TEXTS

CALLING ALL BETA-TASTERS & GASTRONAUTS (2012)

Recipes are a persuasive technology. They can transform people fundamentally. Recipes can make people desire ingredients they didn’t even know existed. An ingredient, once thought of as repulsive, can be transformed into something palatable, and even delicious. A recipe can compel people to explore new places, within their own city or across the planet, searching for an obscure ingredient. Don’t underestimate the power of recipes.

Recipes are a social technology. Passed from person to person, adjusted to suit individual preferences, recipes can be tracked across cultures and through time. One year someone extols the health properties of pomegranates, and all of a sudden they are being sprinkled on salads and desserts all over the world. As a trendy, must-have ingredient, recipes that call for pomegranates increase the impetus for growing and importing these fruits. There are of course upstream decisions made from boardrooms that influence which crops are grown, but conversations in the kitchen can also be powerful selection mechanisms. (For one critique of eaters ‘voting with their forks’, see the essay Food, A Com- promised Issue by the philosopher of science Huub Dijstelboem in the book Food for the City by NAi publishers.)

Recipes are a subversive technology. Telling everyone to be a vegetarian is cultural engineering. This meme won’t travel very far by itself. People don’t like being told what to do. Writing and sharing a delicious menu that involves no meat products is a more generous and transformative strategy.

Recipes are a technological artifact. They have rules and shapes and sizes that most people are familiar with. Recipes delineate methods for acquiring, assembling, preparing and serving food. They are also meta-technologies: the rules for writing recipes can be changed.

In this book you will find recipes. Some of them are delicious, others are strange, and most of them are provocative, requiring adventurous cooks and eaters. We asked two talented and fearless chefs (Heather K. Julius, Special Snowflake Studio and Scott Heimendinger, aka Seattle Food Geek.) to respond to our speculations on the future with something tangible. Something most people could make in their kitchen and eat. The resulting recipes are found in this book. We invite you to become a beta-taster. 

PrayForBeans

Essay From: Eat Less, Live More & Pray for Beans