It's Finally Here--the Dharma DaDa Erni Bär [Vegetarian] Mail Art Cookbook Series

A couple of months ago, Dharma DaDa sent me an amazing package of foodstuffs with a special "task." The instructions were: "Prepare a meal using the [food enclosed] and do a little documentation for IUOMA to show those guys what real EAT ART is... Good Luck!"

Here's a clip from that original blog post:

An AMAZING PACKAGE that arrived from Dharma dada Erni Bär... Whoa.  If mail art provides me with sustenance for my aesthetic soul, then Erni's package provides me with sustenance for... well, for my tummy!  Having established our similar dietary predilections, Erni has sent me the art materials and a directive for mixing the aesthetics of mail art and food.  WHAT A PROJECT!  And you can bet that I'll have a blast documenting this art undertaking, Erni!

I can tell you right now that a proper work of [food] art is something that should be shared and experienced in good company.  Therefore, I will plan this art project as a dinner party among friends who can participate in its creation and appreciate its fruits (so to speak).  I already have some people in mind, but must wait for one of them to return from a trip at the Karmê Chöling Meditation Retreat Center near Barnet, Vermont.   One of my favorite blessings is to say that, "We eat together in company so that we might hear in the breaking of bread the song of the universe."  Hopefully, we will hear the timbre of mail art, too, Erni!  Danke!

Well, I'm here to tell you that I finally had enough time to call some friends and plan a Friday evening meal together.  Good thing that many of the items that Erni sent have a good long shelf life! I can't quite remember how Erni discovered that I was a vegetarian--I think I sent him some Trashpo Mail Art on the back of some vegetarian food packaging, and that got the ball rolling.  What Erni might not have known is that in one of my past career lifetimes I was a caterer and cook!  And being a vegatarian, one often has to be super creative to find alternatives to the pervasive and homogenized diet of the American Carnivore.  I think I have a pretty good knack for it....

As you might be able to see above, Erni sent several spreads and flavor bases in his package. The challenge came in deciding how to turn those into a full meal.  It would be a lot of flavors to try to meld all together; so I have decided to make several recipes and dinners out of one or two of the items at a time.  By the time we've gotten through several meals, there should be a small cookbook (maybe pamphlet) -worth of recipes.  A good cook knows how to stretch a meal--and BY GUM!--we're gonna make this one stretch over several of them!

This first recipe... are you ready for it???... shall be:

SAVORY BREAD PUDDING WITH GRILLED ASPARAGUS COMPLIMENTED WITH A SAUCE MOUSELEINE

MacPhearson's Fruit and Vegetable stand is about a mile south of me on Beacon Hill in Seattle.  They have the best fruit and vegetable deals in town because they acquire produce directly from local farmers (mostly from the Wenatchee and Yakima Valleys). They also sell surplus from local bakeries and other food sellers.  The other day I bought a Challa loaf of bread for a bargain.  

Challa bread makes for the BEST bread pudding, and I decided the bread would be perfect to use for this first meal. I was going to make this the centerpiece of a main course, though.  So our custard wouldn't have any sugar in it; instead it will have more savory ingredients! Intrigued??

COOKBOOKS??!!  We don't need no stinkin' cookbooks!!

First step, cutting the loaf into cubes and letting them sit out--YES, sit out--the pudding will be better if you let the bread dry-out for a day. (That's why bread pudding dessert is usually made with left-over day-old bread! Why? Because it will soak up the custard base better.)

I had a choice to make between Erni's food gifts.  Several of his items were meant to be "spreads."  But they all were predominant, primary-flavor spreads.  In other words, each was made from a specific vegetable: tomato; green peppercorn; basil; and olive.  I was torn between making our savory bread pudding either tomato, or trying something potentially more distinctive-flavored like the green peppercorn.  I decided on the tomato, so I could include other ingredients and still "marry" things easily.

So, the ingredients are gathered and prepared...

We'll prepare a custard for the bread to soak in... (While I am a vegetarian, I am NOT a vegan, and neither is this recipe--it will include eggs and some dairy products, altough I minimized the dairy by using almond milk.)

A little black pepper...

A little salt (from the Himalayas!!)...

A little thyme...

A little marjoram...

The secret ingredient--ala Dharma Dada--just about a good heaping tablespoon (or two).  Tomato paste would be a completely acceptable replacement...

The second secret ingredient--only about a teaspoon or a short tablespoon, 'cause this stuff'll put out some heat!...

So that mixed together, the custard looks comething like...

I also sautéed some onions, garlic, and mushrooms...

Then all the ingredients are mixed together: the bread, the custard, and the mushroom sauté mixture. Fold it together well, then put in a container or covered ceramic dish. This mixture should sit in the refrigerator overnight or for a day. Yes, REALLY! So that the bread can absorb the custard, and the flavors can mingle...

When you're ready to bake it, pour it into a prepared, greased baking dish... sprinkle with a little bit of parmesan... 

cover...

and bake @ 350 degrees (Farenheit) for an hour or so...

take the cover off and bake an additional 15-25 minutes so you'll get a little bit of crispy crusting on top...

