An Unusual Dining Experience

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Part of my slow blogging experiment has inspired me to look for other areas of my life that could use some reining in, as well. I’ve been taking more breaks during the work day, pausing to stare and simmer and see. I’ve been reading slower, contemplating each word and letting the deeper meaning sink in with every line of text. And the moment I spotted the “Slow Fast Food Restaurant” from Studio Swine, I knew the next project on my list would be to embrace slower cooking, eating and experimenting.

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As a food lover (the word ‘foodie’ sounds too precocious to label myself as such), I love the idea of savoring my meal, taking the time to experience the fullness of each flavor. Yet all too often, dining out isn’t necessarily conducive to a slower experience, is it? Each course seems to arrive faster than the last as we’re accepting drinks and bread and cheese plates and tapas and suddenly the table is full and our bellies are fuller – all before the main course has even arrived. It’s an interesting picture of our society today – the need to rush forward and push through until we feel fuller; better – until we’re hungry and empty a few hours later, beginning the cycle anew.

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To press ‘pause’ on this cycle, São Paulo and London-based designers Azusa Murakami and Alexander Groves of Studio Swine designed a fast food restaurant where the diner is taken on a journey picking vegetables and baking buns to construct their own hamburger before reaching the dining table. As a result, the act of consuming food is transformed into a ritualistic ceremony.

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“We began by manically dissecting a hamburger into 25 different components and made over 100 prototypes of different eating implements, which corresponded with how we ate certain food, and how the mouth moved when we ate certain things,” Azusa writes. “Each tool was tailored to eat each part of a hamburger.”

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The resulting dining table is reminiscent of a carpenter’s work bench – an array of tools designed for the specific purposes of creating and shaping and designing a desired product to be enjoyed. There are sesame pickers and bun holders and lettuce tongs, primed for hunting, gathering and – ultimately – consuming.

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The pair are conceptualizing the restaurant at the moment, hoping to introduce the idea to the public in the near future. “We never design things that can’t be turned into reality,” Azusa noted.

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Milan Kundera once wrote, “The degree of slowness is directionally proportional to the intensity of memory. The degree of speed is directionally proportional to the intensity of forgetting.” And much like a burger, those are words worth savoring.

Image Credits: Studio Swine

p.s. Just for fun: Patterned silverware, stacked dinnerware and a steak poster.
p.p.s. For a deeper, more meaningful dining experience of your own, my e-friend Shauna just released the most delicious and heartwarming book Bread & Wine. Bon appetit.

  • Along with you, I have adopted the Slow Movement to different areas of my life including design and food like you mentioned. If you haven’t already read Carl Honore’s book, In Praise of Slowness, it is a good read.

    I love the idea of taking time to gather your food, and preparing it in such a way that gives reverence to not only the act of cooking but to all the ingredients that are actually nourishing not only your body but also your spirit.

    However my very favorite tradition that is part of slowing down is the Spanish act of “Sobre Mesa” which translates roughly to on top of the table. To Sobre Mesa means taking lots of time to enjoy not only the food and drink in front of you but the company and conversations surrounding the table. In our culture where so many families so often don’t eat meals together I treasure my time with my Big Mr. and little mr. to “sobre mesa” as much as possible. :)

    Here’s to Slowing Down and enjoying the essentials of life!

    Thanks for sharing. :)

    • Oh I love the idea of “Sobre Mesa” – thank you for sharing, Tania!!! I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed the conversation as much as the meal, so it’s good to hear there’s a tradition to aspire to! :)

  • I agree with what Milan Kundera said. Each time I read hurriedly, I tend to forget the details thus require me to re-read.

    This slow dining idea is interesting. Looking forward for the public to embrace idea.

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