Throughout the history of the world, cookbooks and the recipes contained in them have played a decisive role in shaping collective taste, dietary customs, and cultural memory. Cookbooks remain a form of writing intended for the standardization and cultural heritage of established culinary norms. Many artists have tried to challenge these norms and expand the possibilities of the genre in their artistic practice, achieving breakthroughs in conceptual and artistic expression through food, a daily issue that impacts everyone.
Ever since Italian poet and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, author of the Manifesto of Futurism, created and edited The Futurist Cookbook: 11 Rules for a Perfect Meal (1930), which opposed pasta and the old aesthetic values it represented, Modernist artists have used cookbooks and food manifestos to push beyond the limits of established rules and constraints, opening up new possibilities in terms of artistic direction, forms, and dimensions for food, a topic that has long been marginalized in terms of artistic practice. Nevertheless, there have long been cultural figures who have draw upon thinking about food and cuisine to pursue new means of artistic creation, from Guillaume Apollinaire’s Le Gastro-Astronomisme ou la Cuisine nouvelle, to Dali’s Les dîners de Gala, and numerous other cookbooks created by artists. These seemingly humorous but in fact serious creations can help us notice the broad and profound implications behind the everyday, ordinary image of food. Writing by artists on food also raises connections the topic and its background to a wider range of issues that define our current reality.
Cookbook of the Pandemic Year is a parallel program to the event organized as part of “Drifting Realities: The Archipelago of Food Discourses.” Texts will be published both online and in printed form. The cookbook is a creative project that aims to foster new forms of solidarity and collaboration by inviting eighteen artists to remotely participate in the creation of “recipes,” through which artistic concepts can be presented and shared. In the cookbook, these vibrant recipes condense their creators’ personal experiences and artistic methodologies, as well as their contemplation of our current society, yet do not necessarily contain delicious or even edible ingredients. A recipe is a special genre, and here its norms, functionality, and spatiality, are being broken and surpassed from within. Therefore, each recipe in the publication, as the exploration of a special writing form, bears the mark of an artist, glancing sideways at their perception of our new reality, creating a document of an imagined archipelago’s foodways. As an ongoing project, the cookbook will be first published and updated online, before being printed as a limited edition artist-cookbook.
The publication will be launched and published weekly online starting from August 20, 2020.
If Dreams were Plants, the first recipe for Cookbook of the Pandemic Year, comes from Po-Chih Huang, who participated in “Above the Trees, Under the Soil,” the first session of “Drifting Realities: The Archipelago of Food Discourses.”
If Dreams Were Plants
If dreams were plants, how would they grow? We, who dream so much, are the earth and water they depend on. Yes, ultimately, we are soil.
If dreams were plants, how would they multiply? Are they secretly sweated out of our bodies? Do they evaporate, condense into clouds, gather, fall as rain, and hide inside the real world?
If dreams are plants, I wish I could become a plant that dreams.
If dreams were plants, how should we nourish them? Controlling their diet might be a feasible method. That is to say, if dreams have a symbiotic relationship with us, our eating habits should directly affect how dreams grow. Correspondingly, as we grow, dreams may also guide our preferences in food. Some examples may shine a light on this. One is the relationship between diet and body odor—if we drink a cup of coffee and then relieve ourselves, our urine has a strong coffee scent. A more obvious example is that after taking B-complex vitamins, our urine turns bright yellow, or even takes on a fluorescent hue, and our urine smells completely different depending on which brand of vitamins we take.
01) Aperitif: Dream-Inspired Millet Wine
“What did you dream about?” she asked.
“I dreamed about a tree,” I said, “and also a hunter who cried a sea into being and then made a boat.”
“I have a friend who’s a hunter,” she said. “He had the same dream as me.”
“What did the two of you dream?” I asked.
She couldn’t explain it clearly. She filled up the empty glass I was holding in my hand. “This,” she said, “is what the ancestral spirits told me in my dream!” (That is, the recipe for millet wine.)
“This is the flavor of your dream,” I said.
“This was dream-inspired,” she said.
02) Lemon Water: Water, Lemons
I believe that memory is a living entity with consciousness, cohabitating with us inside our bodies. It is a plant that spreads through its root system. Every memory is a like an independently growing plant, with its slender roots spreading in all directions, entwining in every corner of our bodies. We never know what they will grow to look like. It takes time. Time is water—it nourishes memories. Time is water—it freezes memories. Time is water—it melts memories.
03) Hors d’oeuvres: Lemon Leaves, Acacia Blossom Nectar
I keep listening to the conversation between tribal leader Dawan Katjadrepan and Lanpaw Taligu. I feel they are like a plant—perhaps one of the acacia trees that grow all over a lemon tree orchard. Acacias are one of the most highly adaptable trees in Taiwan. Their root systems proliferate and tightly grip the soil, spreading widely. The roots of two different trees will even intertwine. Their roots can form a symbiotic relationship with rhizobia bacteria to form nodules. The rhizobia can fix nitrogen gas from the air and transform it into a form of nitrogen that plants can directly absorb. Nitrogen makes leaves grow and produces chlorophyll, while the carbon dioxide that leaves produce during photosynthesis provides the nodules with the nutrition they need to grow. This symbiosis allows acacia trees to adapt well to barren soil and also reinfuse it with nitrogen, making the soil more robust. The intertwining of the roots and their harmonious symbiosis with rhizobia, this moment in the mud, often makes me think of millions of fingers, ceaselessly greeting one another and sending messages: tightly holding onto one another and storing memories.
Dawan Katjadrepan and Lanpaw Taligu believe that dreams are their root systems. They spread out and interconnect, and we exist within them.
04) Appetizer: Cicada Shells, Yams, Broccoli
When cicadas emerge from the ground and metamorphose into winged adults, they leave shells behind on tree trunks. But if the nymphs are infected with fungal parasites before they emerge, the fungi will suck their nutrients away, and the nymphs will die. Light yellow or egg-yolk yellow coremia will slowly grow on the front ends of their bodies, breaking through the surface of the soil and spreading out along the ground, forming the commonly seen Cordyceps sobolifera fungus, which is shaped like seaweed covered with white sugar frosting.
If we directly imagine ourselves to be plants, will this get us a little closer to our dreams?
I did some research into ways to turn people into plants. Some say you should bury your feet in the soil, and some say to bury your head. The arguments for each method differ, but I favor planting a person in the soil headfirst. A plant’s roots are what they rely on to absorb water and nutrients. In the human anatomy, they would be comparable to the human mouth, or our hair if it became fine roots that absorbed nutrients. The flower is a plant’s reproductive organ; it usually blossoms at the top, in order to spread its pollen. On the human body, the legs are too big, and if we turned a human completely upside-down, they would block the genitals and impede reproduction. Therefore, practicing bending the legs to make the crotch stand out would be a key factor.
05) Cocktail: Lemon Xylem Liqueur, Whisky, Saké, Orange Jessamine Flowers
A local farmer said that the sea breeze in Guanyin has a strong salty smell, so salty you can just open your mouth and taste it, making your meal saltier.
After planting five hundred lemon tree saplings, I ritualistically sprinkled some lemon liqueur I had made at the beginning of the project on each lemon tree. I said, “Greetings, good evening.” I thought, this is a margarita that tastes salty without adding any salt.
But if I really wanted to plant myself, I thought, I would plant myself feet first.
06) Salad: Seaweed Salad, Wild Vegetables (Tasselflower, Prickly Lettuce, Velvet Plant, Betel, Pumpkin Stem, Wild Bitter Melon Leaf), Dream-Inspired Millet Wine Dregs
07) Entrée: Monk Goby, Taro, Arrowroot
In his novel The Second Species of Human, Ni Kuang imagines a kind of “plant person” that has evolved from a hybrid of flora and fauna. “Plant people” were the first species of humans to appear on the earth; hence, the term “second species of human” refers to the more numerous “purely animal people.” During the ice age, the first species of “plant people” did their utmost to preserve the mammals on the earth at that time. Later, one of these mammals evolved into “purely animal people,” and the “plant people” tried hard to raise their intelligence.
