Propelled by the the Atlantic winds and the Catholic cross, the Portuguese encountered in Brazil a communal society with little, if any, agriculture or livestock. Nonetheless, the abundance of the coast and jungle supplied the locals with a wide variety of game, fish, fresh fruits, roots and herbs.
During the following centuries, the quest for Eldorado violently pushed men inlands. The successive economical cycles of precious metals, sugar cane, coffee and rubber industries promoted the development of cities and commerce. Roads were scarce, if even existent. Transportation of goods across the vast backlands was only made possible with troops of mules, led by the tropeiros – the pioneers of Brazil.
It was the preservation of food against the relentless tropical climate that became imperative to the success of the long extenuating journeys. While Brazilian food is often represented by its ‘tropic-exotic’ appeal, it is perhaps this culture of preservation that is its most pronounced, intrinsic quality.
In the beginning of 2014 we set out on a research project to explore a strip of land on the north-eastern coast of Brazil, stretching for 60 Km from the town of Santa Cruz de Cabrália to the municipality of Belmonte, in the state of Bahia.
This part of Brazil represents a very particular cultural intersection in the world. It is the place where the Portuguese ships first shored in Brazil, bringing along the ambitions of the colonial project. With the european system of global expansion came the culture, tastes and religions of the west-african slaves, who enabled the development of the new world. The combination of European Catholicism, African Voodoo and South American Shamanism was one of the first ingredients in the historic triangle of Brazilian cuisine.
In many ways, today, this area of Bahia is still unchanged. For the most part, there is no electricity, no refrigeration and a restricted availability of supplies: only what is preserved, or what is immediately seasonal and fresh is available. The economy of preservation is indispensable in this region, and it is precisely this dichotomy between fresh and preserved goods that have been shaping the food culture in Bahia since the arrival of the Portuguese. On the other hand, the missions towards the inlands forged a food culture of hunger, based on the scarcity of ingredients and the necessity of survival in that hostile, unpopulated environment.
Guaiamum, is a freshwater crab that lives in the mud of the mangroves. Although these crabs are abundant, they shouldn't be caught during the mating season, which begins as the Maricá plant starts to bud, in the late spring until mid summer.
Seafood has a very limited shelf-life and in most cultures fresh crabs would not be a preservable product, specially because its digestive tract contains large colonies of mangrove bacteria that would soon spoil the meat. On the other hand, Guaiamum can neither be eaten right after its been caught, due to the high toxicity of the bacteria colonies.
The trick is keeping the Guaiamum alive, replacing the mangrove diet with a flavorful selection of ingredients like dendê (the fruit of a wild palm), corn and fresh coconut. In addition, sour fruits like lime and biribiri (a star-fruit relative fruit of indonesian origin) are used to 'sanitize' the crab. This process not only allows for the entire crab to be eaten, including the innards, but also radically changes the approach to the idea of a recipe, which in this case starts at least two weeks prior to eating.
Mandioca, the manioc potato, is probably the most widespread starch across Brazil. It is believed to have its origins in the south-eastern Amazonian region, and before the Europeans arrived in America, it was already widespread through South and Central America.The indigenous peoples had it as a sacred root, being the basis of their diet and the main ingredient of Cauim, an alcoholic beverage obtained through the fermentation of manioc. The women of the tribe would chew the manioc and spit it in a vessel, where the starch would ferment and produce alcohol.
This is achieved through a combination of different techniques, resulting in a preserved range of products with extended shelf life while maintaining true nutritional value. The process is fairly straight-forward: cassava is ground and washed, which already separates the fibre from the starch. The fibre is then strained out, dried and toasted, creating what’s known as farinha de mandioca (manioc flour). The remaining water from the washing is then dried, producing polvilho a preserved cassava starch, known widely as tapioca.
The most exquisite flour made from tapioca is called polvilho azedo, which is 'sour tapioca-starch' flour. It consists of the fermentation of the manioc starch in water for around 10 days. After fermentation, the tapioca starch acquires an extremely pungent and exoctic rotten taste and smell, an underrated quality in Brazilian food. Fermentation also changes the chemical properties of the polvilho, yielding a product that will 'gummyfy" at lower temperatures. When moistened tapioca flour is exposed to heat, it will bind like a pancake. This 'gummy' property of manioc is really appreciated in Brazilian food, texturizing soups, cakes, biscuits and flat pancakes, like the biju.
