This weekend PeaceMeals joined up with the 2013 Household Arts Festival in Belfast. Household is an amazing locally-run festival that encourages audiences to re-negotiate how they view and interact with art in urban and domestic spaces. Essentially, it seeks to make art accessible by bringing it from elite spaces like galleries, theaters, and concert halls into streets, alleyways and homes (literally). There were so many amazing exhibits where, for one weekend, people could just walk into homes around a certain neighborhood of Belfast and enjoy art such as painting, literature, poetry, music, film, photography, letter-writing, crafts, and discusions on local issues ranging from citizen cycling to housing rights to urban foraging.
PeaceMeals came alongside Household to explore the ideas of food, dining, and cooking as art, and these forms of art as catharsis. Like many post-conflict zones, Belfast is a beautiful yet broken city. Citizens have been using art to heal for a while now, but many are still reticent to interact with strangers due to the legacy of mistrust built by ‘the Troubles.’
To appreciate both food and art, one must master the art of savoring. You can breeze through a gallery and miss the colors and textures and craftsmanship before you, just as you can mindlessly consume a meal in front of the TV or computer, and afterwards feel neither satisfied nor inspired.
On the other hand, if you take the time to pause and engage your senses, you will appreciate the work of art before you so much more. This goes for both a painting as well as for a bowl of soup.
PeaceMeals is all about the art of savoring. We savor our food so much more when we take the time and care to prepare it well. We savor it when we nourish (not just feed) ourselves and our loved ones, and when we dine in community. And this, in turn, is an ethos of Household: open up our lives to share our time, talents, and interests with others.
For this unconventional PeaceMeal, 9 of us gathered in a local home and chipped in to make a simple and delicious meal:
- Big green salad with local goat cheese, figs, and homemade dill honey-mustard dressing
- Creamy tomato-basil soup (made with cashew cream!)
- Crusty wheaten bread and tomato-olive loaf from Bread & Banjo Bakery
- Homemade granola and yogurt parfaits with spiced fruit compote for dessert
Over dinner we discussed the ideas of food as art…how best to savor it, especially when short on time, money, or mental energy…comfort foods…plating and presentation of foods…and more. It was great discussion from intelligent and creative people with a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities. I had printed for everyone everyone my absolute favorite food essay, about learning to savor in the quiet moments.
I will share more photos in a future blog post – after all, this was an arts-based PeaceMeal. But for now, I’ll end with a HUGE thanks to our sponsors: Bread & Banjo Bakery, McCormick’s Fresh Foods, Tesco, and the Pavilion Bar, all located on the Ormeau Road in Belfast. Such amazing generosity! Go shop there, people!
…And a final call for us all to savor the art in the every day. After all:
“To eat is necessity. To eat intelligently is an art.”
-Francois de la Rochefoucauld