Test Kitchen | Chlorination Chicken

January 11, 2021

As part of our current research project Brexit Banquet, the Center is exploring how farmers, chefs, policy-makers and eaters will adapt to changing realities and flavours of a disrupted food system post-Brexit. 

In order to pre-enact a disrupted food system and preemptively—explore, experience and taste—these changes, we have devised 5 dishes that start to sample a future where every aspect of food culture, soil health and agricultural biodiversity will need to be reconsidered, and will be contested in real time. 

How the US cleans up.

During October 2020 Eileen Reiner (Brexit Banquet lead researcher) has been hands-deep in lamb lung, and knee-deep in farmland exploring the boundaries of her own personal culinary norms, getting over some squeamishness, and getting in touch with the current and future food system of Great Britain.

Farm visits, test kitchens and ingredient procurement at local retail outlets have each been opportunities to explore culinary biodiversity – the abundance and distribution of ingredients in and around where I live.


The fourth dish on the Brexit Banquet test kitchen menu is Chlorination Chicken. The US cleans up in a future where coronation becomes chlorination chicken. UK farmers compete with cheaper chlorine washed US Chicken that chill in the fridges of British supermarkets as part of a US/UK trade deal. 

Speculating on food futures as they simultaneously unfold is a somewhat untidy and ironically unpredictable endeavor. As I gather the photographs and reflect on my experience of this week’s Test Kitchen cook, I realise that the chlorinated chicken is another perfect example of this.

With the new move to put food standards into primary legislation and media headlines such as  ‘UK will not import chlorinated chicken from US, or negotiate to remove ban on hormone-fed beef’ it seems that the values of a Farm to Fork, safety first and an animal welfare approach to agriculture has prevailed over ‘cheap and cheerful’ so far. There is a reported move to make the government’s new trade and agriculture commission a statutory body, advising on future trade deals. 

The following is a documentation of a possible future dish at a time where the prospect of chlorination chicken was very much on the table…

The motive: 

For decades coronation chicken was glorified in Britain as our Sovereign’s dish. Coronation chicken symbolised the taste of place for the British Empire and Commonwealth. How ironic it seems that this very dish may be directly compromised by imported chlorinated chicken post Brexit. With its mix of flavours and mild British take on Indian spices, it was originally created as an answer to what to serve 350 foreign dignitaries attending a banquet following the Queen’s coronation in 1953. At the time, it could also have been speculated to reflect Britain’s stiff upper lip, as it was still living with post-war rations and the ingredients were not easy to come by. Likewise as post-brexit chicken prices from the UK and the rest of Europe may seem less alluring in comparison, will we turn to the cheaper alternative: chicken from the US, bathed in chlorine to kill potentially harmful bacteria? In a future where US chickens chill in between EU chicken and British chickens, will it be up to the consumer to ultimately decide? Food standards, animal welfare, or price? The battle of the values may commence as Coronation Chicken is still served in traditional cafes and found in the occasional sandwich on our convenience store shelves, but will it be as popular as it once was? Will the British public be forced to reflect on the dismantling of previous laws and farming standards as they stomach a cold, chlorinated serving of our compromising times? 

The procurement:

Although arguably an acquired taste, I am guessing that the practicality of this dish has played a part in enabling its long lived popularity Since the 50s. Found in all sorts of forms from sandwich filler to salad topper and even starring on buffet spreads, this usually cold dish is quick to prepare and can easily transform last night’s chicken leftovers. Timed accordingly, this dish’s chicken was portioned off from the chicken satay I had cooked the night before.

I found a British chicken in my local supermarket – Sainsbury’s (the second largest British supermarket chain) and the herbs, nuts and spices came from my a store called Taaj with the tagline: ‘the very best ingredients the world has to offer’.

(Of Course the true procurement for this dish would involve me reaching for the chicken branding a US flag and pre-bathed in chlorine. Most probably found laying side by side with British-produced, although cheaper in price. Given my current circumstances however, the chicken I purchased was labelled British free range – ‘Our free range chickens are slow growing & free to roam in fields’. This gave me some indication that it was also raised adhering to certain living standards currently set by EU law on issues such as space, ammonia levels, and even lighting. The fear of the prospect of a chlorine wash does not seem to concern the chlorine itself, but rather its ability to cover up other poor agricultural practices.)

The cook

Deciding to fry two different versions of the chicken as a taste experiment, I marinated one portion of raw chicken with olive oil, lemon zest and a mix of paprika, turmeric and cumin and the other with olive oil and lemon zest, salt and pepper before setting it aside. 

