Spore

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“Spore” as presented on the banquets tables.

This entremet, titled “Spore”, was served to the 150 guests of Le Banquet held at contemporary art museum Palais de Tokyo[1] on November 20th, 2019 as part of Futur, ancien, fugitif, an exhibition dedicated to the “french art scene”. This dish is part of a research project called Spore & Pollen.

This sharing platter consisted of black brioches[2], aged pecorino cheese and puffed crystallised sage.

Shaped like multiplicating yeast cells, the sourdough brioche was produced without egg, milk or butter which were swapped for oat cream, walnut oil and aquafaba[3]. To add to its texture when cooled, the brioche was injected with walnut oil.

Introduction to the dish

Mating yeast cells
A close up on the soil-colored brioches
Yeast cells

“Species have cooperated together for millions of years, and we are here thanks to it. 

Plants were able to develop themselves on land thanks to Fungi, which is able to digest rocks and turn it into soil. The tendrils of the fungi (it’s “roots”) called hyphae extends into the solid rock, extracts vital mineral for plant growth such as calcium and then trades it for the plant’s sugars. It is this calcium that we will find later on in our bones.

In a sense, the kingdom of fungi is involved in the largest mining operation in the world. 

Fungi is the collaborative specie of our ancestors, and continues to be up until this day. It is therefore not surprising that yeast (which is also fungi) is called in many cultures: the mother. Take the Italian word for sourdough lievito madre for instance, Moederdeeg in dutch or in English, mother culture. 

One “mother” in particular can be credited for impacting our culture directly, and for 9000 years: it’s name is Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. This yeast is responsible for three of our most important culinary pillars: bread, beer and wine.

Humans have been breeding several species of fungi, in the same way we have been breeding farm animals and plants. But what if we flipped this concept around ? What if the opposite was also the case? What if some of the most widespread species such as: wheat, rice, maize, coffee, sugar and yeast had, in fact, domesticated us? What if they were using us as cultivators for their own survival and reproduction, as much as we are using them for the production of valuable foods. This idea would challenge our human-centric world-view. It would allow us to perceive how humans and non-humans are, and have been throughout evolution: part of a complex cluster of interactions. It is a world view in which humans let go of one idea:  that they are the only ones who control.

To be aware of the cooperation between species as well as how they cohabite together is fundamental, but also seems more urgent than ever. We are facing an environmental crisis and a mass extinction. Biodiversity is crucial to guaranty the resiliency of the Earth's ecosystem. We see examples of the absence of biodiversity and inter-species cooperation in agriculture, where the use of fungicides destroys the fundamental relationship between fungi and plants. This lack of biodiversity has transformed our agricultural systems into destructive and fragile industries, producing foods which are poor in nutrients and minerals.

To foster “biodiversity” entails therefore to take the microscopic level into consideration. Even tough they are invisible to the human eye, fungi and bacterias have thousands of functions which are essential to guarantee the well-being of our ecosystems.

For this bread and cheese entre-met, we have therefore called on the use of a diversity of fungal species:

  • 1st, the yeast S. Cerevisiae as well as a multitude of wild yeasts hosted by the sourdough which we used in the brioche.
  • 2nd, The propionibacteriums and wild yeasts that allows sheep milk to become the cheese we are serving to you today.

The bread and cheese are here served with crystallised sage. Sage can be used as an antidote to protect bread from mold. Because plants do collaborate with fungi, but not always.”

Take a look at the Behind the scenes

🎞Coming soon

Notes

  1. Paris, France.
  2. A typical french bread in which fat (butter, oil and even lard) is incorporated
  3. The water you get from cooking dried beans