Diggings 9 February 2020

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Kumera plot at Te Parapara, Hamilton Gardens [Photo Paul van Reyk 2019]

13th New Zealand Symposium of Gastronomy and Food

Finally made it to a New Zealand Symposium and a very enjoyable, stimulating time it was. Read my highlights here.

women making chocolate
Woman making chocolate.

The Chocolate-Brewing Witches of Colonial Latin America

One mother-daughter pair, the wealthy mulata, or African and European, widow Francisca de Agreda and her daughter, Juana, mixed their pubic hair and nail clippings into a cup of hot chocolate. They served the brew to Juana’s love interest, the local village priest. But they were thwarted by their slave, who reported the women to the local authorities as witches. María de Santa Inés, meanwhile—described by contemporaries as a “one-eyed, dark-skinned mulata”—earned the nickname La Panecito, The Pastry, for allegedly feeding her enemies bewitched chocolate pastries. Several neighbors testified to her nefarious motives. Doña Luisa de Gálvez, meanwhile, didn’t want revenge or seduction: She just wanted her husband to stop beating her. Following the advice of an indigenous healer named Anita, she washed her genitals with water and mixed the water with magic green and cinnamon-hued powders in a cup of hot chocolate. The healer went to a religious jail; we don’t know if doña Luisa was ever freed from the prison of her marriage.

A fascinating look at how women who bridled at men’s authority both spiritual and secular were controlled.


VR dining debuts at James Beard House

Each morsel is visualized in the experience in unexpected and unusual ways. The dissonance between the virtual representation of the morsel and the ways that one experiences it as the flavor, texture and mouthfeel is processed in the mouth is the real magic of Aerobanquets RMX and the VR dining experience. “My proposition was: how do you visualize taste? What is the shape, the color of a flavor?,” Casalegno explained. His answer was to create a system for categorizing ingredients and flavor combinations that would translate into colors and textures for his 3D models. Using Niki Segnit’s Flavor Thesaurus as a guide, Casalegno wrote a program that would visualize sensorial elements by generating data-sets of points, lines, meshes and textures based on flavor combination categories like meaty, earthy, mustardy and floral fruity.

I like the idea, but the accompanying picture of the process is a tad off-putting.


Aerobanquets RMX Installation view at FoodHack Festival-Gwangju 2019. [Photo Mattia Casalegno]

New form, same flavour in Annie Larkin’s New Are Chicken Egg

Through developing An Egg Without A Chicken, Larkins sought to explore how an egg could be replicated without a chicken, but also how it could be improved. This desire to balance taste and texture with something new led the designer to mold the “eggs” into new shapes.

Mum told me never to play with my food…but with these for breakfast that wouldn’t count, would it ?


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Mold Magazine. Annie Larkins Egg Without a chicken design. [Photo Tom Mannion]

From adobo to zaatar: Australian supermarkets increase international food offerings

Sophie Roberts is the co-host of Sydney-based podcast Highly Enthused, which provides food and lifestyle product recommendations for consumers. The 31-year-old suggests international ingredients are also increasing in popularity because Australian millennials have grown up with access to a wider variety of cuisines than previous generations.

 “Now those millennials are sourcing ingredients they’ve tasted in Thai, Middle Eastern and Japanese restaurants to use at home,” she said.

30 year olds may want to do a bit of historying, they might find that there were at least two generations of Australians who had gone adventuring before millennials and did a whole lot to pave the multicultural way for them.


Mad Honey

It’s called mad honey, and it has a slightly bitter taste and a reddish color. More notably, a few types of rhododendrons, among them Rhododendron luteum and Rhododendron ponticum, contain grayanotoxin, which can cause dramatic physiological reactions in humans and animals. Depending on how much a person consumes, reactions can range from hallucinations and a slower heartbeat to temporary paralysis and unconsciousness.

The secret of why people head to the Blue Mountains for the annual Rhododendron Festival is out. Tho tell the truth I haven’t heard of any cases of rhododendron dreaming in Oz.


In brief

 The real Paleo diet included lots of carbs, writes Michael Le Page in New Scientist 11 January 2020, based on ana analysis of charred fragments of a 170,000 year old cave in southern Africa which shows evidence that the charcoal was of the rhizomes of a plant from the Hypoxis genus, a genus rich in carbohydrates, in this case a yam that is still eaten today.

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