I then turned my attention to the highlight of the coronation sauce – the curry dressing. I simply sauteed shallots, chillies, curry powder, tomato puree, white wine, jam and chicken stock in a pan. Once cooled I mixed the curry dressing in with a bowl of mayonnaise and creme fresh, folding in lemon juice, spring onions and coriander as I mixed. Voila, the coronation sauce.

Time to fry the chicken! After the chicken was fried I simply mixed it into the bowl of sauce, topping the cold curry with sprinkled almonds and apricots and served it on a bed of lettuce leaves. 

The outcome

Coronation becomes chlorination chicken in a future where we are forced to reflect on our agricultural values as we accept chlorine washed chicken from the US as a condition of a UK US trade agreement, and stomach a cold serving of our compromising times. 

Test Kitchen | Lamb and Four Clover

January 7, 2021

As part of our current research project Brexit Banquet, the Center is exploring how farmers, chefs, policy-makers and eaters will adapt to changing realities and flavours of a disrupted food system post-Brexit. 

In order to pre-enact a disrupted food system and preemptively—explore, experience and taste—these changes, we have devised 5 dishes that start to sample a future where every aspect of food culture, soil health and agricultural biodiversity will need to be reconsidered, and will be contested in real time. 

Lamb for breakfast, lamb for lunch,
lamb for tea, lamb for brunch

During October 2020 Eileen Reiner (Brexit Banquet lead researcher) has been hands-deep in lamb lung, and knee-deep in farmland exploring the boundaries of her own personal culinary norms, getting over some squeamishness, and getting in touch with the current and future food system of Great Britain.

Farm visits, test kitchens and ingredient procurement at local retail outlets have each been opportunities to explore culinary biodiversity – the abundance and distribution of ingredients in and around where I live.

Foraged clovers
Lamb and Four Clover


I would like to invite you into my Test kitchen on the South coast of the English Lowlands beech forests ecoregion— to get a sneak peek into the experiments and process of realising these speculative dishes, using what is currently available to me in my local area. The following is the first dish that was prototyped in our research, which may see further refinements in the following months. The third dish on the Brexit Banquet test kitchen menu is Lamb and Four Clover.

The motive: 

This dish showcases clover flowers as an exciting new herb as we ‘eat what we eat eats’ in an attempt to get through £500m pounds worth of lamb!

Are we to have lamb for breakfast, lamb for lunch, lamb for dinner, and lamb for dessert in a post Brexit no deal scenario? The UK’s main market for lamb exports continues to be the EU, with over 90% of total UK sheep meat exports going there during 2019. In Fact, many British farmers are reported to be so heavily reliant on trade with the EU that last year it was speculated that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Boris Johnson was planning to buy almost the entirety of Wales’s slaughtered lambs in an attempt to settle the potential civil unrest in rural areas if farmers were to be faced with expensive new tariffs. £500m worth of lambs to be exact! It seems there may be pressure to up the ante on our consumption! Bucket of fried lamb anyone?

Could a traditional Sunday roast become a daily meal, accompanied by some exciting new herbs and sides to diversify the dish? The very herbs that the lambs graze on themselves…

Clover and other Ley pastures such as Chicory, Ribgrass, Legumes, sainfoin, birdsfoot, trefoil, Clover Peas and beans are increasingly grown up and down the country in Biodynamic farms for livestock to graze on. Could they make their way into our cuisine as foodies and farmers alike turn to these tasty greens, which are key to new farming techniques that replenish our depleted soils and ecosystems that are much needed for an independent Britain? 

The procurement:

The first question was where was I going to find fresh clover and what season do they grow? I was invited by a friend to come and visit her at the Biodynamic Botanic Garden at Emerson College and forage some clover from the Biodynamic community farm next to the plot. They had been planted as herbal Leys in their masses. In biodynamics ‘The whole farm, including the garden, is treated as a single organism. Activities are connected and dependant on a symbiotic relationship with the environment.’ Hence the plantation of nitrogen-fixing clovers that aid the animals, the soil, and the insects – especially bees!

Fields of clover

I came across a rack of Welsh Lamb in my local supermarket along with the rest of the ingredients. 

The plan 

Once I got the clover home I started to brainstorm, what I was going to do with them? There are so many ways that one could eat clover. Teas, puddings, sauces, pestos, jams, salads…The original dish idea exemplifies 4 possible ways. For this particular cook I will experiment with two.

