Last week a new exhibition started at the Qld Gallery of Modern Art. ‘Harvest’. A celebration of food, it’s less an exhibition and more a festival, encompassing traditional and modern artworks and installations, talks, themed dinners and a film series. Best of all, apart from the dinners, it’s all free. Brisbane’s a great place to live!
The film series is of particular interest for me as I’ll be able to re-connect with some movies I watched many (many) years ago such as ‘Like Water For Chocolate’ and catch up on movies that I really should have seen but never got around to such as ‘Babette’s Feast’ (Babette’s Gaestebud) which I saw last Friday evening. One film I will be seeing no matter what happens is ‘Big Night’ with Tony Shaloub and Stanley Tucci. It come up in ‘best film and best food film’ lists constantly, so I’m going along to see if it’s really as good as everyone says. There’s a cornucopia of films from across the globe including documentaries, dramas and comedies. All up, there are over 40 cinematic treats on offer and I intend to see as many as possible.
I’d like to say that after each movie I will report back, letting you know my thoughts and creating a dish inspired by the particular film but…. Still, I will try to get back to you from time to time.
The Gleaners & I (Les glaneurs et la glaneuse)
(2000/Dir: Agnes Varda/82 mins)
On Wednesday evening I went to see ‘The Gleaners & I’ a French documentary about modern days gleaners who still gather discards from harvested fields as well gleaning in more contemporary environments such as at the end of market trading in the streets of Paris. Rooted in a history of impoverished field workers who made ends meet and fed their families from what they gather after the harvest, it is well represented in art history. In particular, the famous painting ‘The Gleaners’ (1857) by French artist Jean-Francois Millet. (Surely an ideal surname if you are painting harvest and field scenes.)
This was a fascinating film with gleaners talking about their motivations and drivers for gleaning. Some do it to make ends meet, some because it’s a family tradition and others because they can’t abide waste. There is one guy who holds down a job but has not paid for a meal in over 10 years. Along the way we get to know the Director, Agnes who enjoys a fig plucked from a tree here and some heart-shaped potatoes from there. She has some wry observations about the ageing process, whether it’s fruit or people and a damning commentary on food waste.
I don’t have a gleaning or foraging recipe for you but I will draw your attention to a post I did last year where I went on a guided neighbourhood walk to forage for edible weeds: Eat Your Street. I am still timid with some of the weeds as I don’t want to incorrectly identify any and end up in emergency but there are some such as plantain (Plantago Major) that I am quite comfortable picking and using in salads or pies.
I’d also like to point you in the direction of a great website: RipeNearMe.com. You can register when you have grown or have spotted an excess of produce in the local neighbourhood. It’s a technology driven gleaning movement. Because really, though they are delicious, after you’ve eaten your bodyweight in mangoes, you need to share the love. The more people who contribute to this site, the better it will be.
The Harvest exhibition is one to visit a few times so you can take your time and enjoy it in bite sized chunks. There are also some great snacks and meals on offer at the various cafes and restaurants to compliment the exhibition. I hope you can make it.
June 28 – Sep 21 2014