Many works of science fiction feature “plant people” that can engage in photosynthesis, and their bodies are usually depicted as being completely green. In reality, not all plants are green. Green plants are the way they are because they only contain chlorophyll, but if they contain other pigments, such as anthocyanins or carotene, then they will be different colors. By the same token, some plants, such as algae, can use bacteria to engage in photosynthesis. So if human beings turned into plants, they would not necessarily be green.
The monk goby, or Sicyopterus japonicus, is a fish native to the rivers and streams of Taiwan. The adult fish feed mainly on algae. Every summer in June and July, the fry will leave the ocean and swim upstream along the rivers. Clear and transparent as they swim against the current, their bodies look like sperm advancing up a vagina. Some men believe that by eating the fry, they can increase the quantity and quality of their sperm, the frequency of erections, and the likelihood of impregnation.
If one were to plant oneself feet first and become a plant, the frequency of erections in one’s dreams would be crucial. According to many people’s experiences, when having an erection in a dream, one can see scenes of mountains. Supposing that we really have evolved from “plant people,” I feel that the penis is like the main root of a plant left behind after it has been transplanted and its roots have been snapped off. It continues to rise up erect. It is the harbinger of the plant spreading its roots once again.
08) Digestif: 56 Proof Lemon Liqueur, Ailanthus-like Prickly Ash
Vitamin B always gives me a lot of dreams at night. I believe that writing down what you dream can push you over the boundaries of your imagination.
Before I go to sleep, I drink a glass of lemon cinnamon liqueur that I have made myself, with an alcohol strength of 56 proof, along with a vitamin B complex pill. Finally, I rinse my mouth with mint-flavored mouthwash, set my alarm clock, and lay my head down to sleep. This is my formula for dreaming.
Good night. May you become a plant in your dreams tonight, a “plant person” evolved from a hybrid of flora and fauna.
09) Dream-Inspired Wine: Djulis Millet Wine
Good night. Good night.
May you become a plant in your dreams tonight. May the warm and gentle sunlight of the autumn dawn stick to your body. May you taste the flavor of the sun.
“What do these words mean?” the tribal leader Dawan Katjadrepan asked.
“The flavor of the sun,” I said.
I used to ask my father, “What does the sun taste like today?”
And he would always reply by telling me how sweet or sour it was.
“And what about the clouds?”
“Overcast days are sweet. Rainy days are more tart. I can’t taste sunny days.”
“When the sun moves around behind the clouds, the level of sourness drops.”
“Overcast days are suitable for making liqueur.”
But exactly what is the flavor of the sun?
Po-Chih Huang (Artist)
Po-Chih Huang graduated from the Taipei National University of the Arts with a Master’s degree from the Department of New Media Art, School of Film and New Media. His diverse artistic practice revolves around the circumstances and history of his family, which enables him to investigate issues including agriculture, manufacturing, production, consumption, and more. Since 2013, exhibitions of his continuous art project “Five Hundred Lemon Trees” have been transformed into a crowd-funding platform allowing the appropriation of artistic resources for developing an agricultural brand, activating fallow farmland, and growing lemon trees for lemon liquor. Simultaneously, the project has connected his family members, local farmers, and consumers to make new social relationships possible. In 2013 he also published his first collection of essays, Blue Skin–All About My Mother, an account of the personal history of his mother’s life, which reflects Taiwan’s agriculture economic reform and social change over the past fifty years. Through micro-level observations of his own family history, the work evokes society in Taiwan as a whole.
Option 1 – Ingredient(s):
After I came to the United States, I realized what I have been studied in school for twelve years might have been fake English. I couldn’t express anything clearly. In China, I had been used to hiding behind paragraphs and paragraphs of metaphors and analogies, but due to my lack of vocabulary in English I was forced to talk like a baby. For instance the definition of 暧昧 (aìmeì) is completely different in relation to its translation of “ambiguous.” Wondering how to express this word, I picked up a camera. Photography is an aid, it involves emotions that I had trouble explaining with words. Walking slowly and taking pictures doesn’t cost you anything, but your steps can always been seen if you process your experience and the reflection within your pictures.
Option 2 – Ingredients:
1 box of chicken drumsticks, 2 small potatoes, 2 green onions, 5 cloves of garlic , pepper, 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of Maggi Seasoning. Mix all ingredients except the potatoes , seal in a freezer bag, and let marinate in the fridge overnight.
Before I came to the United States all I could make was ramen and fried eggs (if this qualifies as cooking). It’s true that studying abroad turns everyone into a “Master Chef.” The fun of cooking starts from grocery shopping… no, maybe it starts way earlier when you eavesdrop on your co-worker and hear the name of a dish, or watch a scene in a Japanese drama, and you start planning what to make from then. You can use drumsticks or wings for this dish, cooking slowly is worth your time; if you marinate your chicken with pepper, soy sauce, and salt, you can definitely taste the difference later. You don’t need to marinate your potatoes.
Production Method (Option 1):
When I first started with photography I sketched postures and props I would use for the shoot, so that when I was on site taking the photographs I would feel prepared. Probably because I was too young and inexperienced, all these early photographs I made following this prompt felt staged and contrived. Photography became an illustration to the text. Two years later, I decided to abandon notes, and instead let situations and environments dictate things. This enabled me to soak in the situation and almost let my subconscious guide me to take pictures. Through this new approach, I noticed that maybe what I was trying to portray could be traced in the way I compose the frame, what I leave in or out, and the way I arrange my photographs. I had been following that method of photographing for around three years before I went back to staging and re-enacting again.
Production Method (Option 2):
Place on an oven tray, cover in tin foil, and bake for 20 minutes at 425°F/220°C; remove the tin foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes; turn up the heat as needed and roast at high temperature for another 3-5 minutes.
Usually when I wake up I will flip the sealed bag over to make sure both sides of the chicken are marinated nicely. Ovens did not exist for me before the age of 25: I only put extra pots and pans in there. The reason I was hesitating to use the oven was due to my fear of baking: baking is different to cooking because it requires precision. Slight shifts in temperature or the wrong proportion of flour to water can directly present you with a big bowl of burnt mess. In comparison I think cooking is more forgiving. You can always dilute and come up with creative ways to solve problems.
Apply some oil on the bottom of tray so that the potato won’t stick to it. Cut the potatoes into small chunks and salt those lightly, then put the marinated chicken on top of the potatoes. The juice from the chicken will drip and eventually soak the potatoes on the bottom. Cover the tray with aluminum foil, cut some holes on the aluminum foil and put the tray in the oven to bake. When I taught photography students often asked me, “I am going camping with my boyfriend next weekend, I could photograph that or I can photograph something when I visit my grandma this week. Which one do you think is better?” I have always used cooking as my example to my students. Think about cooking: reading the recipe is so different from tasting the freshly-made meal. Anyone can imagine it, but it is always different to experience. You can’t just sit around and imagine the work, when you go grocery shopping, your thinking might drift away to a different place… No need to think about it, just experience it.
Have you seen [the Japanese anime series] Hunter x Hunter? After the chapter in “Heavens Arena,” the instructor Wing demonstrates the special power of “Nen” and tells two boys, “Keep practicing the basics, develop your personality, create Nen that is special to you. Think about your hopes, your happiness and anger, what you like, what you want to pursue, where you have traveled, who you have met… These processes form your future.” I believe all the confusion, all the movies I have seen, all books I have read, any words from anyone I’ve met, these are all like ingredients chopped and infused into my work. No need to worry if my work is clear enough because my existence is not black or white. Leaps in thinking and unresolved confusion… Be it cooking or photographing, they both feel like muscle memory. I think that the exploration of uncertainty feeds my desire to create, so I don’t think about it and just experience life like so.
