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F.O.O.D. at the Mint casts a new eye on eating

By Kathleen Purvis
kpurvis@charlotteobserver

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  • F.O.O.D.: Food, Objects, Objectives, Design

    The exhibit includes 300 items from the permanent collection, loans and new acquisitions. It’s bilingual and co-curated by the Mint Museum and FoodCultura of Barcelona.

    When: March 2-July 7, Mint Museum Uptown, 500 S. Tryon St., www.mintmuseum.org.


  • Events include:

    •  Co-curators’ Dialogue, with Antoni Miralda and Annie Carlano, 3 p.m. March 3, Mint Uptown. Free for members or with museum admission.

    • F.O.O.D. Stories: Food Memories from Area Writers, with Dannye Romine Powell, Andrea Cooper, Kali Ferguson and Rebecca McClanahan, 3 p.m. April 7, Mint Uptown; free for members or with museum admission.

    • F.O.O.D. Conference: A daylong event with presentations by food writers, chefs, historians and designers. Speakers include Darra Goldstein, founder of Gastronomica; chef Peter Reinhart; graphic designer Louise Fili; Asheville architect Ken Gaylord; and designers Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin of FormaFantasma. $60 for members includes lunch and admission to Michael Graves’ lecture on April 25; $85 for nonmembers with box lunch ($100 with Graves’ lecture).

    • Farm to F.O.O.D.: A food event at Halcyon Flavors from the Earth on June 10, featuring Charlotte chefs, locally grown food and an exhibit tour. Ticket price and menu to be announced.


  • Pan Tomate (Tomato bread)

    Montse Guillen, the partner of Spanish artist Miralda, is a renowned chef in Barcelona. Her version of Pan Tomate – Pa’amb Tomaquet in Catalan – is a favorite of Mint director of craft and design Annie Carlano.

    1 loaf country-style bread

    3 large, ripe tomatoes, preferably heirloom

    Spanish olive oil

    Salt

    SLICE the bread into 6 thick slices. Arrange the pieces on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown on both sides.

    CUT each tomato in half. Rub a tomato half on each slice of bread, using a circular motion to crush the pulp into the surface of the bread. Discard the peel.

    DRIZZLE with olive oil. Just before serving, sprinkle with salt.

    YIELD: 6 servings.


  • Day-After-Thanksgiving Turkey Gumbo

    Part of the F.O.O.D. show will gather recipes for the Mint Museum’s first cookbook. Mint president Kathleen Jameson has already shared her favorite.

    Leftover cooked turkey

    1 cup vegetable or canola oil

    1 cup all-purpose flour

    1 cup chopped onion

    1 cup chopped green bell peppers

    1 cup chopped celery

    12 to 16 cups turkey or chicken stock

    16 to 20 ounces andouille sausage, sliced

    2 to 3 tablespoons cayenne pepper (or to taste)

    1 tablespoon salt

    2 tablespoons minced garlic

    2 cups sliced green onions, divided

    Hot sauce

    HEAT the oil over medium heat, gradually whisking in flour to make a roux. Cook for 6-10 minutes, stirring often, until medium or reddish brown. Be careful not to burn it.

    STIR in onions, bell peppers and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add turkey, including the carcass if possible, to the pot. Add enough stock to cover. Cook over medium to medium-low heat for about 1 hour, or until the meat begins to drop off the bones. Carefully remove bones.

    ADD sausage, pepper, salt and garlic and simmer 30 minutes to 1 hour. Just before serving, stir in 1 cup green onions, saving the rest for garnish. Serve with hot sauce.

    NOTE: You can add other leftovers, especially the turkey gravy, when you add the sausage and spices.



Art nourishes your soul. Design feeds your needs.

For the next few months, the place where they come together will be a new exhibit at the Mint Museum.

F.O.O.D. (Food, Objects, Objectives, Design) will not only bring together more than 300 modern objects involved in feeding ourselves, but it will also be notable on a couple of other scores. It’s the Mint’s first bilingual exhibit, and the co-curators are Mint director of craft and design Annie Carlano and Spanish artist Antoni Miralda (he prefers to be called Miralda) from Barcelona’s FoodCultura, an exhibition space that uses food objects to explore culture.

“We want to fill our museum with all kinds of people,” says Carlano. With a whole list of food-related events, including gathering recipes for the first Mint Museum cookbook, she hopes F.O.O.D. will get all kinds of people to look at everyday objects in a new way.

“The focus is really kind of innovative, 21st-century design harmonizing with contemporary, everyday objects.”

‘Always interested in food’

As an art historian, Carlano never considered doing something with food and art. But a food-design show actually was a natural.

She calls herself a foodie, and she came to Charlotte almost as interested in the local-food movement as she was in the museum. She volunteers at the Matthews Community Farmers Market and is active in the Slow Food organization.

“I was always interested in food. Always.”

The first-generation daughter of parents from Hungary and Italy, she was raised in a multicultural area in New York where the neighbors were Chinese and Ukrainian. She was 10 or 12 before she saw Wonder Bread. She remembers telling her parents about the strange, squishy-soft stuff a friend’s family ate.

When she was working in Sante Fe in 2005, she and two French colleagues started talking over dinner about how cool it would be to do something with design and food. The French side of that idea happened in France, a show called “Table: Art, Food and Culture.” But Table got tabled in America when Carlano left for a new job in Charlotte.

She never stopped thinking about the idea, though. The Mint’s craft and design collection has a lot of objects that were either inspired by food or used to create it, from ceramic face jugs to high-end serving pieces from the Italian design company Alessi.

“It was always on my mind to reconfigure this exhibit in a way that made sense for the Mint and for Charlotte,” she says. “It evolved that it would be more design-focused and less anthropology.”

‘You want Miralda’

Carlano stayed in touch with her French colleagues, looking for an artist who could be the focus of an exhibit. Instead, they steered her toward an artist who designs exhibits.

“They said, ‘you don’t want an artist. You want Miralda.’ ” A major figure in the art world, he’s known for installations that use food objects to explore meaning.

He agreed to spend two weeks in Charlotte, putting together a show with a framework of the rituals that involve food. The exhibit will be divided into four sections – Table, Kitchen, Pantry and Garden – what Carlano calls “those places in our homes that have tremendous meaning.”

Miralda also came up with another component. The Mint wanted to make the exhibit interactive. Miralda suggested recipes: At the end of the exhibit, you’ll have a chance to fill out a recipe card.

After the show closes, the museum will work with Johnson & Wales University to use some of the recipes for its first community cookbook.

Beauty of everyday objects

Bringing the exhibit together wasn’t all that easy, though.

“I owe so much to the design committee,” Carlano says. “They were behind me when people said, ‘Food and design? What?’ ”

She tried to tell a museum colleague in New York what she envisioned and got dismissed with “transgressive” – sniffy art-world speak for “that’s not art.”

Carlano doesn’t get that attitude at all.

“The most avant-garde industrial designers all speak eloquently of their interest in everyday-object making.”

It’s what she calls “art with a small ‘a.’ ” An artist might create a bowl as an object of beauty. A designer creates a bowl to hold something. Its purpose gives it beauty.

Carlano’s ultimate goal is for people to leave the exhibit and look at the objects of their lives with new perspective.

“I love things that are beautiful and useful,” she says. “I want people to realize that is really cool. That coffee cup” – she plops down a disposable coffee cup. “Look at that. That ridge around the edge of the lid didn’t just happen. It was designed to be that way. The branding on the lid that says ‘Solo.’ That didn’t just happen. That’s vernacular design.

“I want people to come away with excitement for the everyday objects of their lives. Your life is enriched by design.”

Purvis: 704-358-5236
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