The most extreme product of this preservation economy is undoubtedly the sight of raw beef hanging outdoors under tropical sun, what is known throughout Brazil as Carne do Sol, literally meaning “meat of the sun”. Drying meat with with the aid of salt and a wind is a process developed in the north of Brazil during colonial times, circa 1600s. This technique was adapted from the traditional Portuguese salting and drying fish such as Bacalhau. Carne do Sol epitomizes the culture of preservation in Brazil like no other food product. Closely connected to the waves of territorial expansion, it is still today consumed across the entire country, even in the urban environment well supplied with enough refrigeration. Meat when preserved this way will last longer than fresh meat if kept in the fridge.
Parallel to the official culture of hotel and restaurant food, this food of 'necessity', shaped by scarcity, still subsists today. Beyond the romantic delight with tradition constantly flooding television cooking shows, it remains scathely standing, as an eye witness of the 'civilizatory' process of supermarkets and fast food chains.
A food of hunger, to paraphrase Glauber Rocha, acts as a negating force to the present, pointing towards a different possibility to mass food production. As Euclides da Cunha1 would put it, We are condemned to civilization.
In 2014 food is no longer expected to fascilitate the neccesity of survival, but instead aims to fulfill any number of human expectations – our immidiate impulses, our emotional desires, our personal fetishes and our hopeful antidotes to stressfull, unhealthy lifestyles. It is not surprising that products such as Soylent – a proposed ‘total food replacement powder’ – has become so popular amogst those who wish to cut the complexity of contemporary food out of their lives. By reducing all food-related decision making to an absolute function, we simplify our lives through a product of pure utility – a function to follow our form. Join us at the Pure Functions drink bar at the Mediamatic Pret Park Between 12-13 July to sample 3 utilitarian beverages to enhance, relax or stregnthen your life. Join our presentation on food beyond neccesity on Sunday at 13:00 and try one of our fully functional beverages: 😜 BOOSTER - a seratonin-boosting all-body energizer. 😴 SNOOZER - a relaxing blend of psychoactive herbs and nootropic smart drugs for total mental burnout. 💪 BUILDER - a muscle-bulging powerhouse blend to expand your body instead of your mind. (all participants must be 18 years or older)
Stone Soup is a food event designed for the closing night of the Mediamatic Ruilen (Swapping) show, held during December in Amsterdam. In collaboration with Anja Groten & Florian Pfeffer who arranged the SwapupShop at Otis in Los Angeles, we wanted to create an internal food-swapping economy. The dinner was designed around the old folk tale of stone soup
Two traveling men, were carrying nothing more than an empty cooking pot. They walked to a village. Upon their arrival, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with the hungry travellers. Then the travellers go to a stream and fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire. One of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing. The travellers answer that they are making “stone soup”, which tastes wonderful, although it still needs a little bit of garnish to improve the flavour, which they are missing. The villager does not mind parting with a few carrots to help them out, so that gets added to the soup. Another villager walks by, inquiring about the pot, and the travellers again mention their stone soup which has not reached its full potential yet. The villager hands them a little bit of seasoning to help them out. More and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. Finally, a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is enjoyed by all.
Participants could join the stone soup by checking-in ingredients at a central food bank, where their contribution was documented and catalogued using a color-coded card. Ingredients were cleaned and prepped for a giant Chinese Hot Pot. Once all the contributions were recorded the values of each portion of ingredients was compared using labor (time) as a measure of worth. Eg: 1 Serving of Chinese Cabbage = 3 Minutes sweeping the streets of London or 15 Seconds as a Mercenary in Iraq. We created an internal stock exchange for trading ingredients based on colored stones. Most participants started the dinner with only one type of stone.Diners could trade stones in three ways. Firstly by engaging in a legitimate gaming economy based on the traditional African stone game, Mancala. Stones could also be traded illegally on an informal black market where the rules were determined by the traders. Finally swappers could also change their luck through chance, by playing the stone lottery where there was always the chance of picking up #0000e6 stones, which have no value. After acquiring a mix of stones to each’s taste by swapping and playing with other participants, the stones could be exchanged at the food bank for ingredients. The input and output of each diner was measured using the card system.
