Complete History of Food

An edible epic so grand, so magnificent, and so vast, it spanned 730 years - Belgrave Square, London, July 2010

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The Complete History of Food 
Belgrave Square, July 2010

An edible epic so grand, so magnificent, and so vast, it spanned 730 years.

With a walk-through immersive dining experience and multi-course meal ambitiously charting key periods in food history, visitors traveled through time eating and drinking food from London's top restaurants. Food eras covered included Medieval, Renaissance, Victorian and the contemporary scene. The installation included a flooded dining-room with live eels in the water, a recreation of the 1853 Iguanodon Dinner, meat Ferrero Rocher and the world's first bio-responsive food – a jelly that pulsated and changed colour in response to your heartbeat.

This installation was intended for all those looking to take their first steps into a strange and fascinating field: the realm of food history. 

Food has a good claim to be the world’s most important subject. Alongside sex and shelter it is absolutely essential to human existence. Most people, however, could happily survive for a time without a roof or reproducing. Not so without food.

The Complete History of Food took the form of an experiential meal, charting some of the most interesting, revolutionary and important moments in food history. 35 Belgrave Square’s rising storeys chronologically represented the changes in beliefs, philosophy and fashions relating to food from the Middle Ages to 2010. The courses of the meal were represented by stops along a journey through the building allowing insight into the past and showcasing the ideas that have shaped 21st Century cuisine.

The Complete History of Food was by no means an exhaustive account of global culinary practice. Instead it offered a taste of revolutionary culinary thinking from the past and traced a line to London’s best food today. Top chefs and mixologists offer interpretations of important moments in culinary history and show how the ancient attitudes of our forefathers still prevail. Through this extraordinary meal, it was possible to travel through the revivals, innovations and revolutions which have brought food to where it is today.

Collaborative gustatory partners included Alexis Gauthier, Bistrotheque, Paul Tvaroh, Saf and Joe McCanta. Featured art directors included Anna Lomax, Lightning and Kinglyface,  Footpint Scenery and Lucy Butler.

Photography by Beth Evans, Ann Charlott Ommedal and Dan Price.