Image courtesy of Barron Bixler
“Nimble Foods for Climate Chaos” was a collaboration of New York artist Marina Zurkow and Los Angeles chef duo Hank and Bean with Allison Carruth and the UCLA Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS). The collaboration combined participatory art and culinary experimentation with a focus on edible jellyfish. Debuted at two UCLA events—a moveable feast in the campus Botanical Gardens and a public snack tasting—the focus on jellyfish prompted conversations about what comes after farm-to-table cuisine? what might we eat in the future? and how might chefs and artists lead the way toward agile and just food systems that are responsive to both local cultural practices and global warming realities?
The project made UCLA a testing ground for Zurkow and Hank and Bean's ongoing project Making the Best of It (MTBOI), which creates food and art experiences that intimately connect people to climate change. With an attention to regional ecologies, MTBOI looks for new, novel or ignored foods based on edible species that are indicators of disruptive climate change impacts.
Relatively unchanged since the Precambrian era, jellyfish today constitute a profitable fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. Exported to Asian food markets by trawlers who previously fished for shrimp, jellyfish in the Gulf are arguably an underutilized edible species in many American food cultures. They are tasteless, but very crunchy with an unusual mouth feel, and lend themselves to diverse culinary dishes and techniques. Given their drifts and blooms, jellyfish as a historical and future food source raise provocative questions about commercial fishing as compared to seasonal foraging.
A collaboration of UCLA LENS and Making the Best of It
Sponsors UCLA Arts Initiative, Humanities Division and individual donors
Artwork by Marina Zurkow, food by Hank and Bean
Images in gallery courtesy of Barron Bixler