My stock was limited as I did not want to take too many flowers. I therefore landed on 2 condiments for now. Swayed by the sweet taste of the clover I decided to make Mint and clover sauce, and clover jelly. Inspired by the classic cranberry jelly and mint sauce enjoyed alongside traditional Sunday roasts…

The cook

Finished jelly to the left, mint and clover sauce to the right

The Mint & Clover Sauce:

Mint & clover
Ingredients for Mint & clover sauce

Making Mint & Clover Sauce:

Process: Mint & clover sauce

I started by stripping the mint leaves and flower heads from their stalks and washed them. I lightly steamed the clover flowers in a pot, and steeped the finely chopped mint leaves in boiling water for a few minutes to release the flavour. I then added malt vinegar and sugar to a small bowl and stirred to dissolve the sugar. I then added the drained chopped mint and clover flowers and put the whole concoction in the fridge to let the flavour develop.

Finished mint & clover sauce

The Clover Jelly: 

Ingredients for clover-jelly

Clover Jelly Process:

The Jelly was pretty easy! I began heating up 2 cups of clover infusion that I had made the night before. I added 4 cups of sugar and 1/4 cup of lemon juice, stirring as it heated. Using my jam thermometer I waited for that infusion to heat to 220 degrees. It was at that point that I added a packet of pectin and stirred letting it boil for two more minutes. 

Process: Clover-Jelly

With the condiments prepared and maturing it was time to cook the roast!

The outcome

This turned out to be my favourite dish yet! Being a long time fan of a good Sunday roast, however I may be slightly biased. The lamb chops were cooked to a medium-well done. Succulent and full of flavour, they were a perfect stage to the new sweet accompanying flavour of the clover flower. Together with the mint and herbs the diverse flavours created a fresh sweet and savoury balance.

Whilst ploughing through this dish, I started thinking about all the other edible Leys pastures and what else you could do with them. From chicory to the classic pea there was surely a new recipe book waiting to be written…

In a future where there is an abundance of lambs all over the UK that graze on these mixtures of legumes and grasses, will we support our farmers whilst becoming more aware of food security, healthy livestock and natural capital as we say, ‘Eat what you eat eats!’.

Fermentation Workshop: Lab Notes + Results

November 13, 2020

In September & October 2020, our studio conducted an internal master-class with Dr. Johnny Drain, guiding us through ways to further explore fermentation. We have been running separate experiments in our homes and our studios and below we will share the basic results here with you. Having members 6+ members of the Center for Genomic Gastronomy across the globe attending these workshops, we have been able to work with a wide variety of different raw materials for our fermentation experiments.


Akash’s fermentation experiments

Akash’s experimented with the local produce of Chennai had some exiting colors coming forth from the button mushrooms. After a few days the liquid turned a bright yellow color from the mushroom spores.

Lacto-ferment with bitter gourd, challots, chayote and cluster beans


Working with different resources in our different parts of the world, we were keeping our eye out for what food resources were in abundance in the early autumn. Emma in Portugal experimented with figs, lacinato kale and brown button mushrooms that ended up in lacto-ferments and a surf & turf kimchi.

Experimenting with fermenting fish to garum, a months-long process, is not yet finished. In Portugal, you can go to streetmarkets where fresh ‘patinga’ (small fish) are auctioned off early in the morning among other resources. In ancient Greece and Rome, garum was a popular and widely used condiment, also referred to as liquamen.

Emmas fermentation experiments
Emmas road to locally sourced seaweed
Buying petinga (small fish) in the early morning

Emmas fermented figs have been tasted and tried out as topping on pancakes with a dollop of yoghurt, and her mushroom fluids was turned into a tasty mayonnaise with recipe below.

Emmas pancakes with youghurt & fermented fig-topping

Emmas’ Mushroom Mayonnaise:

  • 1 egg (vegan: switch it out for ~45ml of aquafaba)
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tbs fluids of fermented mushrooms
  • a splash of vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp mustard (optional)
  • salt/pepper to taste

— blitz all and slowly add:

  • ~3/4 cup olive oil (or until it reaches desired creamy consistency)


Fermentation experiments from studio members in Norway, Bergen

In Bergen, our studio members Cat and Zack, Pauliina and Eirin worked collectively and separately with fermenting abundance. They also experimented with making garum from locally sourced mackerel. Having an abundance in root-vegetables, they also worked with making vegan charcuterie, both with and without koji (Aspergillus oryzae).