This dinner was designed in response to the idea of crisis, as economic collapse in europe once again occupies our thoughts. The Banquet plays with uncertainty and the need for people to help each other understand &; enjoy the food. Everything is presented without explanation, and left up to the audience to figure out. Through the shared social experience of uncertainty, diners develop a common food economy based on giving rather than taking. The evening stared with an appetizer containing Miracle Fruit, an African berry that changes the shape of tastebuds, turning all sour tastes into sweet). This was followed by a salad of pure lemon and lime wedges which tasted like candy. Unlabeled bottles of water and vodka were dispersed, where the audience had to trust their noses in order to sniff out the drink of choice. For the main course we created 60 x 1-meter long forks. A gigantic space blanket was used to cover the tables &; keep the food warm. The main course was a selection of whole-roasted root vegetables served with piles of salt for dipping. Photographs by Paul Ward.
Austerity is the way my life and yours will be described; as in having lived through the “Age of Austerity". As prophesied by David Cameron, in his keynote speech to the Conservative Party Forum on April 26, 2009, where he commits himself to put an end to the “age of irresponsibility". The Age of Austerity will brand our lives not necessarily because we have lost our jobs, taken part in mass protests or gotten our pensions slashed, but simply because it has defined the imagery and the events of the years shortly following 2009 in the same way the great depression defined the 1930s, May 68 the 1960s and 9/11 the 2000s. Austerity has created a world in its own image. To paraphrase Marinetti, Austerity is beautiful because it establishes man’s dominion over the subjugated machinery by the means of gas masks, terrifying megaphones and small tanks. Austerity is beautiful because it enriches a public square with the fiery orchids of molotov cocktails. Austerity is beautiful because it combines the gunfire, the tear gas, the fire bombs, the scents, and the stench of putrefaction into a symphony. But that spectacle is for naive romantics. Austerity is beautiful because it raises taxes, slashes jobs and cuts social spending to the delight of major financial institutions, stripping naked the role of the modern state. Austerity is beautiful because it shreds apart the political melancholia of stable times, it forces resignation, it wins elections, it brings to daylight the hidden agendas and the underground nazis. Austerity is beautiful because it trashes the official corporate aesthetics and recreates the aesthetics of necessity into handwritten slogans on scrap cardboard, human megaphones, cellphone cameras and internet memes. Austerity is beautiful because it engages the whole world in one single struggle, liking, retweeting and commenting, all in real time, effortlessly. If austerity were a country, it would probably be Greece. Once the birthplace of western civilisation, it has become, in austerity, the icon of its demise. But it hasn’t always been like that. We owe the Greek the very origins of the word austerity. It meant bitterness, it defined the harsh, rigorous discipline of Spartan soldiers, a life deprived of any luxury. Spartans were raised to battle and survive in the harshest of circumstances. Austerity was, in its infancy, a strive for objectivity and simplicity. Throughout time its meaning has constantly evolved to finally acquire the specific economic designation it holds today. In modern capitalism, it has followed the movement of boom and crisis, preceding or succeeding moments of overt military conflicts. brief Retrosterity
The austerity of the 1920s was embodied by the machine aesthetics of the Bauhaus; pure geometric forms of industrially mass-produced objects for everyday use. Austerity meant objectiveness, lack of ornament, economy of resources, a desire for the essential, expressed in Mies van der Rohe’s aphorism Less is More and Adolph Loos’ essay Ornament and Crime. Still today, critics from the left and from the right describe modern architecture as “dogmatic and austere". The 1930s were underlined by the deep recession that followed the collapse of markets in 1929. Unemployment skyrocketed both in Europe and in the USA. Austerity took the shape of bread lines for the unemployed and human placards looking for work. State fiscal policies were implemented worldwide. In Germany government spending cuts gradually built sharp class struggles. In 1933 the Bauhaus austerity was replaced by the Nazi military–propaganda machine, with cultural representations in architecture, urbanism, cinema and fine arts. The Austerity of 40s was defined by the war efforts. In the battlefields it was embodied by the machinery, the jets, the tanks, the engines, the arms, the ammunition, the chemical gases, the camps, the human laceration. Back home it was all about make do and mend rather than buy new, giving origin to a whole culture of home economy, austerity meant to save. War propaganda posters incited people to “be imaginative with potatoes". Throughout the 60s and 70s austerity wore different masks, especially gas masks, as political demonstrations exploded around the world; May ‘68 in France and the movement against the war in Vietnam. The military