Gastronomic Review Shoreditch Town Hall
PUBLISHED: 17:31 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:31 30 September 2019
A seven course tasting menu and a poignant drama of loss and migration offer food for thought
Immersive dining experiences are big right now, but this thoughtful pairing of theatre and gastronomy by experimental company Curious Directive is more poignant drama than delicious dinner.
Seven amuses bouches are served on a first class flight from Beirut to London by a trio of chefs in a steel airline galley. Seated in an oval around them, the audience grab their dishes from a baggage reclaim-style conveyor belt - at one point unlocking a treat from a small piece of luggage.
Head chef Nora (Georgina Strawson) presents her high-concept menu Green and Pleasant Landing with purposefully English references to Bakewell Snow, Brighton Pier and Sherwood Forest.
But as we discover, each dish is steeped in personal memories and the painful loss of a lover.
As we learn of the plight of Lebanese chef Luca - of political oppression and forced migration, the menu title takes on more loaded connotations.
As Nora describes each course, the movement of ingredients and people are indelibly entwined in the food that they brought with them.
An edible cone of deconstructed fish and chips, reminds us it was Jewish immigrants who brought the dish to England.
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'Brick Lane' a panipuri shell filled with Bombay Mix soaked in mint jus recalls the migration from India that has enriched both British culture and tastebuds.
And a (cold, dry) mini Yorkshire filled with root veg, tethered to a helium balloon, signifies departures, voluntary or otherwise.
A day at the seaside is conjured in a pebble dotted with butter blobs like limpets on a rock. The dropped cone itself, is a memory of death.
Even the jocular/menacing border guards are food literate.
One rootles out illegal migrants while eulogising his quarry's delicious Lebanese pastries.
The Augmented Reality aspect of the show - microscenes delibered via headphones and a screen, didn't work on press night. But this nuanced, melancholic blend of memory and taste didn't appear to need it.
As the lucky folk in the first class seats, we were gently urged to check our privilege and to feel the inhumanity of rigid borders.
Food for thought indeed.