THE OTHER DINNER

A public event about the past, present and future of meat.
It shows the power of hands-on experience to push boundaries and increase acceptance,
as well as the impact cultural taboos have on innovation. 

In collaboration with: Waag Society Amsterdam, TU/e
Year: 2013


The Other Dinner was an experiment and act of participation and embodiment of all aspects
around the discussion about tissue culture.
— Laura Mudde. participant | professional curator
 

THE OTHER DINNER

The Other Dinner was an experimental public event I organized during my internship at the Open Wetlab (Waag Society Amsterdam) in 2013. The project can be seen as a form of critical design in which aspects of design, biotechnology and culture come together in one artefact to discuss the future of meat and the (negative) impact cultural taboos have on innovation. Within three chapters the past, present and future of our meat culture was questioned, experienced and discussed during a public event. Every chapter pushed the participants further in being more tolerant towards alternative protein consumption and helped them to form a personal opinion based on not only facts - but experience. 

Apart from the question if in vitro meat will become a solution for the global meat problem, I felt we should first look critically to our current eating habits and meat consumption. In other cultures they still use almost all parts of the animal, something our great grandparents also did. When did we become such spoiled ignorant herd animals – influenced by society, media and food manufacturers? 

Part one: a nose-to-tail cooking workshop
Part two: preparing and tasting animals that we don't eat  (mice, muskrat)
Part three: workshop DIY cultured meat making

Aim of the project

The Other Dinner was not merely an attempt to trigger public discussion about the future of our meat. I felt the need to create an opportunity for hands-on exploration. I wanted the audience to experience themselves what it’s like to clean, prepare, cook and eat the entire animal, to eat animals they never ate before and to have the chance to make in vitro meat themselves. The entire event was based on in vitro meat and the domestication of life sciences in society.

The direct confrontation with our meat culture from A to Z and biotechnology influenced their view on meat consumption and global food problems causing interesting interactive discussions between the participants and the invited scientists, artists, cooks and designers.

The interactive highly detailed program and contribution of the Kitchen of the Undesired Animal, scientist Cor van de Weele (WUR), designer Victoria Ledig, artist and philosopher Koert van Mensvoort (Next Nature) and researcher and graduated RCA interaction desiger Louis Buckley made The Other Dinner a real success.

 

THE OTHER - (Preview) cookbook  

Why did I never eat organ meat, or mice, sparrows and insects?

I’ve always been very intrigued by food and its transformation of taste, texture, shape and color  through various cooking techniques, but I never thought about trying unknown techniques or ingredients  myself – assuming they were too difficult to prepare or too expensive to be suitable for amateur cooks…

Everything changed  when I bought the book ‘Odd Bits’ from Jennifer McLagan in the City Lights bookstore in San Fransico last summer (2012 by now).  Her stories about how and why to cook the entire animal, accompanied with beautiful  pictures and recipes, inspired me to just go to the butcher and order a set of pig ears, calf brains and rooster combs and wattles. Because in western culture many people are disgust and afraid of these odd bits, the special order in the butcher shop should be made a week in advance. 

The experience of preparing organ meat, water rabbit and mice, changed my life completely. Not necessarily because I now eat pig heads or organ meat every day, (on the contrary, knowledge about meat regarding health, sustainability and animal welfare, caused me to reduce my meat eating habits drastically) but because it opened a whole new world in which I am confidence to try new foods and explore new cooking techniques!