Smog Tasting

This spring FCINY collaborates with the Center for Genomic Gastronomy and Edible Geography, presenting a project titled Smog Tasting as a part of the New Museum's IDEAS CITY Festival on May 30th.

Smog Tasting street cart makes urban air quality tangible by harvesting air from highly polluted areas and serving it in meringue form. Egg foams are up to 90 percent air, and whipping the eggs causes particulate matter to be trapped in the batter. The batter can be tested for heavy metals and VOCs, compared in a microscope or baked and served as “Trojan horse” sweets.

The custom Smog Tasting cart will feature a portable smog chamber and will serve up free, edible smog meringues from different cities and eras, as well as printed materials, including field guides to smog harvesting and suggested food pairings. The cart, decorated with supergraphics displaying air-quality data, will also serve as a base for smog harvesting workshops.

As one of the main ingredients is the air that we breathe everyday, the served treats are not hazardous. Instead they act as a reminder of the importance of air quality and offer a way of understanding what smog is. The effects of smog can be deadly, but because of its invisibility and the long time it takes for the health backlash to manifest, it’s hard to alert people to its threats.

Smog chamber, image courtesy the Center for Genomic Gastronomy

London-style pea-souper smog meringue. Image courtesy the Center for Genomic Gastronomy

The project is characteristic of The Center for Genomic Gastronomy’s goal of researching people’s connection to food and where it comes from. The artist-led think tank examines the biotechnologies and biodiversity of human food systems. The Center has conducted research and exhibited in England, Germany, India, Ireland, Netherlands, Singapore and the US.

The theme of this year’s IDEAS CITY Festival is The Invisible City, exploring questions of transparency and surveillance, citizenship and representation, expression and suppression, participation and dissent, and the enduring quest for visibility in the city. This is the second time FCINY participates in the Festival. Smog Tasting is part of FCINY’s 25th Anniversary program, which focuses on the theme of urban nature.

More info on The Center for Genomic Gastronomy:

More info on IDEAS CITY Festival May 28 - 30: