Food for Theoryheads, or Theory for Foodies? Michael Pollan This Is Not…

Miguel Abreu may be New York’s most intellectual art dealer. That is what we always think when we visit his elegant gallery on Orchard Street, and gaze at bookshelves populated not by the usual art monographs, but by volumes of Lacan and Badiou. Not surprisingly, given his literary and philosophical bent, Mr. Abreu is fond of having book related events at the gallery. (A year ago we tried to go to a Slavoj Zizek lecture at his gallery but got there a few minutes late and, tough luck, were turned away — the place was at capacity, packed with bookish hipsters and the more readerly among art types.)

On July 28 from 6 to 8pm, Mr. Abreu is hosting a book event for his star artist,  the painter R.H. Quaytman, who is a standout at this year’s Venice Biennale, and was a star of last year’s Whitney Biennial. Ms. Quaytman has a thick — 400 pages!–new monograph out from Sequence Press, in collaboration with Sternberg Press and Kunsthalle Basel, the museum in Basel, Switzerland, that currently has a show of her work.

Sharing the evening’s bill with Ms. Quaytman’s book is the latest installment in the publisher Urbanomic’s limited edition “Collapse” series, called Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism. From its description, the book appears to — well, let’s say it adds a gristley poststructuralist chapter to the current craze for Michael Pollan-ish foodie-ism. Isn’t it high time theory made it’s plodding way into the kitchen? Chew on this, foodies:

Is it possible to maintain that cookery has a philosophical pertinence without merely appending philosophy to our burgeoning gastroculture? How might the everyday sense of the culinary be expanded into a culinary materialism  wherein synthesis, experimentation, and operations of mixing and blending take precedence over analysis, subtraction, and axiomatisation? Drawing on resources ranging from anthropology to chemistry, from hermetic alchemy to contemporary mathematics, Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism undertakes a trans-modal experiment in culinary thinking, excavating the cultural, industrial, physiological, chemical and even cosmic grounds of cookery, and proposing new models of culinary thought for the future.

“Hermetic alchemy”? “Cosmic grounds”? Aside from a feast at Peter Luger’s, has food ever been quite this heavy? Considering that essays include “Black Cake (A Recipe for Emily Dickinson, for Emily Dickinson)”, “Whey To Go: On the Hominid Appropriation of the Pig-Function”, “Spiritual Meat: Resurrection and Religious Horror in Bataille”, and  “Corn Bomb: An Extended History of Nitrogen”, we’re not sure whether to be frightened or excited to hear that it comes with an appendix of recipes.

Then again, one essay is called “Reason in the Roasting of Eggs.” Assuming reason is not some weird new spice, it’s about time someone brought it to the roasting of eggs. Let them eat corn bombs…