On the rise of shocking food
Spence C., Youssef J.
Some dishes are shocking because of what they contain, such as Korean dog stew to many Western diners, or horsemeat to the British. Others are shocking merely because of what they look like, or resemble: The growing popularity of animate dishes in parts of Asia, for example, or the much-publicized Michelin-starred Hong Kong chef Alvin Leung's ‘Sex on the beach’ dessert, fall into the latter category. There is a growing trend amongst contemporary chefs to develop dishes that their diners will most likely find ‘shocking’. Such a practice appears to represent something of a step change from the ‘search for deliciousness’ that lies behind molecular gastronomy or modernist cuisine. Here, we describe a dish (dessert) that was recently introduced onto the menu at Kitchen Theory, inspired by Barbara Smith's (1969) edible performance art work entitled ‘Ritual Meal’. Consisting of nothing more than rhubarb and a beetroot juice reduction, the dish is shocking solely because of its visual appearance, both its form and the way in which it is served, cue a human organ that has been removed during surgery. Informal reports suggest that this dish constitutes an especially memorable multisensory component of the diner's experience at Kitchen Theory's Gastrophysics Chef's Table.