Amiko Li (Artist)
Amiko Li (b. 1993, Shanghai) is a visual artist working with photography and text. His works take an aleatoric approach to the nuances in the cultural system, and the ethics of language and representation, through re-enactment, exchange, and mistranslation. He holds a BFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA from Rutgers University. His works have been shown at Flat Earth Film Festival, Iceland (2019); Anthology Film Archive, New York (2019); Landline, Chicago (2019); Abrons Arts Center, New York (2018); Belfast Photo Festival, Belfast, Northern Ireland (2017); LeRoy Neiman Gallery, Columbia University, New York (2014); and Ulster Museum, Republic of Ireland (2014). Li has received fellowships and residencies from institutions including Philadelphia Photo Arts Center; Triangle Arts Association; Künstlerhaus Stuttgart; and the Royal Ulster Academy Portrait Prize.
A Meal Not to Eat Before Leaving
Leavitt Street, Chicago, USA 60622
The earth has been compressed in the past six months.
We all are separated while being together
The air is not unbreathable yet.
It is around 70 percent.
It is like many relationships, not instantly fatal
While daily life reminds
How much effort did it take to leave
Keep counting down
What needs to be dealt with, what doesn’t
Empty the refrigerator to make a dinner
A light came from my roommate’s south-facing room again
Just Dye the Hands Appetizer
⁃ Three black plums bought in a cheap and good-quality supermarket
⁃ 700ml hot boiling water
1. Put the black plums in the refrigerator for two days
2. Take them out and put them in a serving bowl
3. Pour all the hot boiled water (washing fruits with hot water is my mother’s formula)
Broken Refrigerator Chicken Ravioli with Sweet Potato Brick
⁃ One box of chicken thighs ordered online (during the pandemic, I dare not go out and order a lot each time from an online grocery store)
⁃ Half pack of dried ravioli that were originally meant to stock up with and expired three months ago
⁃ Two sweet potatoes which I forget if are organic or not
⁃ Half cup of Chicago’s famous Gold Barbecue Sauce
⁃ A broken refrigerator
⁃ 50 ml white vinegar
⁃ A cup of water
⁃ Moderate amount of cling wrap
⁃ Moderate amount of spring onions
⁃ Moderate amount of cucumbers
1. Put the chicken thighs in the broken refrigerator for five days and wait until the meat color is still not gray but is 10 percent sour
2. Under the suspicion that the chicken thighs may or may not have gone bad, fry the chicken on both sides until golden brown
3. Cut the sweet potatoes into pieces
4. Add sweet potatoes, add half a cup of water and cook for 5 minutes
5. Add barbecue sauce and cook for another 5 minutes
6. Dice spring onion
7. Add spring onion and turn off the heat
8. Eat one of the chicken thighs
9. Suspect food poisoning
10. It is said that white vinegar can kill bacteria, so add vinegar to half a cup of water, and drink it
11. Put the remaining chicken thighs in a zip bag and put it in the refrigerator for one month
12. Put another sweet potato in a food container and put it in the refrigerator for one month
13. Place ravioli evenly on the plate
14. Add cucumber as decoration
15. Wrap two pieces of the chicken thighs with cling wrap and put on a plate
16. Take the sweet potato bricks out of the container and put on a plate
What a Wonderful World Cake
⁃ A big box of birthday cakes from a downstairs neighbor who works in a bakery
⁃ Half bag of frozen strawberries which I don’t know why I liked
⁃ Three slices of homemade banana coconut milk easy make cake
⁃ Two self-made resin plates from molding packaging bags
⁃ Two iPhone glass screen stickers my brother ordered from Taobao
⁃ Moderate amount of expired but still alright yogurt
1. Put the unfinished birthday cakes in the refrigerator for 45 days
2. Put the banana coconut cake that you don’t want to eat anymore in the refrigerator for 60 days
3. Put two kinds of cakes on the plate
4. Put the glass screen between the birthday cakes
5. Add yogurt to the banana coconut milk cake
6. Put on frozen strawberries
Special Drink in Glass Bottle for Preserves
⁃ 30 g German sauerkraut
⁃ 10 olives
⁃ 200 ml white wine from an open bottle
⁃ 3 pickled cucumbers
⁃ 2 frozen okra
⁃ 1 glass bottle used for storing olives
⁃ 1 plate used for breakfast and still not cleaned yet
1. Take all the olives out of the glass bottle and put them in again
2. Add sauerkraut and flatten
3. Add white wine
4. Put cucumber and okra on the plate
5. Then pour the drink on top
Doreen Chan (Artist)
Doreen Wing Yan Chan (b. 1987, Hong Kong) is an artist who currently lives in Hong Kong and Chicago. She has received training in visual communication and photography. Chan’s artistic practices focus on the investigation of personal perception, materiality, and daily details that are often overlooked. Key elements in her works include interpersonal relationships, personal memories, and fragmentary moments of daily life in the city. As a lens-based and site-specific artist, Chan believes that images are merely raw materials. She integrates images with various media to re-examine the tensions between herself and the surrounding world.
Chan has held solo exhibitions at Lianzhou Foto Festival 2013 (Lianzhou, China), Kigoja (Seoul, South Korea), Charbon (Hong Kong), and HB Station: Contemporary Art Research Centre (Guangzhou, China). She has also exhibited her works in Beijing, Gwangju, Macau, Hong Kong, New York, and several cities in the UK. Chan was one of finalists in the 2015 Three Shadows Photography Award and the 2019 Art Sanya Huayu Youth Award.
Both cooking and poetry stand for aspects of our daily lives that we cannot do without. One accounts for the nourishment and maintenance of the body, and the other represents the communication of abstractions, thoughts, and ideas. This project is an ongoing journey where the two worlds are to interact, interpret, and transform one another.
Leaning on the conception that God brought the universe into being by speaking it—i.e. with the use of words—we chose to begin with a poetic/lyrical article that will inspire a culinary dish, which will then inspire a new poem, and so on and so forth.
Since both of us come from very different cultural backgrounds, with different languages as our native tongues, we decided to use English for this project, as the language serves as the foundation for our day-to-day communication. As the work progresses, cooking also becomes a language spoken between us, by means of trying to foresee each of our likings and tailoring the dishes accordingly, using both the differences and commonalities in our tastes. The list of ingredients grows to become a culinary vocabulary, a language that caters to the body and soothes the soul.
Arie: At the time we started the Cooking Poetry project I was reading the book “The Secret History of America,” a collection of essays and lectures by Manly P. Hall, in which he discusses the generally ignored past of the Americas, and proposes mystical possibilities regarding their destiny.
The tales of glorious ancient cultures and philosophies, the hopeful and far-reaching interpretation of historical texts regarding exploration and missionary expeditions in the old world and the discovery of America, and the essential place of secret societies in the formation and shaping of any culture still functioning today, strengthened my belief that we may have some perception of ourselves but we do not know who or what we are, what makes and sustains us, and, in turn, what governs our future.
I may say that I am a “man,” but no amount of trivial data stored in my brain would be sufficient to explain what that means. “Man” then simply becomes a word, a sound I am repeating, since I heard it spoken before in this context, much like my two-year-old son who is imitating me in his attempts to acquire tools for communication.
In this sense, truly knowing something cannot be merely the ability to repeat statements regarding it. Knowing appears to me as most deserving of a new understanding, a new form. It should also be approached with boundless humility, as we do not know what knowing is, and this seems fitting a starting point to any journey.
