Going into a new area today; I made poppy seed, berry, black treacle pie and discussing it on Facebook started me wondering about Steampunk and food. I did some reading about Steampunk and food and started thinking, no clear concept yet, just exploring. Some people discus Steampunk food in use of technology, others in appearance, and some in the use of traditional recipes maybe with new technology. All valid ideas but don’t really work for me. Start with Captain Nemo or Dr. Moreau and their innovation and food development.
Steampunk is in the details and the innovation but with a distinct style and elegance to the harsh, cold, edginess. The elegance of a full Victorian meal with the etiquette and setting to go with it is where my idea starts. Technology improves availability and variety as much as it speeds processes. Long tedious hand prepared meals that keep you in the kitchen all day seem very out of place; as do super quick, incomplete, and unimaginative meals. Where to go from there however?
Technology is important and innovation. Does innovation and drama counter Victorian style meals? When you think about it, there was huge innovation in every area then, even food. So no, I think it rather fits if it can be seamlessly blended in. Ok, so what kind of innovation? At what point does innovation leave the realm of Steampunk creativity and reach into a more cyberpunk region when you are discussing food? Nemo used what was available in dramatic and nourishing ways as well as extensively using hydroponics and other technological innovations.
Molecular gastronomy is not something I have explored a great deal so I am unsure about its place in a Steampunk discussion. I see the reasoning for wanting to use it and envision some wonderful; possibilities. I would want them to have a visual appeal in the high aesthetic or formal setting rather than the supper modern one I have seen it used in previously. But should we use only English aesthetic or etiquette? That
fit. Asian cultures and many others frequently prepare food at the table with great drama and presentation. This is a perfect idea. I have a very practical set of metal chopsticks that break down and fit into a small metal case you can stick in a pen pocket or glasses pocket. Another travel set I have is an origami dish set that could be made out of a number of interesting materials and used anywhere, mine are silicon.
by John B. Carnett Cook Shop: Dave Arnold does what it takes-and sometimes it takes a lot-to make your food taste better. John B. Carnett
Steaming things is almost too obvious and I just don’t see it as a major component at the moment. Flame is good but I am not sure if the method is the best focus. Ingredients and concept are important. One idea is the, meal in a jar, type preparations I have seen in the disaster prepper groups and off the grid living groups. This method of preparing and storing complete meals for extended time ready to be simply cooked at a moment’s notice is an interesting combination with Steampunk innovation and lifestyles. Taking a traditional recipe and understanding why each ingredient is used and what can be used instead from anyplace in the world and with whatever is available seems very to the point. This being my preferred method of cooking I may be a bit biased, but it fits so many aspects of Steampunk. Do we also include the method of growing and obtaining foods?
Adventurer meals and travel preparations from Victorian times updated in some ways and prepared to be enjoyed in style anywhere are a perfect example of some of where I go with this. Food to be prepped for the lab and finished there is another idea. I remember cooking a meal on the engine as we drove across country; it was a fairly traditional chicken, potatoes, carrots, onions in foil or iron pan type meal (could be clay too). These are other directions it could go. Formal Victorian meals with innovative twists are another. This is something I will need to explore further and experiment with but there are so many sources of ideas it will take some time and consideration.
Returning for a moment to the meal in a jar thoughts I want to look at the aspect of planning and preparation for quick use and quality presentation that fills a need in Steampunk. As the author of Design Artketing shows her plan for each week is to get all the ingredients together, prepare the jars for dinner and maybe lunch. Each is stored as required by ingredients, most are pre-cooked. Each day, she just pulls one and spends her time on presentation or other things rather than preparation and stress after work. Another site uses them for picnics and work lunches, so uses mostly fresh ingredients. Still others use dehydrated, freeze dried, or other storable ingredients for long term storage and preparation. Oh, the possibilities and the changes in container, ingredients, methodology, style, and concept this brings up.
I will quote Four Pounds Flour and Sarah Lohman’s exploration of Steampunk cooking.
“I think steampunk embraces the innovative and transformative, the implications of a super science without limits. Food that has those aspects in preparation, presentation, or taste seems to fit. Surprises, doing something completely unexpected with the available tools and parts. The more impossible seeming the better. I chose popcorn since it’s transformation is itself so remarkable. Toast actually has that kind of feel, bread slices vanishing into a metal box with two narrow slots to be returned with a new texture and taste.”
Where this leaves us is with many aspects and ideas for many situations and regions. As with any other aspect of Steampunk I think it is important not to limit ourselves too heavily and lose the innovation and creativity that draws us in.
(Image, ideas) http://www.toquemag.com/food-drink/steampunk-cuisine
(Image, Ideas) http://sharehomedesign.com/20-vertical-garden-ideas/