The Art of Eating at “Something I Ate”

July 26, 2011 § 3 Comments

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Huffing after a hurried dash from Port Authority to Williamsburg and slightly wet thanks to a light April shower, I finally made it. That is, to “Something I Ate,” a night where a Williamsburg art gallery turned into a food gathering and where artists became foodies. Dreamed up by Sam Kim from Skimkim Foods and Kat Popiel of On Plate, Always Hungry, “Something I Ate” invited 12 artists to chronicle a week’s worth of indulgent dining, sloppy snacking and everyday eating and then create art based on their eating habits to hang for one night only at Rouge 58.

“The week of eating was more of a microscope for them,” Sam said in an email of the artists’ feat. Many of the artists’ dining habits consisted of downing coffee, eating with their hands and inhaling tacos, according to Sam. “We never realize what we eat, how we feel when we’re going it, etc.”

Artists were left to their own devices when it came to journaling their food. Many took photographs and the assignment literally. Some artists played a bit more with their food. Slutlust (Osvaldo Chance Jimenez) hung ceramic mugs with streams of red paint spilling out of the cup and onto text on the floor. Called “The Vietnam Diet,” Slutlust summed up his week in food simply. “Living in a country where we waste food and give each other kitchen ware as gifts, you don’t really know how shitty you are to yourself and others until you try to diet,” the paper plaque read. Near the entrance of the gallery, Gastronomista arranged golden lollipops laced with root liquor to spell #sweet, a reference to Twitter hashtags and the phenomenon of encountering food through photographs and posts without actually eating it. Contrary to this experiential hitch in social media, these sticky and sweet lollipops could be plucked off and instantly eaten by gallery-goers.

During my sprint to the subway, I missed the triumphant plating of the night’s dishes, each crafted by Sam and carefully laid out in a row to represent New York City streets and rustic country roads. The urban street, made of green lentils with parsley pesto, lemon vinaigrette, roasted cauliflower, peperoncini, feta cheese, Kalamata olives and topped with chives, was met by a banh-mi curb and a sidewalk weaved with quinoa, cardamom, fennel, roasted pistachios, radicchio and golden raisins. Grilled ginger-infused chicken wings echoed bones Sam would find on the street while salad greens symbolized grass. Soft, sautéed ramps with cremini and pom pom mushrooms laid on a bed of toasted coffee beans, signaling the arrival of the country road.

For Sam, this connection between food, art and gathering was always clear.

“It always bugged me how the food was such a disconnect to the event,” Sam said of past catering events. “People would talk and grab, chew and then talk about the food, but that part was what I wanted more of.”

“Imagine going out with your friends, going on a date, a picnic, and having no food?” Sam posed. In this case, it’s an art gallery get-together. “It gives us so much more than 160 kilocalories. It gives us life.”

With a plate of food in hand, I perused the artwork on display, wondering with each bite about the artists’ food experience. For some works, I could see everything they ate, down to the gloss of grease atop the food and the Styrofoam container. Others beckoned me with a simple edible invitation. Though I fumbled with holding my paper plate, utensils and lollipop, the food wasn’t a distraction from the artwork, but a culinary complement.

“It’s more than breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Sam said, “rather we just don’t ever stop to think about it.”

At “Something I Ate,” I didn’t just think about it, but I savored it.

Catch the next “Something I Ate” this Thursday, July 28th, at Kinfold Studios by ordering tickets here.

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