Lu: For “Knowing,” the dish needs a root vegetable, which can provide a sense of earth, and grounding. A sweet vegetable is preferable—to unravel a joyous sensation, the happiness that comes with knowing. To balance the taste, and reflect another aspect of “knowing”, the dish requires an ingredient which carries some bitterness and spiciness, one that will result in an uneasy impression.
Steamed Sweet Potato with Ginger
Ingredients: sweet potato, ginger, salt, black pepper
1) Steam sweet potato until soft.
2) Meanwhile peel fresh ginger root, and use peeler to grate very thin slices.
3) Cut the sweet potato into bite size cubes, then put a ginger slice on each cube.
Lu: With “Noing,” I envision an ingredient being prepared in an unusual way. This component should be something white, something with the quality of innocence and denial.
Ingredients: rice (½ cup), coconut milk (½ cup), sugar, egg (× 2), salt, butter (⅛ cup), mint leaves
1) Set the rice to cook and turn the flame to low once the water is boiling. Continue cooking for 5 minutes.
2) Pour out excess liquid from the pot and add in coconut milk and sugar. Keep stirring to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
3) Simmer gently for 35 minutes, and stir from time to time.
4) Add eggs and butter into the rice. Stir until smoothly integrated, and turn the stove off immediately.
5) Serve in small bowls or cups, warm or cool. (We actually prefer warm, but most people prefer it served cold).
6) Accompany with mint leaves, which can refresh the palate from the dose of sweetness.
Out of all
the beaches in the world
Lu: I see sunshine, sand, and a happy summer. Are there many beaches? I only see one right in front of me. I want to use chickpeas and eggs as main ingredients for this dish. The light yellow tin of the chickpeas and their texture reminds me of Israel. It is warm, dry, and even slightly exotic for someone like me. And yet it is so common for some parts of the world, common like the sand.
Chickpeas and Eggs
Ingredients: chickpeas (dry), eggs, onion, black pepper, salt, olive oil, dry parsley; lemon
1) Soak the chickpeas overnight in water. Cook the chickpeas in water until tender. (To cook chickpeas well, soaking is key. After soaking, the next step is to cook the chickpeas until the water is boiling and heavy foam forms. Then the water needs to be drained out and the foam should be washed off the chickpeas with cool water. Add fresh water to the pot and cook until chickpeas are soft.)
2) Hard boil eggs (put eggs in cold water in a pot. After the water has boiled, cook for 3 more minutes, and turn off flame. Let the eggs sit in hot water for another 3 minutes. Letting the eggs sit for a few minutes in cold water afterwards will make peeling them a lot easier.)
3) Slice the eggs into circles and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
4) Drain out the water from the cooked chickpeas. Season with chopped onion, salt, pepper, olive oil, dry parsley and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
The Moment is us
Convictions of silk
Bid the Muses Farewell
Lu: The last step of this recipe should be completed on the table, during the meal. It should be eaten immediately once it is prepared.
It should include ingredients that are very fresh and seasonal, to preferably be eaten raw. Accompanied with something that is preserved, the two types of ingredients, fresh and preserved, can express the two aspects of a “Moment”—temporary and eternal.
Tuna Hand Rolls with Five Herbs
Ingredients: rice, roasted Nori seaweed, tuna fish (precooked, preserved in salt water), ginger, (and/or horseradish), lemon, salt, mayonnaise, mustard, onion, rice vinegar, soy sauce.
Five types of fresh seasonal green herbs or green vegetables: basil leaves, mint leaves, scallions, cilantro, arugula.
1) Cook white rice. When it is cooked, add in some rice vinegar, and set aside. It is best to serve warm but not hot.
2) Put the preserved tuna into a bowl, add in chopped onion, scallion and cilantro. Season with salt, pepper, squeezed lemon juice, some mayonnaise and mustard.
3) Finely grind ginger and horseradish and put in small plate for seasoning of hand rolls.
4) Lay out all the prepared ingredients on the table: herbs, tuna salad, seaweed (fold and tear into hand roll size), ginger and horseradish, cooked rice, and soy sauce if needed. Make the hand rolls any way you like.
Fang Lu (Artist)
Fang Lu was born in Guangzhou, China in 1981. She is currently living and working in Beacon, New York. Her main focus is on video art and her works have been shown and screened in museums and art spaces including the Asian Art Museum (San Francisco), Anthology Film Archive (New York), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Borges Libreria Institute of Contemporary Art (Guangzhou), Guangdong Times Museum (Guangzhou), OCAT Shanghai, UCCA (Beijing), and Inside-Out Art Museum (Beijing).
Fang’s recent work addresses the tensions that are inextricably part of modern life. Through elevating personal experience and struggles to metaphysical settings, she strives to reveal the magical aspects of the so-called mundane.
Arie Kishon (Artist)
Arie Kishon was born in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1983, and is presently based in Beacon, New York and Tel Aviv. His diverse artistic practice includes cinema, painting, music, and poetry. Kishon has a background in cinema and photography, and has been active as a sound art and vocal performer in the Israeli underground music scene for the past 15 years. His performances are often described as “noise meditations,” shapeless and animalistic.
Roasted vegetables are an ideal meal for the countryside: you can put everything on a baking tray, prepare any amount you wish, and have a (vegan?) barbecue with it. Roasted vegetables are the best food to have on the side, when you have a lot to do in the garden, but also the best option when many friends suddenly show up at the house. You simply can’t go wrong with them, and they are delicious too!
1) Late autumn: Clean the garden, spread compost on the beds, cover with leaves and chaff.
2) Spring: Start pumpkin seeds, zucchini seeds, tomato seeds in small pots.
3) Clean the vegetable garden. Once it is warm enough, plant plants in the garden. Protect with homemade chaff.
4) Buy and plant bulb onions. Protect from drying out with chaff.
5) Plant potatoes.
6) Water, weed, keep useful herbs such as vegetable mallows, borage,and marigolds, remove snails, water, etc.
7) Grow and stake tomato plants, pinch out shoots.
8) Direct the vine growth of the pumpkin plants (the tendrils can coverseveral square meters).
9) Remove snails, continue weeding and watering etc.
10) Summer: Harvest onion bulbs as needed.
11) Harvest zucchini once they are the right size. Do not wait until they have become balloons!
12) Likewise, harvest pumpkins when they are the right size and color.
Note: there are large, small, red, yellow, green, white, spotted species—pumpkins in all colors and shapes. Therefore, you should know which kind you are growing.
13) Harvest potatoes when the top of the plant is completely dried out on the ground. Make sure to look closely, there is always one more.
14) Drizzle the baking tray with olive oil.
15) Scrub the potatoes clean, quarter them, and place them on the tray.
16) Slice the zucchini.
17) Core pumpkins and cut into small pieces.
18) Cut onions into quarters and place them in between.
19) I haven’t grown garlic yet, so I buy it, peel it, and place the whole cloves on the tray.
20) Drizzle oil once more, season with salt and pepper.
21) Sprinkle thyme, oregano, and whatever else you have in the garden over it.
22) Bake at 200 °C for about 20 to 30 minutes until everything is cooked.
23) Enjoy. I like to have a little ketchup on the side.
The above recipe is excerpted from The Videoart at Midnight Artists' Cookbook by Olaf Stüber and Anton Stüber © 2020.
Antje Majewski (Artist)
Antje Majewski (b. 1968, Marl, Germany) is an artist and curator. She currently lives and works in Berlin and Himmelpfort. From 2006 to 2011 she taught at Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee and has been a professor of painting at Muthesius Kunsthochschule in Kiel since 2011.
