Guest post by Emilie Baltz, founder of Baltz Works. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Food+Tech Connect.
“Show me what you eat and I will show you who you are,” this line by Brillat Savarin, the great french gastronome, is the motto of culinary creatives, educated consumers and adamant locavores around the world. In a single phrase, Savarin seamlessly defines the relationship between food and identity; yet, as we enter an age of greater access, and as information and technology become ever more ubiquitous parts of our daily lives, I wonder if this phrase needs a revamp? Savarin’s definition is linear, a simple translation of identity from material to man, which is perhaps better represented in contemporary times as:
“Show me HOW you eat and I will show you who you are.”
We are at a moment in time when experience is king and information rampant. If we can use technology to better illustrate the relationship between behavior and consequence, experiences will become ripe spaces for the cultivation of self, moving beyond representation and into understanding, revealing that the HOW is more important than the WHAT.
As an act, dining is a robust, complex and (hopefully) delightful process filled with multisensory touchpoints that, together, orchestrate the symphony of eating. Every bite, and every dining room, is host to information in the form of sound, smells, texture, sight and taste that communicate with our brain. These messages, in turn, affect our perception of the experience at hand, shaping our world as we know it. This intersection in the dining experience provides ample space for technology. Defined as “neurogastronomy”, this space reveals the power of the sensory information inherent in every morsel of a meal and forges a new relationship between (wo)man, material and eating.
Imagine a dining experience in which the ingredients went beyond the traditional, where the taste of a carrot could be changed by a sound from your childhood or the temperature of a glass optimized perfectly for your personal wine tasting profile? Dining has the potential to become an even greater vehicle for performance, both as an act and entertainment, in which we learn not merely about our relationship to the world, but also our relationship to ourselves.
Hacking Dining is an online conversation exploring how we might use technology and design to hack a better future for dining. Join the conversation between June 2 – July 30, and share your ideas in the comments, on Twitter using #hackdining, Facebook, LinkedIn or Tumblr.
A non-traditional creative, Baltz works at the intersection of design, performance, strategy and the visual arts, her process mirroring that of a chef in the kitchen, mixing ingredients of expression by blending photography, product, environment and intention with the human senses to provoke new points of entry into the individual and collective experience.
As a personal passion, she uses the eating experience as both lens and machine for cultural reflection and creation. In this sector, Emilie works to reframe, requestion and remind us of the fundamental place food occupies in our life as a portal into both the primitive and the civilized.