Words by: Trilokesh Chanmugam
Located in the Cultural Centre on James street, Gastronomical! was a free night time event – part of the Perth Science Festival and National Science Week.
While the daytime events drew in the fertile minds of WA’s youth, Gastronomical! sought to attract Perth’s adult population using a tried and tested method: the mention of beer. They promised the winning combination of science, entertainment, and free tastings, but delivered on only two out of the three.
I surprised nobody by spending a rare saturday night out in Northbridge sitting in front of the stage next to PICA bar waiting to learn some cool science facts. I left feeling decidedly unlearned. Nonetheless, some great food and entertainment made it feel like a night well spent.
Shows on the main stage kicked off with Chloe and Kelly from ‘My Kitchen Rules’ demonstrating the importance of smell in food (blindfolded and peg-nosed audience volunteers chowed down on lollies and tried to guess the flavour), and were followed up by Costa Georgiadis from ‘Gardening Australia’ who explained the value of growing and eating fresh produce. “Eat life,” Costa told the audience whilst brandishing a bushel of Kale. “Eat living things.” He handed out fresh mint leaves and said “mint grows like a mongrel.” He shook a many toed turnip and told people that they shouldn’t be afraid to eat unshapely vegetables.
8 o’clock saw ‘the fermented fashion show’ take to the stage – perhaps the most anticipated event of the night. A dress made out of wine? A dress made out of beer? What? They weren’t actually as bizarre as you might expect. The fabrics were made from a bacterial fermentation process which left the designers with an unusual material to work with. Although the wine-dress was tough, streaked and mottled like reddish brown alien skin, the beer-dress almost had the texture of cotton. And since the fabrics were made from a waste product of beer/wine making, they presented a sustainable alternative to the water intensive industry of cotton production.
Oh yeah there was also a coconut water dress.
Next up was ‘MoTet’, the space themed trio of technomages, who took to the stage and played a weird and wonderful set until 10pm. Then ‘The house of Pyro’ ended the night with a spectacular lightshow. Think fire twirling, flaming hula hoops and poi spinning.
There was also a tent set up which contained a serious variety of vendors, and they bought some of the science back into the Perth Science Festival. Whipper Snapper Distillery was making moonshine + hot apple cocktails and educating drinkers about the fermentation process; there was a team of chocolatiers which made high quality chocolate with unusual flavours, including blue-cheese and vegemite; and there was a stand dedicated to teaching how to cook the perfect steak.
I was surprised to learn that the word ‘Gastronomical’ does not relate to digestive systems. Instead, it simply means ‘the science or art of good eating’. I bought ‘Indian Nachos’ from a food truck there and they were so unexpectedly amazing that it made the whole night worthwhile. I guess that qualifies as science.