Considering the cooking aspects of microbial experimenting, thinking and working with the texture and thickness of the different foods, we experienced how they reacted over time to the solutions we helped cook them in. The plums created a tasty liquid, but the flesh of the fruit broke down quite quickly, so we could consider how to texturally bring them to another level, maybe through dehydration, or simply as a purée.

Fermenting abundance process in Norway, Bergen
Lacto-ferment with Norwegian red-onions, carrots, kohl-rabi and aromatics
Drying of vegan charcuterie root-vegetables

We turned our vegan charcuterie drying process into a vegetable mobile twirling over our heads as we worked on our other projects, always reminding us of our microbial cooking to be eaten later.

Experiments with koji-fermented carrots

Studio-member Eirin experimented with vegan charcuterie with carrots inoculated with koji-spores, a friendly fungi developed over centuries in cooking culture in Japan. Keeping the good development of the inoculation was a challenge in a hacked breeding environment, and the koji ended up sporulating earlier than anticipated. However, the carrots turned out to a tasty treat — the carrots texture could be described as that of a dried apricot, but not as sticky, salty and with striking licorice notes in both texture and taste.


Each member of the Center will likely continue to experiment with fermentation in their home kitchens, and the one technique that is likely to be revisited in a more rigorous way is the vegan charcuterie (with Koji spores) that we will likely use for either our Pantry of Protein Futures research or the Meatigation project we are a part of in Norway.

Test Kitchen | fish in chicks

October 29, 2020

Part 1 of BREXIT BANQUET: A Historical Pre-Enactment.

As part of our current research project Brexit Banquet, the Center is exploring how farmers, chefs, policy-makers and eaters will adapt to changing realities and flavours of a disrupted food system post-Brexit

In order to pre-enact a disrupted food system and preemptively—explore, experience and taste—these changes, we have devised 5 dishes that start to sample a future where every aspect of food culture, soil health and agricultural biodiversity will need to be reconsidered, and will be contested in real time. 

New needs, new breeds.

During October 2020 Eileen Reiner (Brexit Banquet lead researcher) has been hands-deep in lamb lung, and knee-deep in farmland exploring the boundaries of her own personal culinary norms, overcoming some squeamishness, and getting in touch with the current and future food system of Great Britain.

Farm visits, test kitchens and ingredient procurement at local retail outlets have each been the methods used to explore culinary biodiversity: the abundance and distribution of ingredients available nearby, for use in the kitchen.

DISH 1: Fish in Chicks


I would like to invite you into my test kitchen—on the South coast of the English Lowlands beech forests ecoregion—to get a sneak peek into the experiments and process of realising these speculative dishes, using what is currently available to me in my local area. The following is the first dish that was prototyped in our research, which may be further refined in the following months.

Fish in Chicks Recipe

The motive:

The first dish on the Brexit Banquet test kitchen menu is Fish in Chicks.
This intercontinental take on the traditional Fish and Chips looks at the recent history of imported ingredients from abroad that have become British culinary staples, in this case: chickpeas (often processed into hummus). Chickpeas eaten in Britain are usually imported from Asian countries. In 2017, India produced 67% of the global total. Climate change has been reported to have disrupted this flow with the 2018 droughts in India affecting international chickpea supplies. 

Post Brexit there is likely to be a focus on British-grown crops, self-dependency and a new framing of what “food security” means, due to import/export disruptions, trade deal negotiations and generally chaotic transitions. It seems likely that there will be a conversation and action on stimulating the production of crops that are eaten but not grown in Britain.

Will changes in climate, and trade disruption necessitate or enable previously imported chickpeas to be grown on British soil? Will there be an era of seed breeding to satisfy our diverse tastes post Brexit? 

Hodmedods have been experimenting and have succeeded in growing the first lentils, chia seeds and chickpeas on British soil in Norfolk.

The chickpea water (Aquafaba) has been growing in popularity as an egg alternative, and chickpea flour is on the uptake. I have seen this versatile pulse use in both sweet and savoury dishes such as chickpea nuggets, brownies, cakes, not to mention in falafels and dips.

Could chickpea even make it into some of the UK’s traditional dishes as a substitute for wheat flour in chip shop batter? As for the chips themselves, the UK has plenty of fresh potatoes, but most of their frozen potatoes—mainly used for chips—comes from the EU. I found the following recipe for the chickpea fish batter online, which means there are people out there already experimenting with chickpea battered fish!

