Wednesday night came around and I knew it was time to start prepping. I figured I’d start with the most time consuming things, the caramelised onion, the salsa, that sort of stuff. I took Wednesday night at a relaxed pace, sipping red wine, listening to George Harrison’s mullet era records and generally feeling pretty calm about the 24 hours ahead of me. Once they were done, I put my feet up and felt like tomorrow was going to be interesting, slightly challenging but nothing I couldn’t handle. After all, it’s just cooking and copping, two things I love doing anyways…
Thursday morning rolls around and I walk myself through what needs doing, mostly the ingredients that still need cooking but nothing too time consuming. I pop on a bit of Dylan’s ‘New Morning’ and crack on. I’m in my element, I’ve got more pep in my step as I know there’s a lot ahead of me but generally feeling good. Before I know it… it’s fucking mid day and it hits me…this is going to go down to the buzzer. Dylan’s moods seem to dictate mine, one minuet I’m dancing around my new kitchen to ‘The Man in Me’ and I feel fine, the next I’m plummeted into dread and the sense of being overwhelmed with ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right’, soundtracking my anxiety in all it’s moody glory.
It’s 3:30 when my new flat mate, long time friend, Harry arrives back from his freelance work. My knight in shinning armour has arrived, he’s always enjoyed cooking with me and when he sees what a fluster I’ve gotten myself into, he’ll surly help out and speed us up the finishing line. Thankfully he does, I get him prepping the fruits and veg that just need chopping. Ten minutes in he cuts himself….nightmare. We’re plaster-less and Harry’s out for the count, my lead is slipping away. At this point the music’s off and my game face is securely on. Harry plots our journey based off our ETA and it’s not good, I have 45 minuets to finish everything, it’s a mad dash to get it all contained and ready. The minuets fly by and without realising it we’re late, we’ve missed our departure time, merde. Harry orders an Uber; which I haven’t repaid him for and we head to Walthamstow Central. As we pull away from the house and I do my mental check list I realise I’ve forgotten my Wilma jumpsuit and ask the driver to pull over as though I’m going to be sick, I rush out and head back to grab it. I reenter the Uber and we’re off. Time seems to have sped up whilst the cars have ground to a halt, it’s a painful journey but we eventually make it and we’re onto the tube.
The adrenaline has faded and the rush has disappeared and all of a sudden it hits me, I’m fucking exhausted. I had been relentlessly cooking, chopping and flustering my way through the day that i’d forgotten the second half of the act is all about talking and having conversations that I wasn’t sure I could muster. Harry and I sat in silence as we went from station to station, each time getting closer to the realisation that I had written a check neither my body or mind could write.
My brain was dead, my legs were worn out and I had no mental sharpness left in the tank, exciting time to centre a work solely around conversation then… Once I’d finished setting up I was off the to the races. People started to come over, enquire and open up the take-away containers. Amy Robson immediately acted out an idea I thought would be interesting but wasn’t sure if it could be pulled off organically. She made a share plate of smoked salmon, pickled cucumber and gherkins and began to hand them out to people in the room which I was glad to see.
The night fell into a blur from there on in, it was only from looking at Harry’s photographs a couple of days later that I was able to truly remember all the conversations I’d had and what they had centred around. I had spoken with a Russian artists who had collaborated with a Portuguese artist who used their nations approach to stew to bring people together. Coincidentally, I also spoke with a British women who had made made Russian stew for the first time the previous night. I was also complimented by a lovely Columbian artist Marie-Anne who said that my salsa was very good, which I’ll gladly take. She and I had a very interesting conversation about food memory and how it’s perhaps it’s more evident within cultures that have a tradition of food culture that is more engrained within their society as a whole and perhaps she is right.
Overall it was the right experiment at the right time but sadly it didn’t do as I’d hoped. I need to focus the circumstances in which a conversation can occur, this acted more as a buffet with a chatty host rather than a constructed, thoughtful situation that conversation can occur. I’m going to continue developing this theme of conversation but for now I’m putting the knives and pan’s down.