Wigtown Book Festival

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On the Record was invited to do an event at the Wigtown Book festival in Scotland. We created a pop up memory kitchen in collaboration with chef Simon Wroe. We interviewed local people and worked with Simon Wroe to create a menu of food and conversation topics designed to elicit memories. We explored the way flavours and smells evoke what surrounds them in memory; elaborating on other senses as well as evoking cultural worlds. We deferred describing exactly what the ingredients were in order to tap into diners’ autobiographical memories rather than their ‘semantic’ (recognition of phenomena) memories. For instance, a ‘mystery flavoured’ jelly prompted people to recall the sound of ‘empty old green bottles,’ ‘small sounds behind velvet curtains,’ and ‘children’s parties.’ We later disclosed the flavour as Irn-Bru. Smoky wild mushroom soup (inspired by an interview with a Galloway forager and his ‘funghi fever’) was the spur for discussing memories of childhood. A younger dinner shared her elaborate food avoidance strategy, the imaginary ‘Ministry of Peas,’ while an older man recalled stealing peas off other children’s plates as a hungry youth. So Memory’s Kitchen became a safe and humorous way for complete strangers to discuss the politics of food and scarcity, and how we define ‘the other.’

A mystery flavoured jelly – synaesthesia and free association

Mushroom soup – childhood memories

Spiced salt marsh lamb – opening cultural horizons