Hello. I’ve been reading cookbooks.
There’s a certain kind of cookbook that you — or at least I — can read like it’s fiction. Science fiction, even. I was talking with Janice Wang, a researcher at MIT Media Lab, about this at South By the other day. (That was a really interesting visit, by the way.) She was trying to put together a thing about food in science fiction, and having a little trouble finding too much about food culture in sf. And all I could think of was the three cookbooks I’d gotten recently, written by chefs from NOMA. NOMA is a Nordic restaurant dedicated to reinventing hyperlocal, firmly seasonal foodstuffs with Science. And science is still the best poetic fiction there is.
The NOMA Leaf Broth requires fallen autumn leaves of two different vintages: the current year and the year before. They employ car parks full of dehydrators to smash plants down to a perfect powdered essence. Moss is a regular ingredient. Centrifuges and frozen gasses. All the foods are found within a certain radius around the NOMA location. It is near impossible to prepare many of the meals outside that area or without their lab. But that’s not the point.
These are books intended to make you think again about where you live. They serve the essential journalistic element of social fiction: this is where I think I am today and this is what I think it looks like. And then they apply technologies entirely unexpected in the culinary context — like their forebears, people like Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adria — to try and make us reconsider the possibilities inherent in our current context. Cookbooks of the Science Fiction Condition. Take your eyes off the rear view mirror for a second and see people using Mad Scientist shit to make dinner.
(Taken from the top of my most recent newsletter post. Subscribe at http://www.orbitaloperations.com )
I appear to have killed another laptop. I seem to beat them to death — and I’m using Lenovos, which are supposed to be road-warrior machines — every year or so. This one lasted eighteen months before throwing a BSOD and refusing to start Windows, insisting that a patch was preventing the system from… well, doing anything, really.
I’m flying out to LA in a week, and I have three critical jobs to complete before I go. Waiting until the Lenovo gets fixed – or, more likely, waiting for a new machine to arrive and then mounting the dead laptop’s hard drive as an XD so I can get some files off it — is not an option.
I’m writing this on the Chromebook Pixel I was given, which is a beautiful and highly productivity-oriented machine with a few key omissions by design. Like, I can’t run Audacity on it. So, there’ll be no more SPEKTRMODULE podcasts until I get to the X1 Carbon I keep at Undisclosed Rural Location, and I don’t arrive there until February.
I can write like the wind on this thing, though. A few scripts are going to arrive somewhat odd-looking, because I’m writing in Google Drive without the formatting and macros I have access to in OpenOffice (which is still where I write my scripts, saving in RTF, which Drive also has a few issues with). But, between Drive, Gmail, Dropbox and Jungle Disk, the only files I don’t have access to right now are decidedly non-critical. (And I should be able to edit that one critical half-written RTF file on the iPad using Textilus.)
Also, of course, I’m not writing this post in Windows Live Writer like usual, so god knows how it’s going to look. Not that I write here much any more. But I wanted to mark the passing of [DEEPBLACK], the Lenovo Ideapad I beat to death in eighteen months. You served me well, giant creaky plastic black thing. If only you could have waited until I could more easily afford to replace your stupid dead ass.