police–political apparatus became the highest priority of any ‘progressive’ state. In the 1980s austerity begun to acquire more or less the economic designation it holds today, expressed through the golden mane of Margaret Thatcher in Britain. As Mark Fisher points out in Capitalist Realism “The 80s were the period when capitalist realism was fought for and established, when Margaret Thatcher’s doctrine that ‘there is no alternative’ – as succinct a slogan of capitalist realism as you could hope for – became a brutally self-fulfilling prophecy". Thatcher developed a program of low inflation and reduced the size of state through tight control of money supply and strict regulations of workers unions. After the credit party of the 90’s the dawn of the new millennium saw austerity dress up as counter–terrorism. It took the form of permanent vigilance and contol. We all became part of a networked attack on democratic rights. Ostensive surveillance demystified whatever dreams we had left about science-fiction, George Orwell's 1984 never seemed so outdated. Finally, at the end of 2008, the preceding period of apparent prosperity came to a halt. Something went wrong in the normal reproduction cycle of capital. Credit-crunches, housing bubbles and national economies’ insolvencies opened the way to miraculous economic reforms. Politicians from neoliberals to neoconservatives adopted one single mantra: austerity. Cutting on state employees, cutting on healthcare, cutting on education, cutting on culture, cutting at will. The debate did not become about whether or not to cut, but how deep. It became necessary to “destroy the people in order to save the state". Austerity actually gained the status of word-of-the-year in 2010. “Austerity saw more than 250,000 searches on the free online tool and came with more coverage of the debt crisis", says John Morse, president and publisher of Merriam Webster online dictionary.
It became a trend, a fashion, a meme. Every state leader felt challenged to demonstrate how far his love affair with austerity could go. Some actually feared the people, as an unfaithful husband fears his wife. The people, in their turn, did what they were expected to do, gathering up, taking over the streets and eventually torching cars and buildings. The situation is said to be under control. In austerity the words ‘Politics’ and ‘Police’ are long divorced from its greek root Polis. The outcome of this process has hardly been any different to what anyone could expect. Apart from swiftly bringing down the expenses to GDP ratio, ‘austerity measures’ have not offered any perspective of economical recovery. The way through which unemployment, frozen salaries, inflation and less benefits could possibly ever bring prosperity to the mass of the people is still unexplained, though the imagery of austerity speaks for itself. Modern austerity seems to encompass all its previous forms of existence in one great remix. Under the banner of state efficiency it provides the modern objectiveness of the 20s, the economic depression of the 30s, the militarism of the 40s, the police apparatus of the 60s, the Thatcherism of the 80s, the ostensive surveillance of the 2000s and a special destructive touch of our own epoch. If a sensationalist example is needed here, one could mention the episode of April 5th 2012, when a 77 year old man committed suicide in front of the Greek parliament, explaining in a letter that he preferred to take his life with dignity rather than end up scavenging through garbage looking for food. He urged young people to rise up against the government, which he compared to the puppet regime under Nazi occupation during World War II. What had taken place was not a suicide, but a “murder perpetrated by the state". Along the monstrous bailout packages, Austerity Europe is going through the same agenda the IMF had kindly applied to regions like South America in the past. In this process, Austerity Europe starts to acquire a specific geography, an archipelago of wealthy aisles surrounded by not so wealthy lands. According to the EU figures available for 2009 (which are already grossly outdated), over 20 percent of the population in the western European countries of Spain and Greece are living in poverty. It is already possible to think of a third world Austerity Europe, defined by these regions that will supply cheap labour, low–tech manufacturing and attractive taxes to the rest of the continent. Their supreme export product is already in the market: people. Yet, there is another side to austerity. It produces, in sharp contrast to itself, its opposite: luxury, under the mask of prosperity. Who would ever suspect that the German banks, supplying cheap money to broken Greece, could actually be doing good business? In fact, the trick is simple, the big loans to Athens will be used to repay Greek debts to the German banks. As southern Europe slumps, sales of luxury goods skyrocket elsewhere. The market for super cars, boats, helicopters, diamonds and high fashion have never been so hot, signalling that there is a flip side to mass depression: mass wealth concentration. But this is not a new phenomena, these two trends, namely austerity and luxury, have always progressed together, as two sides of the process of capitalist accumulation. Nowhere is this twofold phenomenon more visible than in the material production of the urban space.