We had this dinner at the home of my friends, Heather and Michelle.  I got them to assist me with some of the final preparations for this meal...

We were going to make a special sauce for the pudding--a type of butter sauce that is a cross between a hollandaise sauce and a beurre blanc.  It's proper name is Sauce Mousseleine.  It requires whipping cream... Heather originally wanted to do things old-school and thought she might whip it with a fork. Fortunately, we convinced her that the electric beater would save her arm from falling off...

The other part of the sauce is made in a double boiler on the stove...

The gals also made a lovely salad to go with dinner...

The pudding and the grilled asparagus are kept warm in the oven...

Here's what the finished pudding looks like...

Sorry, Sally, this is people food!...

Cutting into it and getting ready for presentation assembly...

First some sauce on the platter...

Then some pudding...

Then the grilled asparagus...

Et voila!... Our meal presented as a PIECE OF ART!  DID YOU EVER THINK MAIL ART COULD TASTE SO GOOD?????

The table is set...

Dig in!!

CHEERS TO DHARMA DADA!!  FEED ART TO THE WORLD!!!!

...and by the way, IT WAS DELICIOUS!!!!!

Views: 546

Comment

You need to be a member of International Union of Mail-Artists to add comments!

Join International Union of Mail-Artists

Comment by Thom Courcelle on April 3, 2012 at 5:26am

This discussion has been scintillating, indeed!  And we are lingering over the feast, aren't we?  But that is how a great meal with good company should be...with everyone savouring flavors, and enjoying the wine...switching courses throughout the evening, and deciding to break open another bottle to make the evening last longer...

I especially like your comment, DVS, that, "Anyone can do it and you can embellish with imagination."  That is exactly right.  And without trying to stretch the food metaphor too far, it does fit with this experiment in one fantastic way--everyone has to eat [to survive].  Some of us like or dislike brussel sprouts, or asparagus--we all have different tastes.  But ultimately it is sustenance.  And ultimately everyone is a cook, whether we make things from scratch and arrange a fancy plate, or whether we pull the top back on a pudding cup and use our finger as a spoon.  We all eat, and the different foods and styles of cooking (mediums) can all be appreciated by someone (if merely because we empathize that the finger-spooned pudding will sate hunger).

Likewise--I think--with art.  I feel like I can appreciate just about every piece of art that crosses my eye-view because I can empathize with its creation as a soul-satisfying need of expression.  I might personally appreciate one thing or medium over another, but even if I somehow find something distasteful to my palate (just like someone who can't stand brussel sprouts), it has elicited a response from me.  That's what food does, and that's what art does.

There are definitely contingents of folks who would like to impress their opinion on us that "art is not necessary"; that it is not a basic human need in order to survive in the world or in a society.  And they are pretty successful at brainwashing a lot of people to believe them--thus hoards of grade schools and middle schools and high schools cut funding and teaching jobs in the arts under the theory that only "hard" subjects like readin', writin', & 'rithmatic are all anyone should need to fulfull one's lifetime goals.

That's what our job is--to destroy the fallacy that art is not necessary.  That's what this web community is here to challenge--that is the battle and protest that we shout when we place artwork in the mail, I think.  (In part, anyway...)

Here is a story--a story I learned just the other night during my dinner with Heather and Michelle.  We have some common friends in California whom Heather recently went to visit after not seeing them for quite a while.  They have adopted a daughter from a foreign orphanage, and while the little girl is growing and happy, she is having to go through a lot of physical and developmental therapy because for the first couple years of her life she was left in a crib on her back without any human touch or stimulation.  This has "stunted" her depth and motion perception because her nervous system was not sufficiently stimulated enough during her infancy.  This is a sad, true story that I relate to illustrate that despite empiric, scientific evidence that visual and creative stimulation--as well as human interaction--are necessary for human growth and development, society still somehow allows morons to spew the nonsense that creative pursuits and studies in school have no real-world benefit to children, and the ridiculousness that the arts don't increase brain activity and creative thought in those other areas of "hard" study.

So, I agree, DV, it is hard to overcome sometimes what "they" have been engraining in our consciousnesses since birth--the repression that they would like to see institutionalized into "the system."  But we're here to shout back, and tell the truth that we know and understand--that art is necessary... no less so than our daily green vegetable.

Comment by Nancy Bell Scott on April 2, 2012 at 10:23pm

Yes, and the discussion has been very interesting and thought-provoking too ...

Comment by De Villo Sloan on April 2, 2012 at 3:00am

We have certainly lingered over Thom's feast.

 

Erni, I think many of us here do think differently about art. Dada, brilliantly & shockingly, began a dialog about Western art & culture that has stayed with us to this very moment. The idea was suggested then that this culture might not only be flawed but actually dangerous to the survival of humanity & the planet. Accompanying the discussion is the idea that culture might be renewed, reinvented, recreated - perhaps even an imperative activity. But these ideas, ultimately, are far out of the mainstream. I would hazard a general view is that art is (1) difficult & the exclusive domain of certain specialists & classes and (2) art and life have little if no connection to each other. Despite protests to the contrary, I do not think creativity is encouraged in most places at all. I think real creativity & free expression exacts a heavy toll on those who actively support & pursue it. Those are hard things to overcome when they have been engrained in your consciousness since birth & the repression is built into "the system" itself.

