Memoirs of a Stomach

The lost and forgotten Victorian book written from a stomach’s point, republished with photographs of Gizzi Erskine’s gut - 2014

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Bompas & Parr has undertaken one of our most ambitious culinary odysseys yet as we put a 21st century imprint on our republication of an iconic Victorian publication.

In perhaps the ultimate antidote to glossy food magazines and highly styled images of food that we all see on a daily basis, the architectural foodsmiths and culinographers took the path less trodden in food photography circles by documenting the passage food takes from the mouth into the stomach and on to the intestines, using a medical-grade pill-cam.

Bompas & Parr partnered with food writer, pop-up Chef and Sunday Times columnist Gizzi Erskine who was brave and bold enough to swallow the pill-cam and bare her insides to the public. Gizzi swallowed the pill-cam live in front of an audience of 300 people as part of King’s College, London’s Feed your Mind festival of food and ideas in March 2014.

The results of the epic adventure are designed to contrast with the reprinting of a Victorian book, Memoirs of a Stomach, by Sydney Whitting, that dates from 1853 and documents life from the point of view of a querulous stomach. In the reprint, the images captured by the pill-cam are interspersed within facsimiles of the pages of the original publication.

Just as Memoirs of a Stomach must have cast a refreshing new light on the epicurean aspirations of the day in mid-Victorian England, so the contrast between our protagonist Mr Stomach’s ebullient views and the full-colour snapshots of Gizzi’s guts makes a dramatic statement about our appreciation and understanding of our ever-evolving relationship with food.

“This book is the culmination of an idea and obsession that’s been percolating in our studio’s collective consciousness for some time,” said Sam Bompas. “With food now among the most photographed subjects on the planet, we wanted to take a look beyond regular gastro-photography. Artfully lit shots of unctuous dishes have their place, but they only document the start of the human digestive journey.

“The idea of gut as primary focus was wonderfully explored in Memoirs of a Stomach in 1853: 150 years on, the resulting shots produced by our pill-cam re-illustrate Whitting’s mighty work with a lurid but honest insight into the glories of the human body and the dark mysteries of the digestive tract.”

Memoirs of a Stomach is published by Bompas & Parr Editions, a publishing arm of the studio founded to print food-related books, magazines and ephemera too savage, highbrow, niche, topical or provocative for conventional publishers to consider. The publishing house also focuses on making rare and out-of-print culinary masterworks accessible for food enthusiasts.

Owing to the extreme limited edition of this work, this beautiful hand-crafted hard-back book, in numbered editions signed by Sam Bompas and Harry Parr. Currently SOLD OUT