To begin, I’d like to share with you some things I learned that night:
-Flowers look great in old Frangelico bottles.
-Winnie is the biggest fan of L&F or at least she’s been attending for the longest time.
-You better watch out, because Karlheinz Stockhausen might steal your yogurt.
-People laugh less when a penis appears in a cabbage and someone is asked to touch it.
-The Netherlands made 'Love missiles' like some kind of perverse twist on Cupid.
-Don’t take ecstasy pills that say 'Amsterdam Dance Event' on them, but anyway it’s a boring idea to put advertisements on drugs, smiley faces are much better.
-Kiddy pools are called pierenbadjes, perhaps because there is often pee in them.
-You can eat fish bones if they are fried.
-Canners can cook delicious and inspiring meals.
-One way to become famous on Instagram is to become a pretty teenager who makes digital collages of herself in silly situations.
-Cocktails that are only for looking make me wish I had cocktails that are also for drinking.
-Communal desserts are fantastic when a large chocolate egg is smashed on your table.
The evening began with a lovely bike ride to Zaandam. On the ride I met Tereza, who was wearing Pikachu shoes. She was clearly a cool cat, plus she designed a fresh invite flyer for the Lost & Found night at Muziekgebouw a few months ago. I was happy to sit next to her at the dinner. The setting was incredible, an old factory in the forest decorated with projections bouncing off the walls, and white clothed tables set with flowers.
The night started with a speech by Julia van Mourik and Alma Mathijsen, followed by an introduction to the canning factory by one of the employees. I spoke to a woman who is associated with the factory, Jansen Jansen Bachrach en Landshoff, and she explained that they try to make 'good' canned food. For her, 'good' meant: good with whom they work with, where the food comes from, tastes good (something that they feel is lacking in canned foods), and is at a reasonable price (they work with larger factories to lower costs and upscale their products). I found it interesting that canning is their way of re-inventing a future food system, because typically those trying to improve the food system search for freshness and directness between farm and table. But of course canning is an important way to enjoy produce outside of the harvest season so why not make it 'good'.
The first presentation of the evening was by Peter de Vries of the Hembrug Museum Zaandam. Mr. de Vries comes from a family that all worked in the weapons industry at the factory complex Hembrugterrein in Zaandam. He himself worked for 35 years in the same building where we were having dinner, where they made ammunition and missiles for the war effort. He picked up the 'NL Love Missile', which had a painted pink top, from his table of assorted missiles. Mr. de Vries stood proud, like a teenager with his collection of deadly fireworks.
Immediately after his presentation, we made the schizophrenic jump to a complete other universe, a film by the artist Erkka Nissinen called Vantaa from 2007. In the film we follow a creepy tiny bearded man who is searching for his missing yogurt. “Where is my yogurt?” he cries in a manner that reminds of a bouffant clown. “Is it on the table? Noooooo. Is it on the chair? Noooooo.” After wandering around a cartoon colorful neighborhood of talking flowers, xylophones, and homoerotic absurdity, we discover that the yogurt was stolen by Karlheinz Stockhausen, a famous electronic music composer. The film is hilarious, completely strange and hypnotizing. Following the film, Julia spoke to Nissinen on skype where the humor did not end.
“I’m tired of looking at my stupid face” Nissinen remarked.
Julia wondered, “But why then do you always play the lead role?”
“Because I’m available.”
The interview concluded with Nissinen simply saying, “I feel like eating yogurt now.”
At this point the first course of the dinner was served. It was called Eggs with eggs. The plate was aesthetically composed with dots of different elements. A crab puree, haring roe, black mayo made with squid ink, a slice of toasted bread, and a yolk confit. The textures mixed great: smooth, crunchy, soft and delicate.
During the eating, artist/designers Lotte van de Hoef and Freja Kir created psychadelic projections of swirling liquid colors, using overhead projectors and the materials for cocktails. These cocktails were announced as cocktails only for looking. It was visually intriguing, like 1960s trippy effects of a Velvet Underground concert. Here on the other hand, there was no music and unfortunately, the projections seemed to get a bit lost during the eating.
The main course then arrived to the table, coming with it a wave of aroma. The simple but clearly complex dish consisted of steamed Mackerel in a pool of a hearty broth, dried onions, various leafy greens and edible flowers. It was explained to us that everything in the bowl you could eat, including the fish bones because they were fried. This was comfort food on the highest level.
After delicious satisfaction, the presentations continued. Annegien Schilling, a 15-year-old Internet star told us about her Instagram account called Fetching_Tigerss which has 667 thousand followers. Using a free app, she edits photos of herself and makes digital collages of wacky combinations. In one she is pulling a giant clock and in another she has a tongue that looks like a strawberry. I find it both cheesy and somewhat sweet, but mostly it seems like a normal activity for a teenager to be doing; obsessing over images of themselves. Perhaps she has such a large following because she has made quite many collages and they are pretty well made, or perhaps it’s because she herself is pretty, and people like to look at pretty girls. I hope for her sake that creepers leave her alone.
The final course of the evening, the dessert, was a dynamic activity of chefs running over to each table where they began throwing sweet sauces and cookie crumbs into the middle. The table itself became a painting and as a final gesture to top it all off, a giant chocolate egg filled with popping candy was smashed violently into the center. Ooohs and ahhhs were heard at every table, followed by a collective eating by the hands. It was tasty and fun, which could sum up the whole evening. It was a great experience to jump between delicious food and compelling presentations, each very different from each other, adding up to a cocktail not for looking or drinking, but a cocktail of total experience.
The night slowly morphed into a DJ dance inside and a bonfire outside. After dancing for a bit, I chose to go outside for the primordial fire. There I discovered the last bit of wisdom for the night: Fire is better than dancing, but fire and dancing together is surely the best.