ACTION 2 STUDIO I - Assignment

2. Terroir

For this action, I was Iris He’s partner. Before starting with the experience, we made a video call to get to know each other a little more and discuss about what we both could or not eat, and the ingredients we could or not get in our respective locations. As an offering of a representative food with ancestral meaning, and for sure one of my favorites, I sent Iris diagrams for cooking dulce de leche [d̪ulseðeˈlet͡ʃe].

Dulce de leche is a very traditional and characteristic sweet in South America, widely consumed, particularly in Argentina and Uruguay. This is one of the things we Argentinians eat a lot and identify with the most. The origins of dulce de leche remain still today being disputed between many countries of South America, but I like to believe in the theory stating that it was born in Argentina.

Some dulce de leche of my own production

The -Argentinian- legend about the birth of dulce de leche says that it was first made by accident in 1829 when the cook for Juan Manuel de Rosas (the governor of Buenos Aires province at the time) forgot some milk with sugar cooking for some hours. Apparently, she was preparing Rosas some warm, sweet milk for serving with the mate -our very characteristic infusion-, but at some point, after an incident, she forgot about it. When she came back to the kitchen, she found this brown, dense and sweet new thing which turned out to be some kind of mistake that everyone instantly loved. 

If that story really happened or not is still being discussed and it’s not that important anyway, but the idea of an accident leading to such a sweet success is really interesting to me. I decided to share this with Iris not only because it’s so characteristic of Argentina and because of the culinary experience in itself. I offered dulce de leche to Iris because of the inspiring idea of a ‘big hit’ being discovered by making mistakes. In that sense, if my diagrams had led Iris into different directions, she may have had a great and different outcome as well, and that could have been interesting as well. After all, dulce de leche was born like that -or so I like to think-.

Dulce de leche doesn’t have any particular rituals or ceremony for eating, but the experience of cooking it brings a sweet aroma of vanilla and caramel that usually extends from the kitchen to other rooms of the house as it slowly cooks sitting on the stove for several hours. 

For this action, I tried to use as few words as possible and I avoided sending pictures or videos. I just used the words I couldn’t express another way and offered Iris only the strictly necessary information so that she could have the sensorial experience of cooking dulce de leche in the least influenced way possible. My goal was to create an appropriate level of uncertainty during the whole process so that everything came as unexpected as possible, trying to recreate somehow the moment that dulce de leche was discovered, back in 1829. After all, Iris was about to discover dulce de leche by herself as well.

I guess the diagrams were effective and worked pretty well for transmitting how to cook the offering. Actually, Iris made a really great looking dulce de leche, which is something very hard to achieve when doing it for the first time(s), and even more so when you don’t even know how it’s supposed to look or taste! On the other hand, I’m not so sure I feel represented by the illustrations I made and the approach I used for drawing those. There’s something in those drawings made with an iPad and ipencil that I feel somehow as a disconnection: It’s me the one who’s tracing those lines, but those lines aren’t really mine.

In case you’re interested in giving dulce de leche a try, here’s the file:

ACTION 2: Terroir – Cooking Iris’s offering

Iris’s offering were some delicious scrambled eggs with tomatoes and these were her instructions:

These are the slides for my experience cooking Iris’s offering:

Thanks to Iris for this great and tasty offering! I really enjoyed cooking (and eating) this, and my wife also really loved it. This is definitely going to be added to our regular menu and culinary repertoire.

You should try Iris’s recipe, it’s great!

Thanks to my wife, Agustina, for taking care of the pics while my hands were busy.
Gotta give credit!

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