The NOW now right now – Day 3 (Festival Review)

One of the most popular events of the festival is an interesting art space / sound experiment with Food. Over three of the five days of the Festival, Rosita Holmes
and Rishin Singh host a lunch for approximately ten to twenty people, “at a warehouse” in Marrickville. Here is the blurb that acts as introduction:

Rosita and Rishin’s experimental cuisine will be accompanied by the music
of three different experimental musicians each day.
Long Lunch with Rosita and Rishin is a BYO, gluten-free, vegetarian event.

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The menu is the same each day, but the musicians change. After our lunch we had an opprotunity to sit with Ben Byrne (data Tapes)  and Rosalind Hall (saxophone) and discuss the music they played and how it related to the food. We talked about the rise and fall in conversation and the planes flying overhead, rarely welcome, but embraced as part of our lunch / spoundscape.  The musicians shared with us their thoughts on the food and the way it was able to impact on the music. As a listener / eater I noticed the music started very quiet.  Rosalind’s sax often replaced by simply the reed, the sound of blowing and breath being very important in the early stages of the company.

096Early on we ate aperitifs and entree’s (with our hands) of shredded coconut and radish, curried boiled egg in breadcrumbs, chills stuffed with vanilla infused ricotta and honey-due melon with a warm sauce.  After this, the above was presented to us as a palette cleanser.  A small custard with a hint of rosemary and parmesan.  Conversation among the twenty participants was flowing easily at this point.  The datasettes were fairly quiet with only short bursts of static that felt like a gentle caress when played. The muted sax rose gently from its breathy start.  Those at the table talked about India.

098Small bowls were then handed out by a very busy Rihsin, and glasses of yoghurt and cucumber for the powerhouse of chilli sauce that was available. The rice balls came next (you can imagine our excitement here).  Each rice ball contained a generous mozzarella burst, all of which went swimmingly with the dark red chilli sauce.  We ate with our fingers, each slurping and sucking off the sauce and the small jewels of rice as they landed.

099I’m not a foodie, and no doubt you will all be appalled to discover I don’t know what the above is except that I can tell you it tasted very good.

I was interested to note at this point, we started to talk about music. My observations decided this was because the sounds around us were starting to impact on the conversation. The music was moving closer to the food, and we ingested it along with the experience. Music tastes varied at the table, but as the meal wore on and the conversation grew, the appreciation for what was moving gently toward us grew. It was hard to tell at this point if the food was informing the music or if the music was informing the food.

100The room was sparse. The table undecorated. We sat in mismatched chairs in a beautiful empty space that we were each filling with sound. The table was a slap of something supported by upturned milk crates (where would the art community be without milk crates?). We drank water and filled our bellies with vegan goodness. Byut his stage, the music had turned more to a performance mode, thrilling us with Ben’s Datasettes louder – almost to the point of blocking conversation, and Rosalinds sax more prevalent now, moving more into the space made vacant by our intermittent silences. A strong feeling of camaraderie infused the table.  People felt close, warm, happy and connected. Oh yes, there were all the moves and counter moves that occur when folk get together, but it was all made welcome and that made all the difference.

101We finished the meal with a lovely meringue topped with fresh cream and a lovely mint sour jelly. This was a refreshing burst of flavour when eaten in a crunchy bite  – again much licking and sucking of fingers took place (each their own of course). The music slowed to the end of its performance and the lovely musicians joined us for more conversation.  We discussed the food and the music, the recipients happily making way for the real stars of the day.  Rosie broke the joyous news to us that we “eaters” were to wash up, and without a pout or grizzle all were happy to oblige. There was something so communal about the lovely setting and the beautiful music and food, that made us happy to continue laughing and chatting over washing up. The hard workers ate and talked among themselves and we the grateful cleaned up after ourselves.

This was a delightful experience and I am very happy that it has been such a success. I hope it wasn’t too much work, because it would be a joy to see it at future festivals. Thanks to Rosie and Rishin for incredible food and many thanks to Ben and Rosalind for exquisite music.

What a sensory joy!