Europe grows at an incredible pace. It is a settlement made up of shacks as the only shelter for housing, commercial and religious purposes. As expected, Europe has no access to safe water, sanitation or any other infrastructure. Packed densely, its population is characterized by low income (if any) and high unemployment rate. This social framework is often associated with crime, drug addiction, alcoholism, high occurrence of mental illnesses and suicide, followed by insurmountable cases of diseases due to unsanitary conditions, malnutrition, and lack of basic health care. Most of its dwellers are employed in the informal economy, which can include street vending, drug dealing and domestic work. Europe is located in Gugulethu township, along the N2 road, bordering Barcelona and Kiyalitsha in Cape Town. In the third world austerity is but the permanent condition of total scarcity. It defines a territory where invention is a necessary survival skill. Researching the world’s fastest growing urban phenomena such as Gugulethu, Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas looks at another African city: Lagos, in Nigeria. Koolhaas sees in Lagos complete chaos and lack of planning a “paradigmatic case-study of a city at the forefront of globalizing modernity". He suggests that Lagos is what all the world’s great cities will be like. “Lagos is not catching up with us. Rather, we may be catching up with Lagos" (Koolhaas, 2001). In this dark presage of the future of the cities lies one side of the austerity/luxury binomial.
Looking at the specular trend of Lagos’s urbanization, Koolhaas researches shopping as another urban phenomena, compiled in the book Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping. The introduction states, “Shopping is arguably the last remaining form of public activity. Through a battery of increasingly predatory forms, shopping has infiltrated, colonized and even replaced, almost every aspect of urban life. Town centres, suburbs, streets, and now airports, train stations, museums, hospitals, schools, the internet, and the military are shaped by the mechanisms and spaces of shopping. The voracity by which shopping pursues the public has, in effect, made it one of the principal – If only – modes by which we experience the city". Or, as Frederik Jameson puts it in Future City: “In the end, there will be little else for us to do but shop".
Speculating over these two inexorable trends of the future of the cities, Favela and Shopping, we come back to picture a Post–Austerity European dystopia, in which the suppression of the state, through massive privatisation, inevitably opens way to the absolute rule of ‘market–driven’ decisions. Private interest finally gains full, unrestricted access to strategic areas traditionally controlled and regulated by the state, such as urban planning, education and culture (In fact, far from a dystopian scenario, one could perceive it as an active ongoing process). The consequences of these trends to the consolidated European urban landscape are rather unpredictable. Jean Luc Godard’s last movie, Film Socialism (2010), takes place in the Mediterranean cruise boat that, two years later, sunk off the coast of Italy. The boat renders an image of a drifting continent. In a line that sounds like the director’s own desire, one of his characters says: “Me, I don’t want to die before I have seen Europe happy again". It is left to us to decide what happiness we will fight for, that of the past, of the welfare within this system or another, yet to be invented. It is in this sense that Zizek criticises the limits of today’s left, arguing that “there is no positive programmatic content to its demands, just a generalised refusal to compromise the existing welfare state. The utopia here is not a radical change of the system, but the idea that one can maintain a welfare state within the system. Here, again, one should not miss the grain of truth in the countervailing argument: if we remain within the confines of the global capitalist system, then measures to wring further sums from workers, students and pensioners are, effectively, necessary" . Unable to imagine an alternative outside of the capitalist boundaries, we will forever find ourselves much like Sysiphus, who was condemned by the gods to ceaselessly roll a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. This is the precise depiction of the Hegelian nightmare, the “bad infinity" (Schlecht Unendlichkeit). A condition in which “there is no Aufhebung, no resolution proper, the thing just drags on…we never reach the