‘You are what what you eat eats too.’ These words, from food writer Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, inspired an entire culinary movement as people began to think critically about the nature of food and how it’s consumed.
Misha Volf was one of these people. A furniture designer, audio engineer and Parsons School of Design graduate, he decided to explore ‘meat and our relationship to meat as consumers and eaters’. This idea became a pop-up diner called Fodder, which opens a few times a year in New York City.
Having no background in food, however, Misha needed to find a chef with whom to collaborate. After struggling to find someone suitable, Aimee Hunter, who was slightly circumspect in the beginning, finally agreed to come on board.
Basically, the meal offers diners a unique window into the lives of farm animals with dishes based on the ingredients in their feed. And, to bring consumers closer to where the meat comes from, each meal is served in a rustic communal feeding basin, designed specifically for the event, from which guests eat with their hands.
At Fodder’s last pop-up event in Brooklyn, the menu opened with an amuse-bouche dubbed ‘Salt Lick’ – a cube of salt and minerals, with mushroom powder, seaweed and a seed mixture for added flavour.
This led to the first course, ‘Calf’, which represented the beginning of eating in the life cycle of a cow. Ricotta, made from raw colostrum (the milk made by mammals during late pregnancy) and nestled in a bed of edible grass, tasted like a pure encapsulation of springtime.
The second course was named ‘Weaner/Feeder’ and consisted of hay. To create a gourmet dish, Aimee made a tempura of hay, wheatgrass and sprouts that was served on a ‘dirt’ inspired by Massimo Bottura’s famous camouflage dessert.
Course three was called ‘Finisher’ and consisted of a barley stew. Essentially a savoury porridge, it’s probably the easiest item on the menu to digest so far, however it serves as a hearty reminder of the cow’s eventual slaughter.
Finally, the menu moves to meat. The cow, whose life guests have been following, presents itself on the table in the shape of oxtail, bone marrow, tenderloin tartare and pickled tongue. Guests are told the name of the cow as they consume it, reminding them to be mindful where the food came from. Dessert took the form of ‘Cloudy Whipped Cream’, reminiscent of the milk that many cows spend their lives producing.
Although hard to swallow, the meal aims to raise respect for animals’ consciousness and helps to reinforce the pause before purchase, the question of need and quality, and we think it succeeds.
Visit fodder.nyc for more details.