If spending hours prostrate on a sofa watching Gordon Ramsay, Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver et al has taught me anything, it’s that most of our favourite foods are all about heat. Obviously, this is not a hard and fast rule - uncooked veggies and salads can still be totally delicious and specialist dishes like sushi and ceviche dispense with fire altogether. By and large though, if you want to eat it, you have to cook it. Raw chicken doth butter no parsnips.
When you think about it, there’s actually relatively few ways of being truly innovative with cooking. Barbecuing, grilling, frying, roasting and braising all have the same basic principle at heart: get ingredients; apply heat in one way or another; wait; eat. From the depths of the internet, however, has emerged a new cooking theory, one seemingly designed to disgust diners and cooks alike. For no discernible reason, people are cooking with their mouths.
The first two questions that spring to mind are, quite justifiably, “How?” and “Why?” The first is infinitely more straightforward to answer. In a series of videos that have exploded across the internet, host Iska Lupton guides horrified foodies on a journey to some of the more disturbing recesses of the kitchen. In the two videos currently published, Lupton provides an alarmed audience with recipes for the classic dishes turkey stuffing and steak tartare, prepared without the use of a single piece of cutlery.
Lupton’s turkey recipe features onions, carrots, celery, garlic and bread, all merrily masticated in the name of dinner. The resulting slew is regurgitated and combined in a mixing bowl. To make matters worse, Lupton then proceeds to whisk a raw egg between her molars before adding to the concoction. The turkey is then stuffed and cooked, whilst Lupton presumably spends several hours brushing her teeth.
The steak tartare is not much better. After gnawing on a hunk of meat to produce “a perfectly formed, and very well loved, steak hache”, Lupton proceeds to chew gherkins, shallots and chillies, before heaping the whole unholy lot together on one of the world’s least appetising looking plates. Neither recipe will be appearing on Twisted anytime soon.
To find out why these two videos came about, you need to talk to the mastermind behind the operation. Nathan Ceddia is a producer and artist who has a catalogue of unusual films featuring food. “Man vs. Gut” provided an up close and personal auditory look at the eating process, while his 2016 work “Cake Holes” provides an NSFW exploration of eroticism and sponge. Clearly, Ceddia has food on the brain.
Speaking to both Munchies and The Atlantic, Ceddia revealed that the recipes were intended to be a tongue in cheek jab at modern popular cooking culture, stating that, “social media has overshared food too much. Everyone watches the cooking show, but no one cooks the meal. It's become food porn, over-the-top and gross and extreme." As a piece of satire highlighting the ridiculousness of many modern food fads, Ceddia’s work certainly does the trick.
Though it seems almost impossible to take the finished product seriously, Ceddia is nonetheless bullish when it comes to the benefits of the new method. He claims to practise the techniques himself, professing that they help him to “channel (his) inner caveman.” How serious he is is up for debate. If he is sincere, it seems unlikely that many new disciples will follow him. Those that do are welcome to it. Just don’t expect the rest of us to attend any dinner dates in the future.