Law, the Emperor’s letter never reaches its destination, the wound never closes or kills me" (Slavoj Zizek, The Paralax View). Without being dialectically superseded, the immanent contradictions of capitalism are eternally replaced, assuming forms ever more violent and repressive. Austerity, which first appeared to us as a specific designation of an economic policy, is in fact the visible form of these immanent contradictions, residing particularly in the eternal conflict between Capital and Labour. Austerity, in its various forms, from efficiency to war, materialises capital’s desperate struggle against its own destructive tendencies. Austerity is in fact the very condition for capitalism, rather than an abnormal state of emergency. If the question “What is to be done?" is still irresistible, perhaps we should ask instead if there is anything to be done at all. The only thing left to be ‘saved’ is the carcass of the same techno-nazi-cratic European project that brought us here in the first place. We shall not fear austerity, rather embrace it. Austerity might finally offer a way out, towards a new, audacious, inventive project. In austerity we will find resignation. In austerity we will finally encounter each other. In austerity we will all meet in the third world.
De Punt is a cultural project space initiated in the east of Amsterdam by graduates of the Sandberg Instituut. As part of the Collections exhibition, SulSolSal arranged an experimental food market orchestrated only by designers. The only regulation was that no stand could charge money directly for a meal, but instead the designers could charge money for a short workshop, or to play game, and in exchange for the price of these activities, participants would receive a meal while engaging with a question or situation posed by the designers. On the menu was fainting goat barbecue, Thai Easter Egg hunt, a Chinese dumpling workshop, one stone one soup, full experience smoothies and a UFO stuffed cabbage harvest. The experimental market served as a trial run of a longer, sustainable market with food and knowledge-exchange activities created around designers' questions of food, society and our interaction within these.
The End Times is an economic report on cultural production in the Southern hemisphere. The newspaper investigates the relationship between the economies of cultures vs the cultures of economy – how societies that rely on informality and uncertainty find solutions & alternatives to austerity through the wealth of gestures. The first issue is based on research conducted in South Africa in 2012. The findings are presented in light of the proceeding austerity packages being implemented throughout Europe. By looking at design, economic and social solutions in South Africa, The End Times presents alternatives to the dread and zero-sum game of European austerity. The project was exhibited at the former Eye Museum in the Vondelpark, Amsterdam, Toffie Pop Culture Festival in Cape Town & the St. Etienne biennale in France.
“João Elias Saada was born in Bait Minder, Lebanon, on December 17th, 1869. He was married to d.Catharina Sabino Saada, together they had 12 sons. After having immigrated to North America, for different reasons Saada shored up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he stayed until the end of 1890. Finally, in 1920, he moved to São Paulo, where he has passed away on 8th of May of 1954.
A man of great commercial activity, he had begun as a merchant. only later on he would establish factories of shoes and tannery, in which field he has greatly contributed for the progress of leather garments manufacturing in the country. Always modest and simple, beyond his generous contributions in favor of the less favoured, tells us the press, on the occasion of his death, before passing away, he has rewarded his employees, dividing with them all his assets, uniting them in a society and handing his industries, a noble gesture, relevant and of great detachment.”
With these words, in 1964 the Municipal Chamber of São Paulo filed a process changing the name of the private street between rua costa carvalho and rua ferreira de araújo to João Elias Saada. Years later, in 2014 SAADA became the name of an underground anarco-brewery on the same little street, in São Paulo, Brazil. SAADA’s latest brew combines the energetic power of Guaraná powder to a Brown Ale profiled Beer. This explosive mix can keep an average sized person drinking all night long without ever feeling drunk or tired, not to mention the aphrodisiac properties of this powerful drink.