The Dish:

Fish in Chicks plated

The Shopping:

The thought that I should have prepped this shop earlier started to loom as I scanned down the diverse list in front of me and flicked through the local supermarket stocklist (my Amazon account waiting as a backup in the next tab). I then remembered that I am lucky enough to have Taj, a specialist food shop with ‘The very best ingredients the world has to offer’ right at the bottom of my road! 

A spice trail: 

The chickpea batter wouldn’t be half the sensorial surprise without a mix of spices. I must admit I felt pretty bewildered and a tad embarrassed about being so lost in the powdered spice section of Taj. I have always been aware that the spices I commonly use in my kitchen are only the tip of the Iceberg (if that) but the choice in front of me now spanned the entirety of an isle. I spent what felt like half an hour reading every small package label, until I found the four ingredients on my list: Garam masala powder, Madaras Curry powder, Tumeric powder and Red chilli. 

Ingredients measured & ready

A desperate seaweed resurrection:

What inspires me about this dish is the combination of traditional foods and ingredients across internal and external cultures. Laver cake is a simple traditional Welsh seaweed pattie often enjoyed by fishermen or on the side of fried Breakfasts. It looked right up my street, and I thought it might be an exciting replacement for the chips, although I have to say I had never tasted or heard of it before! Surprisingly, the main ingredient laverbread (a popular welsh product of canned seaweed) was nowhere to be found here in Brighton. 

Laverbread — nowhere to be found in Brighton

No laverbread = no lavercake? I remembered that my mum uses seaweed as an additive in her humous and that you can, of course, bring dried seaweed back to life if you soak it! So I found myself in the local chinese food store buying two packets of dried Kombu seaweed for the blender. Let’s see how this goes! 

Taj also stocked chickpea flour, and the rest of the ingredients were pretty easy to find in my local supermarket.

Lavercake process

The Cook:

Highlights of the cook included…

Prepping the seaweed for the Lavercake: I Soaked the dried Kombu overnight, diced it and put it in the blender to see if I could re-create laverbread. Any readers familiar with lavercake may be cringing…but I am always up for an experiment! For the Lavercake mixture, I mixed the blended seaweed with the oat mill and added a bit of salt for good measure then put it to one side. This mixture would later be rolled into balls and squished into satisfyingly round little patties for frying.

Seaweed prepping

The Chickpea batter prep: Mixing all the herbs and spices along with the chickpea flour and sparkling water in a big mixing bowl had all the familiarity of batter but looked vibrantly unknown and exciting….! As I mixed the batter I started to fantasise about what the combination of cod, batter and Indian spice might taste like.

Spices for batter

The Cod: The cod was fresh from Sainsbury’s fish counter. I wonder where the Cod was caught? They promote themselves to be ‘the UK’s largest retailer of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)’ and ‘responsibly sourced’ fish. On their website I noticed that they also sell coley. Coley is part of the cod family and inhabits coastal water of the UK. ‘Lots of British fish is exported because we’re less familiar with it, so why not try something new? Choosing succulent coley will help us prevent overfishing, reduce discards and you’ll save money, too.’

The Cod had a beautiful side of mottled scales that in the right light had an almost fluorescent pinky-purple sheen to them. Something that you don’t really get to see once disguised in its batter casing in the local fish and chip fish shop. 

Beautiful codskins

The outcome:

The chickpea battered cod itself was every bit of the discovery I’d hoped it would be! I could definitely taste the chickpea and a blend of all the Indian spices that accompanied it nicely, but with the comforting familiar grease of chip shop batter, and light fluffy cod to balance it all out. 

As for the Welsh Lavercakes, I could definitely see the potential but am sure that somewhere between choosing lard over bacon fat, and dried seaweed over traditional laverbread I had done it an injustice! I have since found a few more recipes and ordered some proper laverbread, that arrived a few days ago, and am ready to give it another bash! I will use bacon this time too…and perhaps trial some of the recipes written on the back of the tin…

For this dish, I would also suggest making your own fresh tartar sauce rather than a commercial one. There are some great recipes out there with a real pickley kick that I think will cut through a lot of the flavours and fats in this dish. 

Overall I found Fish in Chicks to be a full flavoured success! The lavercakes (properly prepared) worked nicely as a chip substitute, anchoring the dish to a coastal association;  bringing the fresh salty taste of the sea to the side of the chickpea fish.

Could this be a preview of a future where chickpeas are sewn across the British Isles, and start being snuck into all manner of recipes?

