Matter n. 1. what a thing is made of; constituent material
Food product. Horse material. Meat contamination. Words, like food, have an intimate relationship with the mouth. There are some words which one would rather not associate with a, usually, pleasurable and sustaining experience. Listening to the radio on a drive out from London, I was struck by the artificial nature of the terminology used to describe something essentially natural. Each of the commentators and interviewees rolled these prickly words around their mouths like encased conkers, picking through the left-overs of the Horsemeat scandal which is currently preoccupying the British media. Suddenly, the pairing of words has a distinct and unsavory significance.
DNA tests are being used to find out definitively the biological sources inside the boxes of frozen meals in cryogenic suspension up and down the land. One of the least appetizing statements was, ‘due to modern processing techniques – it would be impossible to tell by taste alone that the meat was not beef.’ Modern processing techniques. Gets the mouth watering, doesn’t it?
Food and its production has been a popular subject for photographers. I love the approach taken by of Bernhard Fuchs and Taj Forer featured in the Feb 2012 posting of the photo-eye blog. Their quiet contemplative approach allows the viewer space to consider food production and consumption in its relationship to nature and the seasons. For a more political, less nostalgic view on the food industry, take a look at this work by another German photographer Michael Lebensmittel. You have to dig deep to get a copy, but it looks like an interesting, if challenging, book.
It’s at times like this when casual banter turns to unusual and exotic snacks enjoyed at the behest of one’s hosts. While on the subject, I couldn’t end this post without a reference back to Mali and the Dogon region in particular. During the festival of Tabaski we were welcomed into the Kodio (Atemelou – from the previous post) family home and treated to fresh goat, the highlight of which was the unfortunate beast’s bollocks. We had no problem tracing from where it had come.
Meanwhile, the horses are whispering: find us… find us…FINDUS.