Majewski’s practice is based largely on anthropological and philosophical research, with her figurative painting, photography and video work exploring the social roles that objects play. Following years of intensively tracing the histories of seven objects in an investigation that took her across continents and yielded both paintings and video works (“The World of Gimel,” Kunsthaus Graz, 2011), she shifted her focus to biodiversity and its interface with both historical and modern apple varieties. Her exhibition project “Apple. An Introduction. (Over and Over again)” comprises paintings, objects and a documentary film that bring the complex relationship between the global food industry and technological progress to the forefront.
Often acting as an intermediary for collaborative thought, Majewski gives ecology an aesthetic and social dimension while also lending it a sense of time, place and pertinence. For a period of three years, Majewski was a member of feminist group ff. She then went on to found E.F.A. (Eco-Feminist Anarchism). In her series “E.F.A. im Garten,” she documented nature’s reclamation of a community garden in Berlin that was cleared by investors, framing this restoration as an act of anarchistic freedom. In 2018, Majewski’s interdisciplinary, collaborative exhibition project “How to talk with birds, trees, fish, shells, snakes, bulls and lions” opened at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. She invited artists from Brazil, China, France, Colombia, Cameroon, Poland, Senegal, and Hungary to contribute works to this exhibition that poetically explored the reciprocal relationships between humans and other lifeforms.
Majewski’s work also investigates objects transported from their places of origin and separated from their contexts for exhibition abroad—a practice that has become increasingly common since the beginning of European colonialism of Africa. She investigated this concept further in group exhibitions on the concept of art and craft at Gropius Bau Berlin and Kunsthaus Graz (2019), probing the transformation of meaning, function and value that cultural objects undergo upon being archived, conserved, and exhibited.
Waiting and leaving… A familiar city, languages, food, and home(s), the constant switch of uncertainty and unexpected situations. Well, since everything in front of you is brand new, let’s start again. I let go of the concerns I used to have, get ready to throw myself into them and confront them. I am lucky to be engaged in artistic creation, as it makes me more affectionate and dedicated than if I were getting to know a city as a tourist: I stayed longer, and had direct contact with locals working in related fields; effectively, I understood and learnt what I am interested in. In the days when I first came here, I wandered aimlessly. The time and energy spent on walking everyday made me no longer feel like a bubble floating outside of its environment, and I gradually got used to the smells of the people, food, and vegetation here. All the time and energy that has been consumed allows me to devote myself to this, just like the full and strange shape of jackfruit in front of me , which I have been preparing for long time to cut. You can search on the internet for various ways to cut fruits, some of which are defined as the “correct way.” However, regarding the affair of opening the peel and taking out the pulp, there is no such so-called “correct” or “incorrect” way: you can approach it in a straightforward way, but can also change your perspective so the process becomes more complex—if eating the pulp is not considered the only purpose of the action, if more results are being produced due to the process, or if the process itself exists to satisfy the desire to process.
The unattended vine next door was full of young fruits a few months ago. The weather is slowly getting warmer, and the grapes are growing rapidly, changing more and more, growing bigger and bigger. But one day, the peel began to grow spots, like a pod. Then the leaves also grew spots and began to curl up. The grapes stopped growing. It was only after I asked some people that I came to know it was the eaves above that which blocked sufficient direct sunlight and prevented the fruit from ripening. Weirdly, it was lacking a little bit of sunshine, so while it could grow so well at the beginning, at the end of the sprint, it was defeated and failed to grow into a perfect fruit. Grapes stop growing, but they are still a delicacy for animals. The flesh was pecked at by the animal’s mouths, and dug away by their paws, leaving a layer of soft and collapsed peel hanging on the handle. The peels that had lost the flesh were like eyelids with eyeballs removed one by one, drooping down.
Later, the virgin fruit I planted was ripe. More and more hollow peels and clusters of semi-developed grapes that have been pecked off are solidified on the vine next door like specimens. So, I picked all the grapes that still had their flesh.
You suddenly gatecrash a local neighborhood as a stranger. You will come and go around here every day for the next few months. Nearby hawkers, grocery stores, fruit shop sellers, and illegal taxi drivers will gradually realize that you are not a hurried passenger. They start to remember how you look, stop calling you over, and occasionally smile at you with a familiar expression when you pass by. Living in this city without English signs, the house numbers and block divisions seem a bit arbitrary. When you go out and go home, you can hardly identify your door number. The rows of buildings in the same block look so similar. The cellphone reception only functions occasionally, and it completely fails in the densely packed blocks of archways—only through details such as the color of the gate, the decoration style of the iron fence, and the variety and shape of the plants planted next to the mailbox can you find your home.
On the first day, turn left and go straight. After turning left at the first corner, turn left again, go straight for one and a half kilometers, and turn left for the third time. On the second day, turn right and go straight, then turn right after a distance of almost one kilometer, and turn right again; go straight for one and a half kilometers and turn right for the third time. For now, I live in the south of the city center, and within three kilometers, which is organized by more than 20 completely parallel and almost equal-length (about 0.8 kilometer) small roads. Yet after three left turns, you encounter countless narrow passages that are easily confused with each other, all leading to the way home. In my daily adventure games, free and full of surprises, I hardly think about art or creation, even though I often think of materials, production, and concepts from what I see— one way or another, the kind of transformation I'm familiar with—once discovered, it stops in time.
In the early stage of the pandemic’s outbreak, my family and I moved to the border of the city. The sea was behind us, but all entrances to the sea were blocked. Every day we looked at the sea from the roof of the house, which had become an isolated island. Living on the edge of a city is far from being close to nature. The road here is very wide with few cars, and large areas of deserted mud on both sides of the road allow weeds and wildflowers to grow and spread to unfinished construction projects several kilometers away. The house where no one lives, the road with no car, the sea with no entrance, everything is lonely, and everything is forgotten.
A small island is hidden at the very deep end of the sea, there is nothing left on the island except for ferns and coconut trees. No one. One day, a survivor from an accident at sea drifted to the shore, exhausted. After gradually regaining consciousness, the survivor began to search inside the backpack he carried: he found two travel brochures, a fluorescent marker, a small mirror, a pair of sunglasses in a spectacle case, and a piece of bread that had long been soaked in seawater. And a small handful of cherry tomatoes.
The survivor relied on the coconuts on the island to sustain his life, and he carefully ate only one cherry tomato a day. He was afraid that soon he would no longer be able to see such a colorful and plump red fruit. Four or five days later, one of the cherry tomatoes ripened and cracked. The survivor carefully buried it in the soil, hoping for a miracle. Nine or ten days later, two more cherry tomatoes ripened and cracked, and they were carefully buried in the soil again, the survivor still expecting a miracle. When only one cherry tomato was left, the survivor put it in his mouth and chewed on the ripe fruit for a long time. Although it was small, it was extremely delicious. The survivor shed tears, thinking of his beloved homeland. The fruit buried in the soil never germinated. Ferns and coconut trees remain the only things that grow on the island.
Yu Ji (Artist)
Yu Ji currently lives and works in Shanghai and Vienna. Her creations include installation, sculpture, performance, and video, among which sculpture is the core of her work. Yu Ji’s current practice is motivated by an ongoing investigation into her work’s specific location within geographies and historical narratives. She focuses on ideas created with time, space, and movement, usually using the least amount of materials to imbed immateriality and intangiblity into material existence. Yu’s recent group exhibitions include: “May You Live In Interesting times,” 58th Venice Biennale (2019); “HUGO BOSS ASIA ART | Award for Emerging Asian Artists” (Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, 2017); “Why Not Ask Again? - Maneuvers, Disputation & Stories,” 11th Shanghai Biennale; and “The Eighth Climate (What Does Art Do?),” 11th Gwangju Biennale (all 2016).
