Umaimi food and
www.umamifestival2010.com was invited to show artist's shorts @ rooftop films www.rooftopfilms.com at the Old American Can Factory www.xoprojects.com in Brooklyn. Communal Table was invited to serve supper at the Maker's Market in the Can Factory prior to the films, and snacks at the party following the movies.
To meet the art and craft of the event we wanted an engaging menu that would push folks to think of food on multiple levels, so we designed a deck of playing cards where each card represented an aspect of the food we were serving, no written descriptions of the dishes, just images or words indicating texture, color, locality, etc. Folks bought carnival tickets (3 for $5) which purchased a chance to pick cards from the deck which in turn determined what they'd get to eat.
Random selection made folks anxious... "what if I don't eat something, or have an allergy, or don't like what I get?" "Can I trade one card for another? Can I have a special deal?"
We hired two young actors (my son and his best friend!) to be barkers and they were fabulous, practicing sleight of hand "Pick a card, any card..." tricks. The playfulness drew people in.
Deena and I then talked our heads off encouraging people to make connections between the physical, cultural and political attributes that are inherent in the foods we eat. Along with 'pink' (roasted beets with goat cheese)
'green' (salad with green goddess dressing) and 'shapes' (skewers of fruit) there were cards that pointed to cooking and eating styles ('raw' jicama slaw, and 'handy' cheddar and chutney sandwiches.) Some cards that set up relationships ie: 'global/local' (imported basmati and lentil Mujaddara served with a hard-boiled urban-farmed Bklyn eggs.) All told there were eleven cards including a wildcat Joker... which lead to discussion about who decides what's to eat; how and where it's grown, what it costs, and who gets to eat it.