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A love affair with the fabric of life

Dark Kitchen (theme number 23).
Regissør: Charlotte Du Cann,
(England)

MAT / This book can be described like this: «A celebration of stories, poetry and art that explores the culture of food in a time of converging ecological crises – from the devouring agricultural machine to the regenerative fermenting jar.»




(THIS ARTICLE IS MACHINE TRANSLATED by Google from Norwegian)

(Kingsnorth Paul Jyoti)

«We live in a very unpredictable, disturbing, violent reality and yet in the midst of this violent reality we will try to find some coherence and some peace of mind. We will try to find a way to love ourselves somehow, because we have been taught to believe that we cannot produce anything good enough ourselves. Our grandparents did not leave us with anything tangible, but they left us a seed of life. There is nothing stronger than this message».

This is how the Dark Mountain Project writes, as in Dark Mountain Issue 23 with the title Dark kitchen writes about food.

The stories of food

We all need to eat to live. It is as existentially banal as "spring follows winter". How to do it in a socially just way and in harmony with nature – this is a question that today concerns people far beyond activists in grassroots organisations.

"When you go out with a shopping basket, do you come back with blood on your hands?"

In Dark Kitchen, some of the stories about food that are otherwise not told in our civilization are collected. In one of the chapters, it is told about a man who in his changeable existence finds closeness to food/bread/nature – he bakes his own bread at every place he goes on trips and excursions. He is also inspired by food artists who relate to nature. The question we should ask ourselves is what do you as an artist or as a seeker choose to eat, knowing that "when you go out with a shopping basket, you return with blood on your hands?"

Food is not a matter for intellectual debate: it is «a physical and emotional memory and a deep memory of time, which is cultural and has a personal history». Many relationships from the past can be mentioned: grandma's dealings with the chickens, butchering pigs and hares, picking berries, school parties with fresh applesauce, fish and chips by the sea, food snobbery, the smell of baked buns at scout camp, sociability with a white tablecloth on the table, or a farmer's market in Germany.

How do we find a new way of interacting with the world that will mean that all the 'glossy culture' that is hidden inside you and everyone you know and that is constantly reflected from glossy magazine pages, on television screens, on your best friend's Instagram, dying out?

I Dark kitchen the reader is reminded of one of the oldest and simplest stories ever told: a love affair with the fabric of life.

Northwest Paddock In The Morning, Nahala Farm, Mississippi. Photo: Paul Rankin.

Ready for the next step?

The inevitable question is: how do we change our life history based on thousands of years of life in hunter/gatherer bodies, thousands of years in wheat and barley-fed civilizations, and on nomadic milk and shepherd geographies?

The twenty-third edition of Dark Mountain is "a celebration of stories, poetry and art that explores the culture of food in a time of converging ecological crises – from the devouring agricultural machine to the regenerative fermenting jar".

Northwest Paddock In The Morning, Nahala Farm, Mississippi. Photo: Paul Rankin.

Here, the regenerative acts of resistance that take place in kitchens and fields around the world are documented. In the book, you taste the sweet and the salty, the sour and the bitter. Together you look deep into the belly of the beast: into the factories of ultra-processed food; into the butcher's safe; into the hunger of the arctic sea ice; and into an elite dining room where endangered animals are on the menu.

But we also remember the connections that nourish the living world: the wild salmon of the Atlantic and Pacific; the seaweed that creates gardens on a Hebridean island; the microbes that connect the wild yeast of Montana with the wheat of East Anglia to the sourdough breads that feed a remote mountain community in Australia.

All food that makes sense even as the civilized world falls apart.

Only through practice and practice can we really learn what it means to think, feel and act organically. In order to be in harmony with the living systems, to restore the earth, to eat beautifully with a conscience, to find meaning in one of everyday's humble meals, an imaginative relationship must be created with the physical
ke world. Our hearts needed to be revived by something stronger, more alluring than bad information.

Children and young people are educated based on tomorrow's values ​​and not yesterday's.

And of course it is important that children and young people are educated based on tomorrow's values ​​and not yesterday's – a point Kant believed in his time was crucial for humanity to make moral progress at all.

One of the world's best restaurants, Noma, which ushered in a new food culture at the beginning of this century, has announced that the restaurant will cease operations from 2024 on the grounds that in the future it will prioritize solely continuing with the innovative development work. Culture is prioritized over business.

Dark Mountain has – like Noma – held on to its independence to promote innovative art and writing. Dark kitchen is «a testimony to all those who value culture over the market. Who cooks, gathers, harvests, forages, nurtures earthly life with all its rich and aromatic flavors, in that those who stir the pot hold the lovers of the world in their hands».

Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Juhl-Nielsen resides in Copenhagen.

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