There is a type of cactus that grows and lives under the hot sun. Its Chinese name translates as “Fairy Peach” and it symbolizes good luck. The plant can be eaten as food, fermented as wine, used to build fences, and for many other purposes in daily life. Cacti such as these have featured in my art for a long time, existing as a metaphor for self-portrait.
I have tried to ask myself whether it is possible to use the evolution of cactuses as a way to discuss the how individuals are swallowed up and digested into life as a whole
I am attracted by the basic characteristics of the cactus while I plant it, such as the sharp spines on the outside and its soft inside, or the contrast between the slow speed of its life cycle and busy routine of daily life around me. My interest in these traits is very personal, which gradually turns the plant into a metaphor for myself. For a long time, I mainly “drew” cacti on a blank paper and “corrected” their forms through a grid of points. The shape is stiff and slowly approaches the feeling of a still life, weakening the actual traits of a cactus—which can sometimes be like a stone, a column, or other shapes. After that, I use one of the fundamental materials in architecture—concrete—to retransform its shape. I remove the cactus from the grid, graft different varieties of cacti onto it, or outline it with discarded rebar. Through the transformation of materials, the main body of the concrete sculpture is juxtaposed with the rubble of buildings, like a modern fossil buried under the accumulated flows of urban construction.
Yet actually, the cactus, which lives alongside stones under the hot desert sun, is a part of the wilderness, with a fierce and taciturn shape. Four years after Columbus’ discovery of the New World, a sailor brought a cactus from the Caribbean to Europe, and in 1669 cacti arrived in Japan. Throughout its journey, the cactus has gradually changed from an outdoor to indoor plant, something that can be delicately potted and placed on an office desk. This “evolution" can be compared to migration and reminds me of how individuals have the chance to “digest” themselves under the influence of urban “evolution.”
Here, I think of the words “Chewing over Debris.” Like displaying self-realization in the process of “evolution,” this is more like an abstract expression, via an understanding of “evolution,” and is the “diet” between ourselves and reality. A diet must be eaten, which requires many actions: biting, gnawing, chewing, swallowing, and so on. Through these different movements, we can imagine the perspective of how individuals are swallowed up and digested by the background of history. My ingredients start with steamed bread as an element converting rubble and red bricks—the culinary attributes and cultural features of the bread help reproduce the feeling of these materials. This is accompanied by edible cactus pulp, on which I finally sprinkle granules of light caramel to represent an imagining of the desert, converging to create this dessert named “Modern Fossil.” The stone I mention here is not a stone from nature; it is more a metaphor for the rolling of time as well as the overlapping of different moments and connections. This moment will become the past or a reminder of the future.
Ingredients: flour, steamed bread, rubble, red brick, light caramel, and edible cactus.
Zhang Ruyi (Artist)
Zhang Ruyi (b. 1985, Shanghai) lives and works in Shanghai. Zhang’s work involves sculpture, painting with mixed media, and installation. Her conceptual practice centers on everyday logic, and her work occupies a specific space at the nexus of reconciled artifacts, industrialized experiences, and urban life. Her work has been shown at the K11 Art Foundation, Hong Kong (2018); Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai (2018); UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2017); CASS Sculpture Foundation, Chichester, UK (2016); and Sifang Art Museum, Nanjing (2016). Recent solo exhibitions include “Consciousness of Location” (Don Gallery, Shanghai, 2019); “Bonsai” (François Ghebaly, Los Angeles, 2019); and “Building Opposite Building” (Don Gallery, Shanghai, 2016).
- Prometheus’s liver
- 1 kapala
- 50 mg mescaline as used by Antonin Artaud
- 1 sacrificial embryo
Step 1: Season both sides of the liver in advance. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour, or as long as overnight.
Step 2: Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat
Step 3: Grill the liver on the preheated grill until firm, reddish-pink, and juicy in the center, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the liver to a kapala, and sprinkle with mescaline/peyote cactus juice. Let rest for about 10 minutes.
Step 4: Cut the raw embryo into pieces and spread evenly over the liver to serve.
 In order to punish Prometheus for stealing fire, Zeus chained him to a mountain in the Caucasus. Prometheus was exposed to the wind and sun while an eagle preyed upon him every day. The act of stealing fire received its punishment, like the redemption of human behavior; although Prometheus’ liver was eaten by the eagle each day, it grew back again and again.
 Only the skull of a senior monk who has achieved enlightenment can be made into a kapala. This skull bowl both contains the remains of the dead and is a reminder of Buddhist stories of sacrifice, such as when Siddartha Gautama cut his flesh to feed an eagle or offered his body to tigers, alluding to human flesh as a charitable offering.
 Antonin Artaud participated in traditional religious rituals on a journey to Mexico, and experienced the psychoactive properties of cacti. Mescaline is a kind of alkaloid that comes from the peyote cactus,which has been used by indigenous peoples in Mexico for thousands of years. Native Americans use this psychedelic plant as a guide for ritual ceremonies. This ingredient possesses a guide-like quality, which can be seen as opening the entrance to heaven. Artaud himself was a little bit crazy—he believed he saw heaven open up.
Tianzhuo Chen (Artist)
Born in 1985, Tianzhuo Chen currently lives and works in Beijing, China. After graduating from Central St. Martins College of Art and Design in London, he received his Master’s in Fine Arts degree from the Chelsea College of Art and Design, London.
Tianzhuo Chen skillfully works between the artistic disciplines of installation, performance, video, painting and photography. Many of his artworks require others’ participation or that of the audience to take the form of a “happening,” such as an underground party, staged performance, or more conceptually, a constructed ritual site, ultimately transforming reality into fantasy. Within his artworks, Chen mixes his well-versed knowledge of elements and symbols found in religion (like Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Shamanism, etc.), subculture (such as cults, drag, rave, etc.), popular culture (such as cartoons, hip hop and electronic music, etc.) and dance (like Japanese Butoh and voguing) in order to juxtapose atmospheres and cause the audience/participants to transcend superficial states of both the body and spirit. Ultimately, they arrive what the artist himself has referred to as a “state of madness.”
His recent solo exhibitions include “Trance” (M Woods Museum, Beijing, 2019); “GHOST” (Kunsthalle Winterthur, Winterthur, 2017); “Ishvara” (Long March Space, Beijing, 2016); and “Tianzhuo Chen” (Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2015).
His selected group exhibitions include the 6th Athens Biennale (2018); “Entropy” (Faurschou Foundation, Beijing, 2018): “Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art” (2018); 1st Biennial of Contemporary Arts (Lisbon & Porto, 2017): and the 11th Shanghai Biennale (Power Station of Art, Shanghai, 2016).
His performances have been staged at The Broad Museum (Los Angeles, 2018); Barbican Centre (London, 2018); Wiener Festwochen (Vienna, 2017); Theater Der Welt (Hamburg, 2017); Tokyo Festival (2017); and elsewhere.
As the site of interaction between international food and the island of Taiwan’s local snacks, Taipei may be a good place to think about some kind of futuristic dish. In order to make this dish stand out from dull and mundane globalized ingredients—as is also the pursuit of many paranoid and gluttonous foodies—and to find food’s so-called localness, we may start out from regional specificity. From the perspective of a locally-grounded Futurism, it is hard to avoid using the new convenience-obsessed ingredients which are becoming mainstream in the Western world, such as alternative protein sources or the plant-based meat proffered by big brands. Instead, models of Futurism from regions, especially those proposed by the Global South, contain thinking counter to Western hegemony that may be useful for us here.
