Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Chai styling

February 28, 2007

Chai styling at the Delhi Sabzi Mandi

This is how chai wa served to the Doors 9 JUICE urban agriculture delegation at Delhi’s Sabzi Mandi (wholesale vegetable market). Beautiful and neat.

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The Edible City

February 26, 2007

the edible city

For the past few months, together with colleagues Hans Ibelings and Anneke Moors, I have been curating an exhibtion for the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Maastricht titled the Edible City. The exhibition is about the urban environment and its food systems. There was a time when city-dwellers could more or less provide for their own alimentary requirements. The entire production, distribution, consumption and recycling of food took place primarily in the city and its immediate surroundings. But since the Industrial Revolution, the chain of food ‘from field to fork’ has greatly increased in length.

The Edible City presents a diverse range of proposals and strategies to produce food in or near the city and that offer the opportunity to experience the city in a different way. As befits the subject, much of the exhibition is itself edible.

The exhibition is based on an idea by Guus Beumer and is curated by Debra Solomon (, Anneke Moors and Hans Ibelings. The exhibition design is by Event Architecture, in collaboration with Hans Engelbrecht and Margriet Visser (de Groene Stap).

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Visiting a langar

February 20, 2007

a langar in delhi
The entire meal, the ingredients, the preparation and the cleanup, all of it is donated by the community. Everyone eats together as equals, sitting side by side at the langar.

In one week’s time the Doors of Perception: JUICE round table workshops will begin in Delhi. Despite all of the tragic news that we heard today, I’m still looking forward to going. I thought I’d post some photos of the langar that I attended at the Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, the last time I was there in 2005. A langar is a Sikh ‘free kitchen’ and eating there (and working there to help prepare the communally produced food) is one of the Three Pillars of Sikhism. The practice was introduced by the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak to ensure feelings of equality amongst all Sikhs, who regularly sit down and eat food together in these ritual meals.

dal making langar-style
Cookin’ up one heq of a lot of lentil soup at the langar

The food is vegetarian so that everyone will feel comfortable joining in and eating. Community members donate one-tenth of their wealth to the Gurdwara’s food stores. Any auspicious occasion is reason enough for a family to volunteer and work preparing food for the langar.

chapati rolling at the langar
Community members help roll out the chapati on a long fabric and flour covered surface

chapati baking at the langar
A very dynamic chapati frying moment. The community members herd their chapatis over the enormous frying area. No oil is used.

dishwashing at the langar
The best part (I think) is the dishwashing zone. In what looks like the world’s longest one lane swimming pool, but then made of marble, community members toss the dirty stainless steel plates from vat to vat, clattering the dishes and making the most enormous din possible. After the dishes have made it from one side to the other being nudged along and thrown and splashed, and all of the dishwashers are soaking wet from what seems like a really fun waterfight, the dishes are deemed to be clean and are tossed into the ‘clean cage’ where they are left to dry before being passed around for the next sitting. Exquisite visually and accoustically!

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