For the very first deployment of the LOCI food lab, we set up at the First Thursday street side event in Portland, Oregon. It was very exciting to feed about 100 people in the space of 2.5 hours. The majority of our eaters seemed to be intrigued that they were being fed by artists, and were very interested that their own bite-sized bioregionalism was being “plated” in front of them. With 6 components, the plating was a performance similar to what you see at a Chaat stand in India, one of our main sources of inspiration for this project. In future iterations I would like to continue to play up the performance of plating, both because it communicates a generosity and attention to detail that we think the future of food needs more of, but also because it speaks to the goal of “bioregional food research in public and in the street,” or as it has also been termed “NOMA for the people”.
At least 1/3 of the visitors to the stand were not from Portland arriving from Massachusetts, Florida and South Africa. Only one visitor did not like the flavor of the food, the majority smiled and said they enjoyed the experience, and about 25% of visitors seemed truly moved by a novel flavor experience.
A few visitors gave suggestions for other possible bioregional or seasonal ingredients including: blackberries, hops and chanterelle mushrooms. For a first round of research and experimentation, we were happy with the ingredients and the overall dish, but I think we want to continue to push ourselves beyond the ingredients and flavors that are already ubiquitous in “Pacific Northwest Cuisine”. This is easier said than done, because seasonal and bioregional eating, and real time culinary research are already pretty well represented in Portland. As we take this project to other geographies and food cultures, it is likely that we will need to leave more time for research and experimentation.
What is LOCI FOOD LAB?
A framework for investigating the past, present and future of bioregional cuisine, and sharing these discoveries with a large audience at street level.
What is bioregionalism?
“Bioregionalism is a political, cultural, and ecological system or set of views based on naturally defined areas called bioregions, similar to ecoregions. Bioregions are defined through physical and environmental features, including watershed boundaries and soil and terrain characteristics. Bioregionalism stresses that the determination of a bioregion is also a cultural phenomenon, and emphasizes local populations, knowledge, and solutions.” (Wikipedia)