early on saturday morning, a storm comes into copenhagen. though it stops after only an hour, by then the field of flowers in central copenhagen where the MAD food camp raised its tents has turned into a sea of mud. off in a corner of the field, the red and blue circus tent that houses the symposium titled "planting thoughts" has partly collapsed. by 9am, the sun and the danish mosquitoes appear. some of the most world's most thoughtful chefs, writers, and thinkers about food, few of whom have appropriate footwear, stand in the mud eating bread, cheese, and danish pastries while workers, heard but unseen, struggle to repair the tent.
it's a difficult start to a symposium designed to be difficult. planting thoughts is about learning to question preconceptions about food and, in the process, going into unfamiliar and uncomfortable waters. david chang commented the night before that "this is unprecedented. nothing like this has happened before." so when rene redzepi gets onto the stage in mud-spattered boots to open the conference, the first thing he does is admit to being nervous: "i had the same feeling in my stomach when i started noma. it's a feeling in your stomach, your skin, your hair, everywhere." the kind of feeling you get when you start down a path and you don't know where exactly it leads but you sense that it may be taking you where you want to go.
when noma opened, denmark was a protestant country where food could never be cuisine. "our protestant culture was about quickly eating boring food in silence. spices were always from out there, from somewhere exotic where the people are brown and the sun shines all the time. but we found them right here under our noses." for them, noma was the start of the cascade of good things that happen when people find each other and realise they care about the same thing in different ways. "delicious food can be made anywhere," they realised, by learning who to work with, what foods are available, when to buy it, and how to cook it. to be constantly questioning is hard and uncomfortable work but because of it, rene pointed out, "the world opens up. everything is possible. and even if it isn't, we have to try."
tor nørretranders (author and philosopher of science)
from wild to tame—and back again
satoyama and reconstruction after the earthquake
other posts about planting thoughts:
planting thoughts: a symposium without dissenting views,
summaries: session 2, session 3, session 4