|BY POORVA RAJARAM|
All of us retain experiences of food; they become part of our being and body — our inner archives. But we can never hope to repeat the exact same taste or texture again. We each have a catalogue of our inner edible archives with a shadowy presence that resists full retrieval. An edible archive is an invitation to imagine archiving afresh, outside of the pairings of preservation and destruction, presence and absence, history and memory, mind and body. In such an archive, cataloguing can be sensory, transient and capricious, leaving clues and hiding meanings; an archive, in other words, of a process not a product.
Yet, the edible archive of high consumerism seeks to reverse the fading of our experiences through food memories fed to us via the screen. Through TV shows, social networking sites or mobile apps targeting the moneyed, our personal catalogues of taste suddenly fuse with group-led ratings and reviews and create a new inescapable gold standard of taste and aspiration. This is echoed all the way up the food chain, from fields of rigidly disciplined mono-crops to the mono-experiential non-variety of a food court. The pace of all archiving and retrieval is also sped up — another gambit against edible multiplicity.
Each edible archive has a social story to tell us. At their best, carefully assembled edible archives can be a provocation to consumers like us, by slowing us down. They can highlight traditional knowledges, historical deprivations, systemic erasures and indigenous biodiversity. They can inform us about the alarming and growing distance in economic prosperity between the growers and consumers of food. The structural imposition of the monopolistic edible archive of capital on our everyday lives can only be countered with a desire for regeneration, rather than mediatized hyper-experience: a desire to trace our inner bodily senses back toward the path of societal and personal vitality and renewal.