While some of us forget about our precious Mother Earth on the 22nd of April, some take this day very seriously. As an example take 36 people crashing clay plates onto the grounds of Milejowe Pole after consuming their intermezzos of a 4-hour long dinner. Giving back to the Earth what was taken away from it meant, that the Polish Food Think Tank has proved itself a true ‘think tank’ indeed.
The final dinner was only a tacit representation of the extensive research and work the FTT has been doing for the past six months. Its live transmission over Skype could instantly transport those uninvited, who visited the BWA Dizajn Contemporary Art Gallery. Thanks to Michał Werda, one of the chefs, the gallery’s guests could feel, see and smell the entire process of the FTT group but also palatably connect with Milejowice, through a limited finger food version of the dinner.
Both the exhibition and the dinner were supposed to end the project of “Earth and Water” together with a ceremonial burial of the 12x4,5 square meter shed built halfway underground on the farm of Ewelina Żygadło, the key farmer. Plans changed and the shed will most likely turn into a greenhouse for further research, growing mushrooms or integration activities, says Ewelina.
An inevitable part of the process is that decisions change over time and ideas grow on one another. On the final day, it allowed to go beyond the mere vision of a well- performed dinner and through the imperfections, see the multifaceted dimensions of it. Each dish was ensued with a little background information. When the plates were just about ready to leave the pass, waitresses - Academy of Fine Arts students - would spray scents matching dishes. Burnt wood itched the nostrils before the long awaited il primo corso of clay-baked vegetables. A gaze at this ostensibly complete dish left to wonder on the several attempts it took Tomasz Trąbski to achieve a clay mix that would withstand high heat without cracking open.
With the second course of pigeon broth with local veg arriving, being a result of a collateral authorship, it was clear that one chef did not make it to the event. It took Luiza Trisno several trials and changes in the recipe to end up with the century egg she has served with snail caviar.
The heartwarmingly crooked bowls for sturgeon and smoked mussel by Michał Czekajło were a result of an unfortunate mishap that almost cost months of preparation. Less than two weeks before the deadline the oven consumed more than 50 pieces of handmade bowls that five students were molding for weeks. Since the FTT is all about the team, in no time the news spread and help came in for clay therapy in exchange for making the impossible, possible, says Karina Marusińska – ceramic section leader.
Rather than going for a mental walk into the forest for the final course with pine scent sprayed over the premises, guests were forced to take a walk outside, as the strong wind has stolen the well-done part of boar in the camp kitchen. Consequently it was on take two that the challenging course of Adrian Klonowski from Metamorfoza, Gdańsk with dried wild boar, a piece of honeycomb, fresh alder leaves, grilled boar and delicately sweet waffles, filled the tables.
It was only for an excursion to the university that a few missing ingredients were revealed such as the earth-flavored water that could not be extracted owing to insufficiently aromatic soil in Milejowice or an earthy extract from beetroot that caught a fungus day before the final dinner.
Some items at the exhibition withstood a test of time, some vanished from the space, just like dishes in the menu. Displayed cracked soup plates foretold the mistakes that took turn during dinner. This showed the entire project as a living organism, that leaves a long lasting sensorial memory and relationship to build upon further. FTT is not only about the four elements but everything that builds up their ever-growing environment. Since there is always room for more to discover and unveil, continuity is inevitable.
Dal is one of those recipes that goes all the way back to the Indus Valley Civilisation. Unlike dishes such as biryani, brought to India by the Moghuls, it is one of those foods that has always been there. It is therefore a building block of Indian culture.