In fact, even when considering the most common sources of protein, we can still reflect on Futurist dishes from different cultural perspectives. For example, in 2019, the Chinese science fiction movie The Wandering Earth proposed the snack food “durian flavored dried earthworm.” In my mind, this is one of a few details in the movie which could be categorized as a form of national Futurism. Unlike the cockroaches cooked into protein bars that serve as food in the Korean movie Snowpiercer, there are actually historical precedents for the use of dried earthworm as a source of nutrition. In Chinese pharmacopoeias, earthworm is referred to with a term that directly translates as “underworld dragon,” though it was customarily used as a medicinal rather than culinary ingredient. By infusing the earthworm with a flavor from a Southeast Asian tropical fruit, the movie presents a truly creative—and practical—proposal.
To speak of the practice of a Futurist diet connected to place or ethnic group, one must first read the cookbook of our Futurist spiritual leader, Sun Ra. Sun Ra and his band the Arkestra, building from their music and clothing, forged a fantastical performance style that established the cosmological philosophy of Afrofuturism. Rumor has it that when the band’s finances were tight, Sun Ra would cook a vegetarian dish called “Moon Stew.” The problem is just that Sun Ra was from Saturn after all, so it is difficult to use the Earth’s standards to write down his recipes. In an interview with Sun Ra about cooking, food writer Bob Young asked about the ingredients of the Moon Stew: green peppers, onions, garlic, potatoes, okra, tomatoes, and ears of corn. But there is no way to know the precise proportions of the ingredients. Sun Ra gave the reply: “It's like riding a spiritual aircraft. You put the appropriate ingredients in, regardless of why, the taste will be right. If you plan, it will never work. "
Any points of comparison that can be drawn between thinking on food from Sun Ra and Marinetti—the representative of the Italian Futurist diet—are probably due to their shared perception-based approach towards cooking. When they think about cooking and eating, they don’t worry about how many spoonfuls of oil and salt, or how many kilograms of flour, but rather how to capture a certain feeling. For Sun Ra, these feelings are sincerity and love, while Marinetti emphasizes sense and surprise. In addition to making recipes more dynamic and giving them more imaginative space, these approaches can also transform cooking into an interdisciplinary creative practice. Therefore, a Futurist recipe should try to maintain its kinetic energy and openness: It should be an aesthetic practice instead of a prescription.
What exactly is Taipei Futurism? Or, how should we imagine Taipei Futurism? There is a possible path to understanding these questions: Just like with other Futurisms, you can use music as an entry point, for example as with noise for Italian Futurism, jazz for Afrofuturism, and vaporwave for Sinofuturism. Of course, I have no intention to simplify the process of aesthetic development, and as explained above, openness should be put first. However, we still need a starting point for our thinking and a direction for the journey. What is more, music inherently possesses an irreplaceable sensibility, which is why many aesthetic revolutions begin with the transformation of methods in musical creation.
In fact, whether intentionally or not, Taiwan’s music scene has begun to mold a kind of regional Futurism over the past few years. For example, Paiwan aboriginal singer Abao, who won the Golden Melody Award in 2020, successfully combined melodies from Paiwan traditional music with electronic music and an Afrofuturist visual style. The independent band Island Futurism is trying to combine traditional Austronesian music with Afrobeat to create a new style of music. If we focus more on Taipei, we can see several popular hip-hop singers, for example 9m88 and DJ Didilong, who have incorporated unique elements distinct to the city into their music videos. These details are not necessarily concrete technological objects, but nonetheless they exhibit some characteristics of Futurism, such as the crossing between different eras, and scenes of nostalgic fantasy. It is hard to identify what specific time period is being referenced, but their videos are full of evocative images like people practicing martial arts while wearing fluorescent clothes next to the food stalls of Shilin Night Market, or riding 1980s Bosozoku motorcycles in the dark through the dilapidated Nanjichang Night Market.
Perhaps these musicians from Taipei did not think about Futurism, just like Sun Ra himself never thought about Afrofuturism. The expression of a Futurist style does not require this specific intention, but, instead—allow me to emphasize this again—a dream-like openness. So a yet-to-be-fully-formed Taipei Futurist stew is not best recorded in prescriptive form.
Here, I will try to describe the potential characteristics and ingredients of a Taipei Futurist stew:
1. “Fushan Lettuce” as the Main Vegetable Ingredient
Fushan lettuce is a common ingredient in Taiwan’s night markets. However, due to linguistic and historical factors, it is more often colloquially referred to as “Mainland Girl,” a name tinged with discriminatory connotations. Using Fushan lettuce symbolically moves past this legacy of discrimination, and the vegetable has the additional benefit of being extremely easy to grow. It does not require a special environment and can be planted on the balcony or roof of a building. Moreover, it can be harvested after one and a half months, and its nutritional value is very high. In addition, it has a slightly bitter taste, which could improve the quality of the stew, and cut through the greasy taste often found in Taiwanese food.
2.Using “Bubbles” as Condiments
Tapioca pearl “bubbles” are a common ingredient in hand-shaken drinks and desserts in Taiwan’s night markets. In order to attract customers, some businesses use sexually suggestive nicknames for these items, like “Boba” or “Xiaomi.” Using the term “bubble” removes these unsavory connotations, and the ingredient’s unique slippery texture and sweetness can help neutralize the bitterness of Fushan lettuce, stimulating the mushroom-shaped papillae on the tongue that detect sweet flavors. In fact, these bubbles are already sparking culinary innovations in Japan, where there are dishes on the market like bubble sushi, bubble Tsukemen ramen (dipping noodles), and bubble beer. Therefore, as an important site for the production of bubbles, Taiwan should be able to develop more ways of eating them.
3. Mixing Soup with “Champagne Oolong Tea”
Champagne oolong tea is a heavily fermented tea product derived from oolong tea, mainly produced in Hsinchu and Miaoli in northern Taiwan. In order to emphasize the sweetness of this kind of tea, many tea merchants gave it the Orientalist name of “Oriental Beauty.” The use of “champagne oolong tea” symbolically moves beyond this, and the honey fragance of the tea, brought about by small green leafhoppers biting the leaves as they grow, could add to the sweetness of the stew. To attract small green leafhoppers to nip at the tea buds, the tea gardens are planted in a strictly controlled, ecological unspoilt environment, where pesticides are prohibited. This restriction also serves to raise awareness of organic planting practices.
In order to maintain the open-ended nature of Taipei's Futurist stew, I recommend keeping the recipe flexible, and to invite cooks to use their imagination and add newer, seasonal, and nutritious ingredients. The goal is to achieve an even better flavor, and to make the Taipei Futurist stew keep up with the times.
Musquiqui Chihying (Artist)
Musquiqui Chihying (b. 1985, Taipei) is a filmmaker and visual artist who lives and works in Taipei and Berlin. He graduated from Taipei National University of the Arts in 2008 and Berlin University of the Arts in 2015. He works in a wide range of media including sound, image, and installation. His works explore ideas of the human condition and environmental systems in the age of global capitalism, frequently investigating the subjectivity of contemporary social culture in the Global South. Solo exhibitions include “The Chinese Museum F” (In extenso, Clermont-Ferrand, France, 2019); “The Power of My Smile” (Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei, 2019); “New Directions: Musquiqui Chihying” (UCCA Beijing, 2018); “Resistance is Futile” (CAAC/Gallery 456, New York, 2017); and “Modern Life is Dull” (NON Berlin Asia Contemporary Art Platform, Berlin, 2016). Chihying’s works have also been featured in “China-Afrique: Crossing The World Colour Line” (Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2020); “68th Berlinale Forum Expanded” (Akademie der Künste, Berlin, 2018); the 10th Taipei Biennial (Taipei Fine Arts Museum, 2016); the 10th Shanghai Biennale (2014); and “Place an Image/Place in Image” (Museum für Fotografie, Berlin, 2014).
