The tension between individual and shared experiences is defining our vision of the futureby Jessica Abrahams / October 2, 2013 / Leave a comment
I had to politely refuse the honey caterpillar and cucumber sandwich seasoned with crickets. “I’m a vegetarian,” I explained regretfully—and truthfully, though I noticed there was suddenly an unusually high proportion of vegetarians in the room. Sadly my excuse didn’t hold when the shredded turnip fermented in whey was passed around. “Doesn’t it have meat in?” I asked hopefully. The person next to me shook his head. I took a tentative lick. “Mmm,” I said, unconvincingly. “This will be much more common in the future,” the chef explained. By preserving food, fermentation helps reduce waste, and apparently the bacteria it produces can be good for you. “Wonderful,” I grimaced, as I was handed a tub of elderberries possibly gathered from the side of a train track.
This was FutureFest, a two-day festival held over the weekend in Shoreditch to explore ideas about what life might be like in the future. In the Gastrodome I tried flowers, fermented foods, and a delicious grape infused with blackberry. Charles Spence of Oxford University explained how the restaurants of the future will use sound, touch and visuals to enhance flavours. It’s incredible how just the sound of cooking can get you licking your lips, for example. The House of Wolf restaurant in Islington has been experimenting with playing different sounds to diners to change the flavour of their food—some sounds can make food taste sweeter, and others more bitter.
Andoni Luis Aduriz—of El Bulli fame—explained how the haute cuisine concepts of originality, sensory stimulation and ambience were first developed by Marinetti with his “Futurist cooking” in the 1930s. Amazingly, these are the ideas that still hold sway today. Aduriz showed us newspaper articles from the 1920s which imagined meals of the future reduced to mere pills. A 1926 cartoon from the “Ogden Standard-Examiner” showed a futuristic boss shouting at an employee for taking as long as four minutes to eat lunch.
Aduriz talked about how food has become healthier, a trend that will continue. “When I started cooking school, they used to say that the doctor’s work is to save people’s health and the chef’s work is to ruin it. That has obviously changed now.” He imagined us eating insects and meat grown in laboratories in the future…