Fermentation Workshop: Research Interests

October 2, 2020


At the end of September we ran an internal master class about fermentation with Dr. Johnny Drain as our guide. The goal of this workshop was for us to further explore fermentation,  using a genomic gastronomy lens and learn more about the possibilities of (genomic gastronomy x fermentation) by running our own fermentation experiment at home with guidance and advice from Johnny.


CGG is all about the art of food (gastronomy) + life sciences: but we have not had much time or domain expertise in fermentation / the MICROBIOME OF THE KITCHEN and this seemed like a good time to correct that.

Some implications of using a genomic gastronomy lens are:

1. Honing in on the biodiversity and biotechnologies that are entangled in contemporary and historical fermentation practices. 

2. Paying close attention to the abundance and distribution of particular species, cultivars and agro-ecosystems in the geographies we inhabit. 

3. Making connections across scales. From microbes to plants to land-use to planet

This was also an opportunity for each of the current members of the Center for Genomic Gastronomy to explore different interests and (since we are spread out across the world) to experiment with very different regional cuisines and produce. The goal is to explore our own local food offerings and come back together (virtually) to share what we’ve found…in particular, looking at what is grown / harvested in September that might be in excess. We imagine this as a “This is Not a Test (Kitchen)” follow-up workshop—an opportunity for us to meet together and share food and cooking (or fermenting) long-distance.


We also initiated this workshop to learn more about how fermentation can boost non-meat products and how fermentation processes (the science, labor, care, aesthetic and flavor) can add to the conversation around plant-based or plant-forward diets. Example: using KOJI to make vegan charcuterie.

Fermented foods and processes seem to be one way one can bring in unique, distinct and delicious flavors and textures to plant-based food, and move beyond the grey and brown veggie food of the 1960s + 1970s. I want fermentation to be the neon inks of our kitchen, lifting and brightening food design that might otherwise become dull and monotonous. 

In the next blog post we will write some notes and takeaways from the masterclass and the last post will include photographs our ferments and some recipes.

Fermentation Workshop Day 1

September 22, 2020
Fermentation Workshop

Today is the first day of an in-studio fermentation workshop which we will be running over the next 2 weeks. We have asked @drjohnnydrain to spend a couple of days with our studio updating our fermentation skills, questions and knowledge. Currently the Center for Genomic Gastronomy consists of 8 people in 6 countries! (+1 guest in Bergen, Norway for this workshop). Today we will be discussing disgust, the history of fermentation and the intensification of flavors. 

Every member of the studio was asked to list the fermented food products we have eaten in the last 7 days. (An interesting snapshot of taste and place). Here is what we guessed before the workshop began: 

AKASH (Chennai, India)

— Cheese

— Curd

— Dhokla

— Fermented Sundried Chillies

— Idly

— Pickle

CAT (Bergen, Norway) 

— Black Tea

— Coffee

— Douchi (Black Bean Sauce)

— Gouda Cheese

— Kombucha

— Kviteseidsmør (Norwegian cultured butter) 

— Sourdough Bread

— Soy Sauce

— Vinegar

— Wine

— Yoghurt

CONOR (Dublin, Ireland)

— “coming soon….”

EILEEN (Brighton, UK)

— Kimchi

— Kombucha

— Mozzarella

— Gouda cheese

— Sourdough bread

EIRIN (Bergen, Norway) 

— Cheddar

— Cottage cheese

— Kefir (Sourmilk) 

— Sourdough Bread

EMMA (Porto, Portugal) 

— Cheeses

— Chutney (?)

— Pickles

— Sourdough

— Soy Sauce

— vinegars

— Wines

— yogurt

LAURA (Portland, OR, USA)

— Cheddar and Parmesan Cheese

— Greek Yogurt

— Pickles

— Sourdough

— Vinegars

MYSTERY GUEST (Bergen, Norway)

— Lacto-fermented squash, cucumber, kale & apple

— Sour dough bread

— Tempeh

ZACK (Bergen, Norway) 

— Beer

— Black Tea

— Coffee

— Douchi (Black Bean Sauce)

— Gouda Cheese

— Kviteseidsmør (Norwegian cultured butter) 

— Sourdough Bread

— Soy Sauce

— Vinegar

— Yoghurt






















#MicrobiomeOfTheKitchen (an interesting article is here (.PDF) by pg. 22: “Good germs, Bad Germs — participatory ‘metagenomics’ of the domestic microbiome” by Carmen Mcleod + Jamie Lorimer






Smog Smelling: Bergen Harbour

August 5, 2020

In June 2020, the Center for Genomic Gastronomy was asked by The Radical Futures Club For The Reorganization of Matter to contribute to their one day conference, taking place at various locations in Bergen, Norway.

