By nature, food is a basic need for human survival. Even with all the material possessions we own, the need for food is inevitable. No wonder people are always occupied with various activities in order to ensure food availability every single day.
However, with the emergence of modern capitalism and the rapid digitalisation, it has become much easier for us to meet our daily food needs. We do not need to spend too much time or effort. Everything is available conveniently on our mobile devices through digital ordering and food delivery services.
There is nothing wrong with this phenomenon. Consequently, this accessibility severed our ties to our roots and to food itself. Most of the time, we are unaware of the ingredients or contents of the food we eat. It all seems to appear out of thin air on our dining table.
A Discussion on Food with Rekam Pangan
The above prologue is a glimpse the discussion held by Bumbu Magz and Rekam Pangan. The discussion took place on June 3, 2023, at the BRIwork UGM Amphitheater, featuring several competent speakers in their fields. The speakers are; Ersya Ruswandono (chef-owner of Eyang Tun Cuisine), Gusti Shabia (manager of Rekam Pangan), and Rizkie Nurindiani (founder of Bumbu Majalah Kuliner).
In the discussion, Gusti Shabia offered an interesting question as a reference for the discussion. The question is as follows:
“How do we remember food? Some people remember its shape. Some people remember its smell. But some people remember it down to its taste, so if there is one food that has the same shape and smell as our favorite food, but the taste is different, we may be willing to find its most original form. Then we will go out of our way to cross a certain distance to embrace the authenticity of the food or to recreate the recipe so that the food can be created in our kitchen.
Based on this question, the discussion aimed to bridge a critical reading of how people today treat the availability of food. Although critical, the speakers and participants in the discussion tried to present it in a friendly and easy-to-understand way so that it could be accepted. Even in the discussion, some participants shared their stories about their memories of their family’s culinary heritage and their experiences of consuming food.
As Ersya Ruswandono said, his initiative to establish Eyang Tun Cuisine was inspired by his memories of his family. Based on his testimony, he often saw his grandmother making pastels for big events or as snacks every day when he was a child. However, as he got older, he felt quite distant from those memories. So he tried to preserve the recipes of his family’s heritage, and used them to build his small business.
In addition to uncovering everyday narratives, Gito, a participant, also offered an interesting reading about the problems he faced with food. According to him, he feels quite unfamiliar with the kitchen and the ingredients in it. The ease and convenience of getting food made him not have time to question where and how the food was made.
Gito’s reading triggered a variety of other interesting questions and readings. One of them was a question from an online participant whose identity I did not have time to find out. The participant raised a reading about the influence of foreign food on our culinary heritage.
Gusti Shabia responded to this reading quite brilliantly, saying that there is a more serious problem behind our loss of knowledge about food in the past. The increasing scarcity of crops due to land conversion into industrial projects makes it increasingly difficult to find sources of ingredients for processing food. Recipes and culinary will continue to develop as our cultural currents change. However, the availability of crops as raw materials for processing food is much more worrying.
Future Reflection on Food
As one of the participants, I gained a lot of insights to read the conditions of our food today. From the discussion, I reflect more on how to appreciate food. Not just to fulfill stomach needs, but food as a source of knowledge itself.
However, I regret the lack of participation from participants in the discussion. During the discussion, only six participants were present physically. However, the lack of participants in person actually made us feel very intimate while talking about our experiences.
After the discussion session, a moderator brought a serving of traditional snacks that could be enjoyed for free by the participants. The snacks made us all more intimate. Even our conversations were not just about food, but more about experiences beyond that.
Written by: Mohamad Ichsanudin Adnan
Translated by: Dwita Nugrahanti