Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Rituals of Melbourne

This is a project for which I am seeking people from diverse backgrounds around Melbourne to engage with, to explore our relationship to food and ritual. Of interest are habits we take for granted or rarely see, like foraging for edible weeds, growing vegetables, cooking and sharing meals and participating in community events to see food as a marker of what binds us together while showing us as different.

If you, or someone in your community do something considered unique or unusual that involves food I'd like to hear about it. For example:
  • My nostalgia food is fritters, they remind me of home and loved ones gone. By cooking them I have vivid childhood memory recall of eating my favorite meal cooked by my grandmother.
  • A young guy I know can't start work without his breakfast ritual at MacDonald drive-through, eating fast food is his choice but for others a socioeconomic consideration rather than convenience.
  • The smell of soil in the dead of Winter is distinct and it reminds me to sow certain crops for spring and summer in my vegetable garden. It's intrinsic to a yearning for fresh greens when following a diet that tunes your body to the seasons.

I'd really like to hear your story. Nothing is too obscure or uninteresting, so please get in touch.

Everyone partakes of rituals, some of them we don't even know we are doing, some are lots of work or conducted on a subconscious level. Family, community and religious events usually involve sharing a meal because taste, touch and smell are intense triggers of memory recall for embedding knowledge and information when associated with sound and sight. In essence, significant ritual events in any culture or social group are full sensory experiences. As a consequence, food rituals are profound forms of remembering the past as much as preparing for the future, with some foods designed to remind us of adversity, and what to avoid as much as what to celebrate.

Converging Boundaries, Soul Food Proximity is the second of three socially engaged projects to explore shifting roles for food in context with urbanisation and global cuisine influences. The first project was Converging Boundaries, Everyone and Nobody undertaken with a 2014 Asialink Residency in Malaysia. With the third Converging Boundaries, Altered States being the outcome of a one-year community engagement project in Albury and will be presented at MAMA 2016. 

This blog is a document of the process and progression of the project for outcomes presented at West Space Gallery  December 2015. During a one-week interactive cooking/performance, the audience will be invited to participate in a ritualised process and share a meal that reflects on diverse roles eating has as an expression or representation of ones identity.

Fat Hen (Meld) is an abundant nutritious edible weed synonymous with Melbourne. Meld was cultivated on the estate of Lord Melbourne's family in England for hundreds of years and is responsible for the first half of the family name. As a temperate climate weed it now grows wild around Melbourne.

Leave a comment below, or email to arrange a time and place at your convenience. 


Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for future posts.

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