Summer 2004

Ingestion / Food Games

Setting the table for play

Allen S. Weiss

“Ingestion” is a column that explores food within a framework informed by aesthetics, history, and philosophy.

Throw a party and invite only those whose names (to be found in your local phone book; this obviously suggests a large city) are homonyms of famed people in specific domains, inspired by the party that Daniel Spoerri threw to celebrate his professorship, where he invited all the Friedrich Nietzsches, Georg Hegels, Immanuel Kants, etc., of his city. Print a menu and have it signed by all present.

See Daniel Spoerri, “La faim du C.N.A.C.,” in Allen S. Weiss, ed., Taste, Nostalgia (New York: Lusitania Press, 1997).

Make two parallel lists: everything that you ate for a month, and everything that you wanted to eat for a month. Describe the existential crisis that follows.

See Daniel Spoerri, Topographie anecdotée du hasard [1962] (Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1990).

The Goops from Gelett Burgess’s Goops and How to Be Them (1900).

Imagine a food fight different from those in kindergarten. Rabelais describes a battle where the principal weapon was a fouace, a type of brioche.

See the Iron Chef television show as a possible model.

Invent a new farce, in both senses of the word: stuffing and joke. I would propose a stuffed quail egg in a stuffed goose egg in a stuffed ostrich egg.

See the description of the suckling pig stuffed with live thrush in Petronius’s Satyricon.

Do a color-coded meal. So far, I find that the only monochromatic meals that really work gastronomically are white, red, and black.

See Joris-Karl Huysmans, À rebours [1891] (Paris: Gallimard / Folio, 1977).

Imagine (or perform) some positive act of gastronomic vandalism or iconoclasm. José Bové’s sacking of a French McDonald’s as a symbolic act of anti-globalization is perhaps the most famous contemporary example.

See David Freedberg, The Power of Images (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989).

Describe the best and the worst meals you have ever had. The comparison of the two descriptions should reveal new aspects of your unconscious.

See Carolin C. Young, Apples of Gold in Settings of Silver (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002).

Create an entire meal of “analytic” dishes, such as Alain Senderens’s renowned dessert at Lucas Carton, a coconut sorbet with fried pineapple and a glass of rum: a decomposed piña colada.

Use any recipe from any cookbook whatsoever, decomposing the chosen dish into at least three separate components.

Create a pièce montée (decorative pastry or sugar artwork.) This art must be resuscitated, popularized, enjoyed.

See Antonin Carême, Le pâtissier pittoresque [1815] (Paris: Mercure de France, 2003).

Create your own food games. Please note that a successful food game is one that improves taste, heightens pleasure, deepens knowledge. Sheer provocation is frowned upon.

Author’s Note
The references are intended as interferences or overtures, not as examples or exemplifications.

Allen S. Weiss, editor-at-large at Cabinet, is the author of many books, including Feast and Folly: Cuisine, Intoxication, and the Poetics of the Sublime (SUNY) and Breathless: Sound Recording, Disembodiment, and the Transformation of Lyrical Nostalgia (Wesleyan).

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