People

The Concept of Appetite

As we move through winter into the idea of spring, the type of food we desire, the amount we eat and what we have access to begins to change. An appetite for game, root vegetables, fuller red wines and dinners at home make way for spring vegetables, seafood and wines with a lightness of being. Beyond seasonality, the concept of appetite  also encourages us to think about what it means to be hungry for something - food, success, a memory, a place or otherwise.

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We’ve chosen two videos from the MAD vaults, ‘Appetite. Ah. Hmm. Yes’ by Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver and ‘What gives me the appetite to be who I am’ by Chido Guvera that explore the concept of ‘appetite’ and what it means to them. MAD is a not for profit founded by Rene Redzepi of NOMA in 2011. Through a collection of talks, essays and a yearly symposium in Copenhagen, they explore the past, present and future of food.

‘When people return to the restaurant, they come with an appetite and a smile. And when you have a customer with a smile, you automatically smile back. Maybe there is a virtuous circle of appetite in that way’.  – Trevor Gulliver, St John

Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver are co- founders of the St John restaurant group. 20 years ago, with the opening of their first site, a former smokehouse flanking London’s Smithfields market, they created an appetite around food that might ordinarily be overlooked. With an emphasis on ‘nose to tail’ dining, they took off cuts and offal, cooked them simply and served them in a welcoming, thoughtfully curated environment. Not only has their influence been felt on the evolution of modern British cooking, but on creating an appetite for success in the bevy of young, talented chefs that have graced their kitchens.

‘Appetite comes from a special place within us. It is the place where strands of hope are starting to rise, it is where you can see a little bit more than what is in this moment.’ – Chido Govera, Food Activist, Zimbabwe

Chido Govera is a farmer and food activist in Zimbabwe. Her Foundation, Future of Hope, works with women, orphans and disadvantaged communities to teach them agricultural skills that enable them to better feed and provide for themselves and their families. As a result, Chido’s relationship with the word ‘appetite’ carries a different meaning to that of which many of us hold in the Western world. It is defined by hunger, being hungry and the fear of not having enough food to remain alive and healthy. But Chido’s situation also created an appetite for hope and change, a desire to create a different, more sustainable way of living for both her own family and many others in Zimbabwe.

 

Sissel Tolaas & The Art of Smell

It’s a little mind-boggling to think about where Sissel Tolaas’s nose has been. A ‘scent artist’, Tolaas has multiple degrees in chemistry, languages and art, and works with brands, such as Comme des Garçons, adidas and Ikea to develop conceptual scents. Her laboratory shelves are teaming with thousands of smells that she has tirelessly captured over the years, from smelly socks, to toys, rotting food and exotic flowers.

Tolaas captured the scent of nine men prone to panic attacks for her exhibition FEAR at MIT’s List Visual Arts Center in New York.

Tolaas captured the scent of nine men prone to panic attacks for her exhibition FEAR at MIT’s List Visual Arts Center in New York.

But where Tolaas really comes to life is with her personal projects, which blur the boundaries between art and science and challenge our understanding of this seemingly undervalued sense. At her 2006 exhibit at MIT, ‘the FEAR of smell – the smell of FEAR’, Tolaas captured and revealed the scent of men who were prone to severe anxiety attacks via scratch and sniff panels, whilst her piece at SFMOMA’s ‘How Wine Became Modern’ exhibition in 2010 attempted to replicate the smell of a rare 100-point Robert Parker rated wine on the artist's breath.

Tolaas recreated the smell of a ‘perfect’ 100 point wine as rated by wine critic Robert Parker at SFMOMA's 'How Wine Became Modern'

Tolaas recreated the smell of a ‘perfect’ 100 point wine as rated by wine critic Robert Parker at SFMOMA's 'How Wine Became Modern'

Considering we breath in around 27,000 times a day, we have little understanding about the role that scent plays in our everyday life, let alone the language at our fingertips to describe it. Tolaas’s work strives to help us do this, firstly by getting us to pay attention to the world and scents around us and secondly by creating experience’s that allow us to talk about smell in a more tangible way.

See her in action here, where she talks about the relationship between smell and memory as part of the Serpentine’s Memory Marathon in 2012 .