 

How did they find the remains of Spoerri's banquet? I think Thom suggested an answer in his interesting art-science comment. Archaeology is a science that uses rational methods to locate the artifacts & traces of lost & obliterated cultures. Based on existing facts, it would be fairly easy for any archaeologist to locate Spoerri's artifacts & unearth them in a way that would provide additional evidence about the events. It is an interesting idea that tools for the study of human culture would be used to unearth what still would be considered contemporary culture.

Comment by Dean aka Artist in Seine on April 1, 2012 at 11:38pm

Wowow, what a story.  So go Veggie.

Comment by De Villo Sloan on April 1, 2012 at 9:26pm

Erni, I learned about Spoerri from you. The archaeology part of that piece is great. I don't want to make this piece you did with Thom seem overly complex either. Part of the greatness of it is that anyone can do it and you can embellish with imagination.

And yes, if groups of us could sit down face to face! Lacking that, it does make the whole mail-art process interactive. No one passive with this one - another classic, I think.

Comment by Thom Courcelle on April 1, 2012 at 7:43pm

Ha, Ha! Spoerri's underground déjeuner IS like a time-space warp--proving our theory exactly!  It also has crossed the threshholds between art and science--two distinctly separate groups observing the phenomenon with completely different eyes and interests!  Whoa!

I also like Alison Knowles's kitchen space--also Fluxushisly crossing the boundaries between field and kitchen! (Is it a kitchen?  Is it a garden?  Is it a kitchen?  Is it a garden?...)  It looks like she is growing the mushrooms right in the kitchen counter...

Comment by Thom Courcelle on April 1, 2012 at 6:38pm

I think Fluxus has so many facets and applications, really...  Is it like people who think we're going to be invaded by aliens--but booga-booga for them because (surprise!) THEY"RE ALREADY HERE!! (Or are they?..Mmmmm..) It's the unknown/unexpected that throws us part way into that universe.  

Here's my second Erni Bär Cookbook Fluxus recipe:

PUMPKIN PIE

Bake pumpkin and scoop out soft flesh.  Mix in a large bowl with almond milk, sugar, nutmeg, mace, cinnamon, allspice, maple syrup, and three eggs until smooth.  

Make a pie shell.  Pour batter into pie shell. Bake in 400 degree (Farenheit) oven for 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 365 degree (Farenheit) and continue to bake for another 45 minutes to one hour (or until a knife inserted into center can be withdrawn clean).

Remove pie from oven and allow to cool for some time. Bring pie, plates, a knife, and a fork to your outside patio table ( or a nice picnic blanket placed on your backyard or nearby park lawn).

Cut the pie into wedges and distribute onto plates. Place the plates around the table or around the picnic blanket. 

Pick up the fork.  Use it to eat a nice lunch of dandelion greens from around the picnic blanket.

Leave the pie behind.

Comment by De Villo Sloan on April 1, 2012 at 6:20pm

You reminded me - Alison Knowles and Keith Buchholz did a more recent performance involving cooking mushrooms based on an earlier performance with John Cage. It's on Grigori Antonin's blog for the John Cage show:

http://grigori-nojohnrays.blogspot.com/2012/03/alison-knowles-keith...

 

Comment by De Villo Sloan on April 1, 2012 at 5:21pm

Hi Erni, translating food performance to Mail Eat Art is a stunning innovation. It works here spendidly. Fluxus definitely has a history of eating performance. For one, Alison Knowles in NYC ate lunch at a specific diner on specific days and at a specific time with particular menu items. Those were performances. They're documented somewhere and had a following. Just eating lunch following a loose performance score - translating this further into recipes is an extension. Very provocative in a subtle way - is a recipe actually a performance score? I think you could at least have provided Thom with one of your trademark free drinks:

Comment by Nancy Bell Scott on April 1, 2012 at 5:15pm

Oh Thom, Phil already has to live in a paper/paint/mail/rust etc maelstrom, he won't even bat an eye. Well, he'll have a fit every couple of months. But you could make an extra big mess and actually make *me* look good! Think how we here would benefit--you'd cook for us AND improve Phil's 23-year adjustment. What would be in it for you, I'm not sure. Wine?

Badge

Loading…

Want to support the IUOMA with a financial gift via PayPal?

The money will be used to keep the IUOMA-platform alive. Current donations keep platform online till 1-oct-2020.   If you want to donate to get IUOMA-publications into archives and museums please mention this with your donation. It will then be used to send some hardcopy books into museums and archives. You can order books yourself too at the IUOMA-Bookshop. That will sponsor the IUOMA as well.

Bewaren

Bewaren

Bewaren

Bewaren

Bewaren

Bewaren

Bewaren

Bewaren

Bewaren

© 2019   Created by Ruud Janssen.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service