An Experimental Cookbook
EAT M.E. is an experimental cookbook published for online access in February 2017 as part of a larger project that explores the delicious potential of microbes as food ingredients. It combines the material practice of food-making with the philosophical rigor of scholarly research, contributing to the increasingly interdisciplinary work of communication studies, cultural studies, and critical food studies.
The purpose of this publication was to challenge the dominant idea that humans commandeer microbes into service to ferment foods. Traditionally, humans have used microbes almost exclusively as tools for culinary transformation, such as in the conversion of sugars to alcohol or alcohol to vinegar. The possibility of microbes as ingredient remains novel, underexplored, or categorically dismissed as disgusting. Rather than incite shock or mobilize disgust, the premise of this project is a neutral approach to considering microbes as a legitimate foodstuff.
The nature of exploring the delicious potential of non-food-objects tugs at the ethical fabric of why we cook which ingredients for whom. My aim is to challenge that which we consider to be edible/inedible and, ultimately, complexify the notion of eating other entities traditionally excluded from the food debate.
Over 20 recipes were tested to propose microbes as legitimate food ingredients. This cookbook questions the assumption that places humans at the center of society and proposes alternate ways of engaging with species that affect our personal and environmental wellbeing.
More than ever, a more nuanced rendering of how we relate to microbes is necessary. Recent outbreaks of foodborne illness, drug-resistant superbugs, and contaminated waterways strain the human-microbe relationship in unprecedented ways. Technological solutions to these crises are only temporary because microbes perpetually adapt, mutate, and persist. Given the pervasiveness of microbial life (as they are omnipresent in, on, and around us), existing research tends to paint a dystopian future. This publication envisions a more positive iteration of human-microbe engagement in the form of an experimental cookbook.
EAT M.E. Copyright © 2017 by Maya Hey. All Rights Reserved.