Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Creative Taste Bud

Creative taste bud is an unusual symposium where we discuss, celebrate and explore knowledge around taste bud, sustainability, travelling, culture, creativity, and memory. The theatre stage showed an excellent combination of research, performance, and innovation that dive into memories, storytelling, learning and sharing. The event was held in Aarhus Teather, 4-5 September 2017. The  organizing committee was 10 people from Smag For Livet project. There were 12 speakers in four plenary sessions, 8 workshop and innovation showcases, 2 soap dialogs, and dinner. There were 133 people participated in this symposium. I will report what was going on each program I attended.

The plenary sessions

There were four plenary session during two days. The first one is about molecules and memory with Marije Vogelzang, Charles Spence, and David Sutton as the speakers. After lunch time, the plenary session was led by Mark Schatzker with Gordon Shepherd and David Howes as the speakers. They talked about Nerves and narratives. The first plenary session on the second day was about landscape and learning by Lone Wiggers, Paul Rozin, and Amy Trubek. The last plenary session is about substance and sociality by Thorsten Schmidt, Ole G. Mouritsen, and Carole Counihan. As this event was held in a theatre, each plenary session has different thoughtful decoration on stage that reflects the topic.

The workshop and innovation showcases

On day 1, I tried three different comte cheeses from three different region in France. Two of them were produced in the same month (during August) and the other was produced in December. It is amazing to see the very clear different color the cheese produced. The summer production gives a darker color and the winter gives a pale color. It is clear how the feed of the cows affects the milk ingredients and the taste and color of the cheese further.

At the second stand on day 1, I tried three different beverages, tasted them and guess what kind of aroma/flavour in it. It show how the appearance can trick our mind and manipulate the perception. I could guess correctly the strawberry flavour, but not the banana.

The third stand was about ants. I did not dare to taste it. I just touch and smell it. It smells like orange. Very interesting. So far, I thought ants just smell like formic acid. They explain that each ant has different smells. It makes me remember about the famous red ants from Papua.

The fourth stand is the most fun, titled “From abstract to tangible”. It is a workshop where participants were asked to recreate the texture of grapes and almond using many varieties of the provided textile and materials. The materials are all in white color to make us focus only on texture.

On the second day, there were also 4 stands. The first one is about blending wine and sound. Obviously, I did not try it. The second stand was delivered by Mathias Skovmand-Larsen from Nordic Food Lab who asked the participants to watch a short movie about coffee while he is preparing the coffee next to them. It is like 4D movie then. After the movie was finished, he led the discussion on the very first moment they can remember on tasting coffee.

The third stand was a display of drawing, painting and exhibiting taste that works in collaboration with Smag For Livet. The artist shows his work on book about taste buddies and a kit to taste and describe. The book is interesting because he can illustrate it very close to what we feel and taste on food.

The forth stand was the sense table where participant can learn and try about umami, texture and got an explanation on it.

The soapbox dialog

The soapbox dialogues facilitated dialogues and discussions on taste. The dialogues picked up themes from the sessions and bring them to open discussions where the audience were invited to participate in rethinking taste together.

Reflection: What did I learn?

This symposium has been very inspiring to me. Meeting amazing people in their area, hearing what is going on, realizing how a simple act can bring a good impact as long as we deliver it and present it very well to the audience. I got so many great new idea and insight about food and how we can develop our community through taste education. It made me realise that taste education is an important foundation for sustainable and well nutrition, not only for our body, but also for nature and environment. Not only introducing knowledge on flavour in early age, but having the kids involve in many activities regarding taste exploration, food choice, and challenging the kids to have their own opinion, idea and being listened of what they experienced are ways to make them memorize the experience. Learning through experience will make the memory last longer and this is important for building their food choice when they have grown up.

In addition, education is a sustainable way of reaching out next generation to be aware of sustainability. I would really like to make a project in solving nutrition and sustainability problem through taste education in Indonesia. I really hope that government would have the same concern and many other institutions would be willing to join the project.

The innovation show cases program made people connected. For the new people in this bubble probably it is difficult to reach other people to even start to talk. But the innovation show cases made people talk and discuss each other (even though we do not know each other) and wondering and asking many questions both to the presenter and also to the other participants. It was also so much fun because we can experience and actively involved, using our own creativity to explore food; cheese, wine, flavour, ants, coffee, texture, and gastro physics. It’s been very fruitful to me.

I found the innovation show case is a good way to make people connects and give a material to talk on. The soap box dialog was also good. People may come and go in the room, but for those who are interested are encouraged to give their opinion and share their thought with the expert. It also a good way to share experience both ways, bottom up and top down. Form the expert to the common people and from the common people to the expert.  The discussion atmosphere in that soapbox dialog was informally cozy thus made us more relax to share opinion.