Proposal by: Paolo Bosca

Food Utopias

Project Proposal: A different geography of taste

Food Utopias is a performative and theoretical research which investigates the power exercised by map on space, specifically in gastronomy.

We use maps every day. The most common maps see the world "from the eye of God" (Italo Calvino). They're a device through which we represent the space in which we are immersed. Among the effects of this way of representing is that most of the qualities of the territory are lost. Flavors, shapes, smells: much of our aesthetic (sensible) experience does not pass through the filter of modern cartography. This creates a power: limiting the experience constrains our actions. Food Utopias investigates the effects of this power in gastronomy and tries to create a new map to navigate ourselves in accordance with a broader sensible experience of the space. 


One of the ephemeral utopias made during the "making utopias" workshop in Can Serrat - credits:  Lucille Saillant

Project Description

The first step is taking the map of an area between one and five square kilometers, highlighting everything concerning the food (fields, restaurants, production areas). Due to the bird's eye view, the things that are gonna be more highlighted are gonna be the biggest ones, or the ones with a broader extension. Then we need to repeat the research walking around the territory: from brambles, to edible plants, to private kitchens, to fragrant flora etc. By changing the criterion of representation, we create a new map (to be followed with a collective walk and a meal made with the edible products found on the way) to re-discuss power relationships in the chosen space. What could happen is that a huge productive facility (for example, a factory) that for a traditional map has lots of space, has no relevance under a gastronomic point of view, because has no importance for our gastronomic experience. At the same time searching for different gastronomic stimulations can help to give a new self-knowledge to a place, helped by the collective walk as a tool to give another point of view on the territory and on the approach to biodiversity in nature.

In order to work on both maps and explore the territory, hopefully with the help of local people and of one or two artist/researchers involved, between two and three weeks are needed. After that, one more week will be dedicated to the final output, so to the collective walk and dinner, in collaboration with a selected chef. 

Possible ways to expand the project

Food Utopias it’s easy to expand, because it can be reproduced, with totally different results and outputs, on every territory. It would be really interesting to develop many different maps of different places, from countryside to city suburbs, and try to create various forms of relationship with the territory and its inhabitants, through talks, collective walks or simply dialoguing with them. The project is composed by different elements (the traditional map, the new map, the walk, the dinner) and every one of them can be modified in order to create a different experience anytime.

Paolo Bosca

Paolo Bosca (@paolo__bosca) is a researcher and writer focused on themes related to space, place, utopia and geography. He often includes food and wine as cultural, emotional and aesthetic elements of every article or research. His research's starting point is the concept of utopia, identified as the word that nominates all of the spaces which are fleeing to the topology (and so topography) of a given power system.

Estimated costs

The project could cost between €3.000 and €6.000 per actuation (per place). It depends by the number of days of work, the vastness of the chosen space, by the number of participants to the walk-dinner and by the number of people collaborating between chefs, artist and researchers.

Copyright of all the pictures is @Lucille Saillant


This proposal is part of the 'Penny for your Thoughts' project 2022.