Food for Thought

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Ask yourself – would you turn down the opportunity to see a mozzarella made with bacteria sampled from the belly button of Professor Green or a Stilton cheese made with bacteria sampled from the nose of food writer Ruby Tandoh? Would you? Of course, you wouldn’t. If someone waved that prospect before you we know, being the massive foodies you are, that you’d be hot-footing it down to the V&A to queue up to see their latest blockbuster exhibition, ‘Food: Bigger Than The Plate’ faster than you could say, ‘excuse me? Cheese made from what now exactly?’

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The show, riding the zeitgeist around sustainability and single-use plastics, features everything from gastronomic experiments to urban farming, bringing together the politics and pleasure of food to ask how our collective choices can lead to a better food future.

It’s an amazing treasure trove of the unexpected and playful, things and ideas that you never realised you needed in your life until you had the opportunity to see them as you go on a sensory journey through the food cycle from compost to table. The cheese grown from celebrities nether regions is but the start. ‘The Sausage of the Future’, for example by Carolien Niebling is what happens when a chef of molecular gastronomy, a master butcher and a designer team up to look into sausage production techniques and potential new ingredients like insects, nuts, and legumes.

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Exciting, fresh, experimental and often provocative, there are gastronomic experiments, creative interventions in farming, with several exhibits actually physically growing in the gallery space. The oyster mushrooms growing out of coffee grounds will be used as an ingredient at the V&A café.

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Catherine Flood and May Rosenthal Sloan, co-curators of the exhibition said: ‘In an era of major ecological challenges, fast-changing societies and technological re-invention, now is a crucial moment to ask not just what will we be eating tomorrow, but what kind of food future do we want? What could it look like? And taste like?’

And when we can’t help but wonder, will some or all of these ideas start to make an appearance on our menu? In 1968, when Marks and Spencer first starting selling ‘avocado pears’ in the UK, people would serve them with custard, mistaking them for fruit. Our ‘Infamous’ burger made out insects? Stranger things, etc…

FOOD: Bigger than the Plate is on at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 18 May to 20 October 2019. 

Advance tickets are £17, concessions from £13.

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