Eat London, 2007
On Saturday, April 28, tourists passing through Trafalgar Square around lunchtime certainly got more than they bargained for. They were greeted by a spectacle of unusual proportions: the city of London being served up for lunch.
From Hyde Park to Tower Bridge and Oxford Street to Elephant and Castle, central London was familiar yet strangely different. Nothing was missing; all the towers, squares, parks and office blocks were present and to scale. There were buses crossing the bridges and the HMS Belfast securely moored on the Thames. But London had never looked quite so loved and cared for. The handmade wholemeal toasted cucumber sandwich Houses of Parliament and bagel BT Tower appeared domesticated and playful.
This edible London spread out on tables beneath Nelson's Column and covering an area of 60 square metres, cried out to be explored and rediscovered, surveyed and most certainly sampled! Tourists and Londoners alike delighted in and drawled over an Indian sweet Buckingham Palace with sticky sweet jellabis gates, a London Eye of pizzas with red pepper pods suspended by cheese and an Imperial War Museum of Vietnamese spring and summer rolls.
This was Eat London, the UK premier of Ali&Cia's ceremony of Urbanophagy, presented by Lift (London International Festival of Theatre). Around 200 people from fourteen community groups from east and south-east London danced, played music and offered their foods for free to the public. All in Trafalgar Square, not only the symbolic heart of London but also site of the original Charring Cross from which all distances are measured and since its beginnings a favoured site for political demonstrations and cultural activism.
Among the groups participating were organisations of refugees and immigrants, associations promoting the social integration of people with disabilities, and other groups providing educational and social opportunities. They made up a wide range of ethnicities, abilities and ages. Each group had drawn on their own culinary traditions, along with a fair dose of wit, observation and ingenuity, to turn the iconic places and spaces of downtown London into a feast for all the senses, offered as a gift to the public.
The work was presented to the public with music specially commissioned for the event booming out across the square. Upbeat and funky it was strangely and suggestively corporeal, composed of gulping, humming and what sounded like the sharpening of knives. While the music got our gastric juices flowing, the different community groups separated their table from the gastronomic patchwork and paraded it around the fountains towards their gazebo, dancing their own choreography and showing their work off to the crowds. The public then followed the groups to the tents where they lined up, eager to take a bite out of the city. It is estimated that between two and three thousand people indulged in this collective catharsis.
· Bowbons from Bromley by Bow Centre
Information about each group can be found in the Map Menu
· Illugi Eysteinsson
British Museum (download pdf)
Video by Miguel Eraso for Ali&Cia (English and Spanish)
With subtitles in English (see video)
Con subtítulos en español (see video)
Eat London(download pdf)
Sue Palmer, The Ashden Directory
The Edible City(download pdf)
Lyn Gardner, The Guardian, 25/4/2007
Eat London(download pdf)
Natasha Polyviou, Time Out, 25/4/2007
'Cooking and Eating London'(download pdf)
By Alicia Ríos and Simon Cohen published in Petits Propos Culinaires 84, Prospect Books, December 2007.
Choreography Director- Luca Silvestrini, Assistant to the Choreography Director- La Tia Thomas, Music Direction- Urban Development through collaboration with Tony Nwachukwu, DJ Wonder and Urban Development students from Lister Community School, Ajay Nair and Raj Waghela, Production Manager- Jonathan Bartlett, Press Consultant- Sharon Kean from Kean Lanyon, Design- thomas.matthews, Photography- Tim Mitchell
Kitchen operations and food safety
Ken Hawksworth, David Matchett, Norma Henning, Hoxton Apprentice, Red Snapper Events
Artistic Director- Angharad Wynne-Jones, Executive Producer- Susanna Eastburn, Finance Manager- Federico Braun, Finance Placement- Alessio Romani, Office Management Placement- Laura Alifuoco, Lift Receptionist- Dawn Richards, Programme Manager- Nicky Petto, Eat London Placements- Lydia White and Emily Thomas, Learning Director- Tony Fegan, Learning Manager- Erica Campayne, Learning Placements- Holly Stratton and Ines Guimares, Learning Trainee with Lift and Project Phakama UK- Osman Bah, Development Director- Claire Lee, Development Manager- Paddy Chatterton, Development Co-ordinators- Rachel Borchard and Rea Mole, Development Placement- Eleanor Dragonetti, Communications Director- Margred Pryce, Marketing & Communications Manager- Sarah O'Hanlon, Marketing Assistant - Alex Robinson, Marketing Placement- Evelyn Dowling, Model-Making Placements- Hannah Armstrong, Kimberly Hu, Patrick King, Daisy MacDonald, Sateen Margaret Panagiotopoulou, Izzy Parker, Nicola Reed, Alana Revell-Rohr, Samara Scott, Anna Sikorska, Odile Taylor, Carla Thomas, Saeko Ubukata
Lift is a progressive international biennial theatre festival supported with a series of year-round trailblazing events. Recognised as one of the world's leading arts festivals, for the past 25 years Lift has been at the forefront of innovation in arts presentation. Lift forges partnerships that bring people together: writers, directors, actors, visual artists, business people, teachers, schoolchildren, and young people. It demonstrates that one person's creativity is enhanced through collaboration with another and that participation in the arts contributes to the emotional and social development of individuals and supports them in being active social citizens. For more information about their activities you can visit their website www.liftfest.org.uk.
Photographs by Tim Mitchell