Our contribution to the conference was a bespoke version of Guided Smog Smelling, which was held on a rooftop in the city center of Bergen—a city you would not normally consider prone to some of the worst air-pollution in Norway, and sometimes Europe.

We examined the history and seasonal variation of smog in this airshed, and the impact that COVID-19, fuel use, and changes in ocean use have on air pollution.


During both summer and winter, air pollution measuring stations from around Bergen show a substantial number of days with critically high air pollution levels. For example, in January of 2010 Bergen had the worst air pollution of any city in Europe.

Bergen has no significant industrial production located near the city, so it might be surprising that it would experience these high levels of air pollution at all.

Screenshot from picturing cruiseships moored in Bergen harbour. Notice the air quality. The smog is visible.

According to research by NILU – The Norwegian Institute for Air Research, there are several contributors to the air pollution in Bergen. One way that air-pollution is measured is through the levels of particulate matter (PM10 og PM2,5) and nitrogendioxide (NOx), among others.

The main contributors to heightened levels of these particulates are:
— CARS: car-traffic that both release exhaust and wear down roads
— WOOD: wood-burning from non-clean-burning fireplaces
— SHIPS: and emissions from ships docked in the harbour.

Bergen has a complex topography with mountains surrounding the city on all sides, affect how air-pollution travels all year round.


Meteorology also plays into the mix by way of inversion during the colder seasons. Inversion is a combination of cold weather and little to no wind. This leads to the winter-situation referred to by locals as the ‘poison-lid’. At times of inversion during wintertime, going to the top of Mt. Ulriken, (643 metres above sea-level) leads you above the lid, to clean air, the winter-sun and a particular view of the situation.


During summertime there is another aspect that adds to the air pollution in Bergen. In a normal year, during the summer season, cruise ships visit the city, bringing tourists and business to Bergen. Cruise ships built before 2000 have older fuel-burning technology installed. The likelihood is high that most cruise ships mooring in Bergen are burning high-sulphur bunker fuels, to keep the ships’ facilities running when moored.

The use of high-sulphur bunker fuel creates a summer version of the poison-lid phenomenon in Bergen air quality. The ability to supply shore power in Bergen, via an electrical cable you plug into your ship, has been economically delayed for years by lack of funding from the Norwegian national government.

The installation of three shorepower-stations ran behind schedule, but are set to be completed by the summer of 2020. Even more shorepower is set to be built in the coming years in world heritage sites like Flåm and Geiranger, further north up the coast where cruiseships moor in abundance.

Bergen Harbour 20th June 2020: Cruiseship Seadream I, pictured to the left


Guided Smog Smelling uses the human sense of smell and taste to analyze air pollution and evaluate aeroir—the unique atmospheric taste of place. In addition to smelling with intention, we discussed the history and seasonal variation of smog in this airshed, and the impact that COVID-19, fuel use, and changes in ocean use have on air pollution. 

Guided Smog Smelling in Bergen this summer led us to the rooftops of a former coffee factory in C. Sundts gt. 55, with a view of Bergen harbor.

On the 2nd weekend of running the event there was a forest fire in Bergen that led to some particularly poor air quality. It could be smelled (and could even make one cough) across the southern half of the city.


June 5, 2020

“India’s pickle culture goes back thousands of years to when cucumbers and other vegetables were simply preserved in salt. Modern Indian pickles are more complex and probably more delicious, too — hot and tangy, deeply perfumed with aromatics and ground spices.”

— Tejal Rao for The New York Times

It all started when someone in the studio passed on the article “India’s ‘Pickle Queen’ Preserves Everything, Including the Past” from The New York Times, asked me to take a look into the book ‘Usha’s pickle digest’  by Usha Prabakaran that was mentioned in the article, and do some research into pickles. The article by Tejal Rao reveals the decades-long journey that Ms. Usha Prabakaran took to write the incredible book.

“The reason for writing the book was to ensure that the vast culinary heritage of this land stays on the map,” said Ms. Usha Prabakaran.

