Way, EW, Jidouhanbaiki, photographs, Edward Way, viewed 13 August 2016, http://www.citylab.com/tech/2016/06/japans-vending-machines-hiding-in-plain-sight-edward-way/485333/.

Experience and memory, as discussed in class, is central to food and dining. Whenever my family has come to Melbourne through the years (before I moved here), we always stayed in the same Carlton apartments, and always went to Tiamo Restaurant (tiamo meaning ’I love you’, in Italian). It’s full of old maps and signs (even an old Spencer St Station sign!), posters and notes, and (strangely) a serviette, covered in mathematical formulas, taped to the wall with blue band aids. This morning, I spoke to the owner about the signs up everywhere, discovering that most had come from his grandfather’s collection, and others were bought from a trader in Melbourne.

The waiters speak with strong accents and often get your order wrong. The kitchen is noisy and one waiter in particular walks around whistling songs I don’t recognise. The food is full of flavour and spice and personality. I adore this place. It’s so memorable and warm and satisfying. I hope to keep coming here with my family, over the years.

If anyone’s interested, here’s the website;

http://www.tiamo.com.au/

I highly recommend this place.

Kate Kidson-Purry, 29 July 2016, photographs of Tiamo.

What Do You Consume?

It occurred to me today (while I was taking the tram back from our Soup-er gathering) that my group’s proposal for our planned event could very well be based around this question.

Of course, it has obvious practical implications around consuming food, but has far more meaning when one considers the meaning behind gathering for a meal. Like Andy was saying today, ‘it’s about socialising’. Meals have significance that extends further than food itself- family, for one. Food is a catalyst for conversation, for understanding, for interaction and marking an event in time. The model of event that my group has proposed is based around the idea of sharing culture; what better way to eclipse such an experience than asking, ‘what do you consume?’. What food do we consume? What emotions and memories do we consume? What do we thrive on, when we gather for meals?

Christmas, for example, is more a time of mourning than celebration for my family; meals eaten on Christmas, for us, are momentous and highly significant. We gather in a rotunda, roast a turkey, drink wine, play the Best Hits of Paul Kelly… It isn’t a ‘happy’ time, per se, but it is important for us all to be together.

It’s memories like that which attach themselves to food, to meals, to recipes. It’s memories like that which should be shared. We, as people, have consumed so much, and our unique experiences have shaped us.

So, I suppose, the question might instead be, ‘what consumes us?’.

My (Soup) Kitchen Rules

My Group’s Suggestions:

  • Spills happen
  • Everyone brings their own eating utensils (cups, bowls, spoons)
  • There is a tip jar on site for voluntary contributions
  • People should contribute to the Lucky Dip Recipe Box, thereby providing material for following weeks
  • Everyone who is involved in the event should assist with cleaning up
  • Voluntary cooking roster, week-to-week (contact Andy?); multiple soups can cater for allergies and alternative eating regimes
  • Allergies list
  • Recipes available upon request, to combat allergies and such
  • If spill occurs, do not assume the field position
  • Everyone should wear a hat

Class Suggestions:

  • Colourful cups
  • Recipes available, to cater for allergies and dietary requirements
  • One single soup
  • Feedback should be received
  • Should be mindful of waste
  • Soup is for everyone
  • Cannot be too hot or too cold (portable element)
  • Have a voting poll for next week’s recipe?
  • Seasoning avaliable at the event
  • Possible documentation of events (possible Instagram, with hashtag as communication method?)
  • Menu provided?

Manifest Draft

Manifest Draft:

Each person is to bring enough ingredients to the meal to serve at least ten people. They will then be paired with someone else, who has brought their own ingredients and recipe. They will cook the other person’s meal, at their instruction, thereby immersing themselves fully in the other person’s culture.

The experience will be shared by both participants, in a kitchen where other pairs are also cooking. This will allow people to wander the room, at intervals throughout cooking, to glimpse other cultures.
This assignment model will ensure that the available meals will cater for every individual with any special dietary needs, as well as educating others as to ‘alternative’ eating practices. People operating in pairs also ensures a more involved and intimate experience of another culture’s cooking practices, rather than one person showing multiple people how to cook; this model removes the concept of an audience.

Notes from Class:

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More stuff to be added!!