Sunday, January 17, 2010

chewing on santa fe

Starvation Seeds will be in Santa Fe in May. I'm not sure exactly when yet, but people attending the Society for Cultural Anthropology conference will be contributing a variety of edibles under the banner of a "multispecies meal." Look for my name and for Eben Kirksey, organizer, & see the call for the posted last week.

I'm not sure what I'll make yet. Liquid tamales were very popular at my tasting, but I feel obliged to work with piñon nuts, given our Santa Fe location. Piñon nuts won't be in season then, so I might have to bring some back-up nuts. (Trader Joes imports theirs and offers three or four possible origin locations, I forget where. Here in Australia they mostly come from China, and are almost as expensive as buying "native" seeds in New Mexico.) If anyone has a stash of piñon you're willing to contribute, please let me know. I'll probably end up flying via Albuquerque, as I have to leave directly for London after SCA.

I wonder if Plumpy'nut is on the ground in Haiti. I hope so; mud cookie research indicated that Haitian kids could use some protein even before the earthquake.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Piling up…

I spent a lot of time last spring contemplating the Haitian practice of making, selling, and eating cookies made from mud. Mud cookies make many things clear: Haiti has severe ecological and economic problems. Haitians find the process of harvesting, cultivating, and eating clay compelling enough to develop economies and labor systems to support the industry. I don't have enough knowledge of the situation in Haiti to assert that the mud cookie phenomenon might be related to Haiti's revolutionary tradition and their desire to remain outside of colonial systems, but, I pondered this and other questions. (For a thoughtful, if character-limited, analysis of Haiti's revolution and colonial politics/politics of slavery, see my colleague Greg Caldwell's recent facebook posts on the subject.) I hope that the current climate in Haiti after the earthquake (US control of their airport, apparent US control of the relief effort, Haiti's predicament regarding aid from many countries, few of which have active, viable revolutionary politics) will acquire &/or maintain an attitude of revolutionary solidarity. This is an impossible hope, I'm afraid, but...I hope anyway.

Footage from Port au Prince reminds me again that my grandfather has died. A teacher in high school theorized the process of grieving for the many deaths experienced in any life as "a pile of bodies." Each new death adds to the pile, and it gets bigger, there, in the corner of my mind that takes care of death and dying. Haiti truly has piles. Grandparents and grandchildren and parents and children are piled up, buried alive, buried dead, buried anonymously, buried having been archived by digital cameras, their clothes having been snipped at for identification, or not. I am so grateful for my grandfather's grave, and even for the elaborate coffin and embalming process that I found unnecessary at the time. Why not keep a body safe, if you can?

I gave my grandfather's eulogy. I didn't ask to or especially want to, but I was happy to. He did talk with me a lot, maybe because I'm comfortable with silences and could outlast his own comfort with silence. My cousin Gina offered her adaptation of our grandmother's spaghetti sauce, one of Grandpa's favorites, over on her blog, Gluten-Free Gourmand. And I've decided to post my eulogy here. Grandpa was a huge part of my process with this project, and I'll remember him every time I return to it. He made many valiant efforts to be an internet user; we even got my grandma an e-mail address at the peak of this activity (her handle was oldladykelley). He would surely get a kick out of knowing he lives online, alongside recipes for spaghetti sauce and ruminations about death and eating mud.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Nil by Mouth by Roger Ebert

This is an evocative, insightful piece about what it's like to use a stomach tube.

via thaths & mefi--thanks!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Join Starvation Seeds in Santa Fe! Call below.

The Multispecies Meal
@ the Society for Cultural Anthropology meetings in Santa Fe
May 7-8, 2010

Artists, anthropologists, and significant others came together to
break bread at The Multispecies Salon, a special off-site event at the
2008 meetings of AAA in San Francisco. We shared food in an exercise
of being and becoming with Donna Haraway’s companion species. A
bestiary of agencies, kinds of relatings, come together in companion
species. “Companion comes from the Latin cum panis, ‘with bread,’” she
writes. During our meal we ate sourdough bread while Jake Metcalf told
us about a microbial culture that crossed the Oregon Trail and then
propagated itself on the internet. Acorn mush was prepared by Linda
Noel, a Native American poet who told us that she always left some
acorns behind “for the deer.”

Artisanal cheeses from nearby Cowgirl Creamery featuring organic milk
and ambient as well as freeze-dried microbes from earth, air, and lab,
were provided by Heather Paxson. She told us about what she calls
“microbiopolitics”, the ways that human systems of ethics and
governance bear on the doings of microorganisms.

Other items on our table involved small-scale relationships of mutual
care as well as mutual violence. Geographer Jake Kosek had just
collected fresh honey from his own beehive and was sporting a swollen
hand from a fresh sting. While we sipped dandelion root tea,
performance artist Caitlin Berrigan asked that we give blood to a
dandelion plant, providing much needed nutrients. The violence was
asymmetrical to be sure—bee stings and finger pricks are not
equivalent to the large-scale robbery of a hive’s resources, or the
uprooting of a plant. Still, this minor violence to human bodies was a
reminder that the entangled relations among companion species are
often fraught.

Eating a meal in an art gallery turned mundane routine into an
opportunity for rumination and reflection. In trying to swallow the
products of multispecies labor relations and nested ecological
becomings, more than one gallery goer experienced indigestion. The
fermented smell of sourdough yeast lingered on the palate, mixing with
the bitter taste of dandelion tea and acorn mush.

We will host another multispecies meal at the 2010 meetings of the
Society for Cultural Anthropology in Santa Fe. This will be a poster
session, of sorts, where people can informally talk about their work
and break bread together. People who are already participating in
formal paper presentations are welcome to submit their edible
organisms for consideration. Entrants should be prepared to bring
enough food to share with audience members.

To be included in the session proposal, entrants should simply submit
a title for their project by Monday, January 11th, 2010 at noon EST.
Address all entries and queries to S. Eben Kirksey
( Late entrants will be considered up until the
SCA meetings in May.

More information about the Multispecies Salon:

About Me

My photo
Lindsay Kelley is an artist and writer researching bioart, fringe foods, and uncommon modes of food preparation and ingestion. She is currently completing her book manuscript, The Bioart Kitchen. Lindsay holds a MFA in Digital Art & New Media and a Ph.D in the History of Consciousness, both from the University of California Santa Cruz. She works at the Public Library of Science on the PLOS ONE editorial team.