Each square had a different flavour and the audience were invited to consume the work.
The focus in 4000 Varieties of orange is on food monocultures and fragrance/flavour biodiversity. We used commercially made sponge cake made with wheat flour. Each piece of cake was individually coloured and flavoured eg apricot, apple, peach, steak, salmon, lemon, mushroom, beer, banana, raspberry, onion, chicken, tea, chocolate, boysenberry, cheese, potato, carrot, orange, roast lamb, brandy, peach, fish…..
We became interested in the power of synthetic flavouring to conjure visual images and in exploring synaesthetic experience of food. We carried out taste tests comparing real food flavours with synthetic flavours, for example a ripe apricot with apricot flavour, steak with steak flavour, apple with apple flavour, etc. The synthetic flavours : 'natural' and 'nature identical' were superb, conveying exact messages, and seem to be more real than the real fresh food flavours. Indeed as Jean Baudrillard states the simulacrum has superseded the real.
New associations are being made and our sense of taste is changing as it adapts to an increasing diversity of synthetic fragrance and flavour food additives. When consumed traces of these novel flavours may be included in the human plume which consists of a layer of warm air which rises into the atmosphere, carrying with it molecules from the skin of human bodies.
The materials that we had originally proposed for the project were the four monocultured ingredients of soy, wheat, rice and corn along with synthetic flavours which immediately conjure visual pictures in the mind’s eye. After weeks of cooking from dawn till dusk in the kitchen, experimenting with delightfully visual pies hand crafted from slabs of corn and wheat flour, and filled with synthetically – flavoured mixtures of seasoned soy meats and rice, we decided to use commercially made wheaten sponge cake that would give a pleasant taste experience so already has a positive hedonic value.
We were originally designing a themed dinner and dialogue for the Eco Sapiens residency participants and friends, intended as a pilot leading to further cultural dinner events, so we started the project making pies. Using a limited pallet of wheat, rice, soy and corn, we started experimenting in Auckland. We wanted to get the flavouring to work and develop pastry recipes to create pie sculptures.
Flavouring the pies was a challenge due to the complexities of combining texture, fragrance, flavour and visual attraction. We sought advice from award-winning chefs on recipes to create tasty pie fillings which we then adapted for the project ( using soy instead of meat.) We researched historic food ingredients and presentation, focusing on the creation of hand raised pies and sprung metal pie moulds.. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, pies were made in very elaborate shapes.
We referred to : Mrs Beetons Everyday cookery 1880/Ivan Day Historic Food
. Our palette was limited: Food staples /monocultures : wheat, rice, soy, maize,
. We use a large variety of food flavours : Flavour/Fragrance diversity : Formula Foods
An example of one of the pies was where we’d used chicken, beef and bacon flavourings to substitute for bird flesh. The filling was mock chicken—a type of soy protein. When the pie was opened we noticed a definite shift from the visual pleasure of the pie to olfacto/gustatory displeasure.
The work emerged from our EcoSapiens SCANZ residency in New Plymouth NZ 2010, and is a continuation of Raewyn's PLUME project with Dr Richard Newcombe
4000 varieties of Orange is exploring the constituents of the human plume.
Thankyou: Formula Foods a professional food technology company based in Christchurch, for their generosity in providing flavours.; Dr. Richard Newcomb, Plant and Food Research, and House of Aroha for the Aprons –designed and printed by Rakai Karaitiana