Fruit jam is one of the earliest known methods of food preservation—records from the 1st century A.D. describe keeping fruits by submerging them in honey. I learn food preservation techniques to better understand how people survive hard times. Survival is not only defined in relation to undergoing extreme conditions, like withstanding a long winter by eating trees, or clinging to a raft in the middle of the ocean, but also in enduring physical and mental abuse in the forms of racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and other prejudices. Survival is not only about physical sustenance, but also mental tenacity. Eating jam enhances my own daily life, and making jam is a way to understand the long view of humankind’s existence. I am not a gourmand; I prefer to use rough and expedient methods of preserving food developed during times of scarcity. Fruit jam uses these types of traditional techniques to save seasonal fruit, making it a lesson in resourcefulness. As a woman, an artist, an immigrant, and a child of immigrants, my position in the world is largely peripheral. At a distance from the nexus of power within a gendered world of divisions, I exist physically and metaphorically on the fringes. This condition of being on the edge is a gift rather than a burden, but it too necessitates a kind of resourcefulness. I often make-do through makeshift inventiveness; scraping and scrounging; creating something from nothing. These tactics are applied uniformly for survival, for making jam, as well as for making art.
Making jam is an action that links the past to the future; it takes fruit, techniques, and time, and locks them together in a jar to savor later. During 2020’s long pause, time gained an unusual plasticity. Rather than regular ticks, the clock started truncating, stretching, and warping. Each day passed in strange ways, one moment the sun was shining, and then suddenly it was dark again. In lieu of other tasks, making jam became a regular activity. It was a way to keep occupied, and a way to mark the seasons, watching and waiting as the time passed. In winter, at the start of the lockdown, oranges and tangerines, symbols of Spring Festival, were turned into a marmalade; the bitter fruit peel and citrus suspended in its own sugary amber. While stirring the bubbling fruit, birds called noisily in the dry tree branches outside. As the ground defrosted, I squeezed lemons into lemon curd while dispatching bundles of N-95 face masks and PPE to family and friends overseas. Between Zoom calls, mulberries streaked my cutting board a dark purple. As we cautiously emerged from sheltering in place, there was a bonanza of shiny ripe cherries. Obsessively masked and trying to avoid touching other people, I dragged home sacks of apricots from the morning market. The weather warmed as crisp white peaches were transformed into a syrupy glaze accented with thyme. Soft plums were reduced to a ruby jewel brew. In sweltering heat, I ate so much watermelon—that was not turned into jam. As temperatures relaxed, I foraged wild crabapples from abandoned trees in a village to the north. In a friend’s kitchen, a group of us chatted while chopping up the small red fruits. Agonizing over a political election on the other side of the ocean, I made marmalade again, and stirred a batch to help soothe jittery nerves. Seasons move in cycles; the year passed quickly and slowly.
Presented here is a recipe to make fruit jam. The recipe is versatile, any type of seasonal fresh fruit will do. It takes time, which is maybe the point of making it. It is a way to do something, rather than sit and do nothing. Although, in actuality, it is all about the waiting. As the jam cooks and thickens, stare down into the soul of the dark steamy pot—an abyss of cooked fruit. Study the roiling bubbles and listen to how the sounds they make change over time. A slow-cooked jam, much like the daily practice of survival, takes time.
To gain a sense of time passing, use these instructions as a moving meditation; remember to exhale slowly while reading and cooking.
Fruit jams use sugar and occasionally acid to preserve seasonal fresh fruit for later enjoyment. There are many names for preserved fruit: jam, conserve, preserve, jelly, marmalade, chutney, confit, fruit butter, fruit curd, and many, many more. In this recipe, the word “jam” is used to represent this larger category of preserved fruits. Almost any kind of fruit can be preserved. Using a traditional method of a long, slow boil to drive moisture out of the fruit, the resulting product is preserved and thickened at the same time. This recipe does not use commercial pectin to help set the jam. Instead, a sliced apple can be added to any recipe to help with thickening. Apple contains natural pectin.
Standard recipes use a proportion of 1:1 fruit to sugar ratio, based on weight. This jam recipe uses a fruit to sugar ratio of 2:1, half the amount of sugar that most recipes recommend. This jam is less sweet, and brings out more subtle flavors of the fruit. However, less sugar also means that this jam does not keep for extended periods. Store the finished jam in the refrigerator, and consume within two months.
Use a kitchen scale to measure the weight of all the ingredients to get the proportions correct. Slice the fruit and mix it together with the sugar in a large stainless-steel stock pot. Use any large pot, the heavier the better. Stir it all together, put the lid on the pot, and let it macerate overnight.
The next day, heat the pot on a medium-low flame until the sugar and fruit are bubbling and simmering. Periodically stir with a wooden or heat-resistant utensil to prevent the jam from sticking to the bottom and burning. Continue to cook the jam with the lid off on low heat for one-and-a-half to two hours, or until half the liquid has evaporated. As the jam thickens, the bubbles become smaller. The jam might have foam collecting on top. The sound of the boiling changes; the pitch becomes higher, smaller bubbles start popping faster.
If the heat is too high, the jam will begin to foam up and may boil over. If the jam starts to foam up, take the pot off the stove until the bubbling subsides. The jam and the stove burner are very hot; be careful to avoid getting burned. After the foaming subsides, return the pot to the burner at a lower heat level. Skim off any remaining foam floating at the top and discard.
To test if the jam is done cooking, put several teaspoons in the freezer ahead of time. Once the liquid in the jam is reduced, use one of the frozen spoons to scoop up some of the jam liquid and place it back into the freezer.
After five minutes, check the jam consistency by holding the spoon up vertically. If the jam is runny, keep cooking and testing until it achieves the desired consistency. The jam is ready when it does not run and its surface wrinkles when poked from the side. Once the jam is cooked, leave it on the stove with the heat off for ten minutes to allow the fruit to suspend evenly throughout the jam.
Store the jam in clean sterilized jars. To sterilize, first wash the jars in warm soapy water and rinse. Next, boil the jars and their lids in hot water for fifteen minutes. Use tongs to remove the jars and lids from the hot water and dry them upside down on a rack.
When the jars are dry, fill with the just-cooked jam. Screw the lids on tight, turn the jars upside down and leave them on the counter to cool. As the jam and jars cool, a vacuum is created inside the jar. This minimizes the amount of oxygen in the jar, allowing the jam to keep longer with less spoilage.
This jam should be kept cool (5°C or less) and eaten within 60 days. To preserve the jam for longer, increase the proportions of sugar.
Rania Ho (Artist, Co-founder of Arrow Factory)
Rania Ho is a multidisciplinary artist working in installation and performance. Her works employ a humorous, unexpected approach to everyday objects and situations as a means of interrogating broader social or cultural concerns. Ho received her BA in Theater Arts from UCLA and a master’s degree from the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University. She lives and works in Beijing and San Francisco.
Ho has participated in solo and group exhibitions throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States, including at the Luggage Store Gallery, San Francisco (2018); Capsule Gallery, Shanghai (2017); CASS Sculpture Foundation, Sussex, UK (2016); BANK, Shanghai (2014); Meta Gallery, Shanghai (2015); Observation Society, Guangzhou (2013); St Andrews Museum, Fife, UK (2013); Shanghai Gallery of Art, Shanghai (2011); Collective Gallery, Edinburgh (2011); Platform China, Beijing (2010); San-Art, Ho Chi Minh City (2010); Long March Space, Beijing (2008); the Thirteenth International Symposium of Electronic Art (ISEA)/Zero One Festival, San Jose (2006); and the 2nd Guangzhou Triennial, Guangzhou (2005). Ho is a co-founder of Arrow Factory, one of the longest-standing, independently run alternative art spaces in Beijing, which operated in a storefront from March 2008 to September 2019.