I started a vegan Insta food account. @foodloveartlife I started playing with color, texture, form, yes flavor, but I’m not a cook. I’m a goof in the kitchen and work strictly with what I know, bypassing recipes because I don’t have the patience. My daughter and I have spent countless hours dreaming of food concoctions, making as many trips to the local coop to get ingredients, and concocting beautiful experiences. Rarely a recipe book. Cookbook they call them. But we created extraordinary experiences, tastes, conversations. I found my way back to that. And the stories. We all have them- food stories. Growing up in the kitchen, roasting Oreo cookies with butter, crafting frozen ice cream cookie boats the size of small frisbees. At 2 a.m.
My knife is now my tool. I'm just figuring out how sharp I like my knives. I guess most kitchen people would say that. See how new I am? Im a ninja newbie. This all came about from a confluence of a lot of hours of yoga and meditation this week; post race, tired, and needing time off the bike. It released a lot of tension- here we go- and with all that yoga and meditation, I tapped into some softness, became hyperaware of the subtleties and textures of breath, of movement, of how the wind felt on my skin; and this overly sensitive person needed someplace to go with the information and sensations. I had finished a (longish) 12 hour mountain bike race a few days prior, podiumed, and thought: do I still like this? (answer not available yet) After a post race Netflix binge night, I banned myself from that entertainment and voilá, the food idea emerges. Then, I thought, let’s do away with the coffee. And the wine. That’s enough. And I wasn't eating well, not cooking at all, getting hungry.....resulting in a lot of bread and olive oil. So, let's not do that anymore.
That's a lot of restriction. The fact that it was such an impulsive response is interesting. I'm thinking- we've developed this habit to have to punish ourselves, in order to recreate a new food path? (read: 'dieting') How is this working to segway incrementally and effectively into different, healthier food experiences and relationships? This is how we all typically go about 'dieting', doing 'nutrition', making food relationship changes. Restriction is a subtle or not so subtle form of punishment, that usually has to feel like punishment to be valid in our minds. That ends up backfiring, because usually what we really need is to heal, not punish, something deeper in us; to craft a new relationship with ourselves, our bodies, then reignite a new food relationship.
Born: the Food Art Project (no trademark). I spend the first night of banned Netflix slicing root vegetables of all possible colors and non colors. Carving out forms on a plate- these; you can cut, shape, carve. Extraordinary shapes. Taking pics. I fall asleep doped up on food porn, mesmerized by the thousands of competent, even somewhat brilliant Insta accounts. Of course I knew. But I didn’t really know the scale. Actually, I did, but shut it out, in my effort to be a good tough athlete.
Next morning, 04:45, I’m up and drinking tea, kind of wanting coffee……..moving slowly but holding off on coffee. Ready for my next project. I craft a dozen things of different colors, in bowls; yogurt of all colors. Layering a parfait in a delicate champagne flute from Anthro. I roast up some granola, lay it out on a turkey platter and shoot. I’m intrigued I was inspired to create a turkey platter of fruit and granola. I don't have many plates. They're in storage. I have a 6" heart shaped white plate and a 2 foot wide turkey platter, wedding gift.
I take a nap. In fact, I take naps off and on all day. I’m not sure if I poisoned myself, or if I’m low on aminos again. I had a big training day yesterday and feel like I've been bonking all day. Nonetheless, I'm spent.
This next plate is more minimal (or just minimal, more minimal….?), with cucumber, green cauliflower- all green and pinks. On a heart shaped plate. It’s beautiful. Kind of pegs what I was really looking for. Light, delicate, full, not too minimal, more restrained. I’m relieved I could tap into it. Very fresh, felt like making a plate full of love. Not overwhelming. With restraint, patience, benevolence, beauty, calm. The kind of love that you rarely feel. And always want. But only find in a green cauliflower.
I take a nap. Again. (It's Sunday) And cruise more food porn. Then get a lavender donut, brought in from Santa Fe, daily. I dream about these donuts. Back to bed feeling drugged (later to find out I'm low on electrolytes), create the new Insta account and watch a very small handful of people 'follow'. I have a new identity, a new Insta identity. With kids half my age. Always the troubling part- which shouldn't be.
I create these things: colorful, appetizing, artful constructs. Close to sculpture, honestly, feels like painting again. And then I come across a book written by one of the chefs from NOMA, in Copenhagen, Mads Refslund. This draws me in, magnetizing my sense of purpose. He speaks to the person in me that’s righteously indigmatic about human indecency; our disrespect and mistreatment of the planet and ourselves.
Refslund, a fellow Dane himself, wrote a book. "Scraps, Wilt and Weed", a book that challenges chefs and us, consumers, to reconsider how and what we throw out. He asks us to look at the well known food industry waste. And he's mobilized by a personal creative challenge to reconstruct, revitalize and redeliver what he sees in the trash, behind translucent plastic bags.
I did a similar waste project with plastic trash years ago in Santa Fe, creating clothing and art installations out of recycled plastics. Picking up plastics at local grocery stores and contracting immigrant women to weave, sew and create these mostly plastic bags into massive pieces for the installation. It was a beautiful collaboration. I did work with recycled cast glass for years, and furniture from trees, fallen from controlled reforestation. But never recycled food.....
So, through Refslund's eyes, by reconstructing waste for consumption that's artful, tasty and competitive with brand spanking new products that we WANT to pay a fortune for, we are asked to stand in a mirror and look at our careless, cunsumptive behavior….This is good. I hope this gains momentum.
We'd have to change our taste buds, but if we learn to consume local, and less exotic, we can embrace and create with weeds and waste- that changes our taste palette; if we accommodate what's available, living now in the world we've created, not demanding so much more from a place that does not want to deliver. This is not what we're here to be grateful for- this food that we normally eat is our demise, our poison, drugging us with sensation that ultimately shuts down our ability to see how destructive the practice is.
We don’t need our blueberries flown in, or even our spices. We can continue to recreate from what we have, NOT recycle, but re-create....resisting the bright shiny shapes and overly stimulating tastes and textures.
That we can get creative with the downtrodden trash and bring it to rebellious beauty and learn to embrace and truly love our waste.
When that happens, we can start healing.
I know what my next food art project will be....