After reading the article I was really curious to check out a few cookbooks from my mom’s kitchen closet. After surfing through a few, I found a very interesting cookbook that belonged to my grandmother: ‘Samaithu Paar’ written by S.Meenakshi Ammal. The book was first published in 1951, about 60 years ago. It belonged to a time when recipes were passed on from one generation to another through practice. There weren’t many cookbooks then that documented recipes. It was pretty common in India for the bride to leave her house and move into her husband’s house. She brought with her the recipes that belonged to her family. At her new home she would get the opportunity to experiment and put it together with the new recipes and methods that her new household members would teach her. Thus, unique recipes were born that belonged to only one family. One bite could tell you who cooked the food that day.

The book ‘Samaithu Paar’ is a very important document not just for safeguarding the recipes, but also to understand the culinary scene of Tamil Nadu during the 1950s. Cookbooks don’t just give out recipes to people, but also serve as a repository for the future generations to take a peek into what their ancestors ate.

As I read through the old book, it triggered childhood memories of drying veggies on the terrace with my grandmother. Today we don’t dehydrate vegetables or pickle them as my grandmother did. There were a number of vegetables mentioned in the book which I had never heard of. My mom knew all of them, but didn’t know why we never cook with them anymore. 

I decided to check if the other families in my area were aware of the vegetables, and if they also didn’t cooked with them anymore. So I sent out a list of vegetables from the cookbook to all the houses in my neighborhood and asked them to choose the vegetables that they used more than twice in a week. I also asked them to give a reason why they did not use some of the vegetables mentioned in the list regularly. The results showed that the most used vegetables were not the traditional ones, mentioned repeatedly in the cookbook. Some of the neighbors had not even heard of the native vegetables before the survey.

The survey covered only a very small group of the population and cannot be used to theorize the results into insights or reasons. The only definite reading of the results is that the way we eat today is very different to how we ate 50 years ago. This is due to many complex factors, from changed farming practices to kitchen practices or even changed lifestyle choices.

The kitchen has changed, the cooking techniques have changed and the time spent preparing a meal has changed. The transfer of recipes between different households or different generations has reduced. A woman’s role in society has also changed a lot. Women are no longer tied to spending their time in the kitchen. In the words of my colleague, “The fact that women had the freedom to leave the kitchen is a great achievement in many respects”. Eventually, YouTube channels and recipe blogs have replaced mothers’ and mothers-in-laws’ recipe banks.

Change is inevitable. Humans have changed over so many years of growth and advancement along with their eating habits. In the process of changing, recipes and ingredients have reached new places and taken new twists. But at this point, we have to stop and question if the rapid changes and the globalization in the 21st century have made us skip a step. Recipes and ingredients are a reflection of a culture and local identity. But when globalization threatens the loss of local identity and its uniqueness, how do we hold on to it in these changed times?

Interestingly from the survey, most of the answers to the question on why they did not cook with some of the vegetables mentioned that the vegetables were not available in the market or that they were not aware of how to cook with them. None of them talked about having less time to cook or the difficulty of the process. In the past, we have let go of a number of traditions or even traditional recipes because they did not make sense anymore in these changing times. But in this case, my question is, were these vegetables or cooking techniques eliminated naturally by a change in society or were they influenced by external factors like the markets and social media? I do not have the answers right now.

To find answers to these questions I decided we needed to proceed with the research. If not, these cookbooks would just become repositories of forgotten foods from the past for the future generations. I believe in the survival of the fittest. The recipes and ingredients that we use today are here because they have survived the changes of the past. But in a time where the population is heavily influenced by social media and market changes, the old techniques and ingredients should be given a chance to fight for themselves.

I have started a campaign based on the cookbook “Samaithu paar”. I’m cooking 100 recipes from the book in 100 days. Cooking them and documenting the process would help me understand the challenges faced if we brought back these ingredients and techniques and introduced them to today’s lifestyle. Through this processes we can learn what kinds of challenges people will face when incorporating these recipes and techniques into their day to day life. This could help us understand why these techniques and ingredients were forgotten, and help us anticipate the future. Otherwise, I am afraid we might soon be adding a lot more to the list of forgotten vegetables and recipes without knowing why.

Written by Akash Muralidharan
Follow his 100 Days Recipe Challenge here:


November 18, 2021 - December 12, 2021
Grafill, risography exhibition, Oslo, NO
October 24 - November 21, 2019
ClimATE, Aalto University, Espoo, FI.
March 1, 2018
Climate Fiction PT
October 21 - 29, 2017
Dutch Design Week: Embassy of Food
October 19 - 21, 2017
Experiencing Food (Lisbon)
Nov. 5 - Apr. 2, 2016
2116: Forecast of the Next Century
Nov. 5th, 2016
KiKK Festival Workshop