Food & Culture

Water-buffalo tongue and sweet-and-sour cane toad: MONA has released "cookbook"

The outré Hobart museum is at it again, launching a surreal cookbook on how to cook pests, and an exhibition to match.

By Lee Tran Lam
Mark Wilsdon's recipe for water-buffalo tongue and sauce piquant
Pussy cat, Tasmanian-style. Sweet and sour cane-toad legs. Fox tikka masala. Roast camel stuffed with goat and pheasants. Not your typical recipes, but then Eat the Problem isn't a typical cookbook.
Its author, curator and artist Kirsha Kaechele, calls her 544-page book an "artwork". Its publisher, the outré Hobart institution MONA, calls it "a surrealist compendium of food and art".
It features "recipes" for cooking, eating and thinking about pests, along with poetry, essays and interviews that "reimagine what we think of as invasive". Contributors include chefs (Enrique Olvera, Dominique Crenn and Heston Blumenthal among them), writers, scientists and artists, including Tim Minchin, James Turrell and Marina Abramovic.
Kaechele traces the project to 2013 when she staged zero-waste markets on the museum's roof. "We asked all the food-stall chefs to create dishes out of invasive species, and serve them with no disposable anything," she says. Dishes such as starfish-on-a-stick by the museum's chef Vince Trim were the "fun and challenging" result.
Christine Manfield's sea-urchin spaghetti
Some recipes in Eat the Problem sound genuinely enticing, such as Christine Manfield's sea-urchin spaghetti and Tetsuya Wakuda's venison tataki with root vegetables.
Others are in keeping with the book's "conceptual and experimental" approach to sustainability. A hemlock cocktail recipe, for example, comes with a disclaimer: "This is art. Do not make this cocktail! Socrates drank hemlock and he died." The notion of using a weed to take out humans (surely the most invasive species of all) makes an interesting, hypothetical point.
The book's ideas are the basis of MONA's forthcoming Eat the Problem exhibition. There'll be dining events, too – and yes, pussy cat, Tasmanian-style, might even make the menu.
Eat the Problem by Kirsha Kaechele (MONA Publications, $277.77, hbk). The accompanying exhibition opens on 13 April at the Museum of Old and New Art, 655 Main Rd, Berriedale, Tas, mona.net.au
SHAREPIN
  • Author: Lee Tran Lam