March 10, 2006

Macaroni and Cheese & Pastitsio

Interview with Keith Campbell

Interview with Nick Soutzoglou

Performance Photos

So today was the Last Supper and was fittingly filled with friends and lively discussion. I was a bit saddened for this project to come to an end at GASP, but have been really pleased with how everything turned out and am happy that it will continue here on the web as well as in the music. Maybe someday I'll release a Variations EP!

These projects always seem to be part of an overall progression within my life rather than feeling like something with defined edges. Variations is no different for me in that sense. I will be moving on to new projects and am excited to experiment more, but this piece will remain with me as an influence without a doubt. It's like each thing I work on is a bridge somehow. A bridge in my own life between what I was doing before and what I end up doing after; a bridge between myself and the new people I have met, and a bridge from my comfort zone to a place which was far less comfortable just two months ago.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this project by donating their voice and words, by visiting the gallery and eating the food, or simply by visiting this website. From the start Leah and I wanted to create something that would bring people together. So let's keep it up by cooking the recipes on this site at home and by listening to the music again.

Don't go hungry...

Posted by halsey at 09:03 PM | Comments (3)

March 09, 2006

Roasted Peanut Honey Bread &
Banana Pancakes with Banana Carmel Syrup

Interview with Robert Dworkin

Interview with Sam Jordan

Performance Photos

The GASP interns have a little calling network set up now amongst themselves. When I arrive for a performance they contact each other about what recipe is being made, and when the food is going to be ready so they can swing by. College students away from home especially love home cooked meals. This lovely group of undergraduates from the Museum School, MassArt, and BU have been such a big help to us, and I’ve enjoyed working with, and getting to know each one over the dinner table. Thanks everyone!

I think of pancakes for some reason as a guilty pleasure. They are so easy to make, and so delicious, yet the only time I seem to eat them are on what has become the all too rare lazy Sunday morning--either at a restaurant, or at home, while reading the newspaper in bed, and sipping tea. So making them on this cold, rainy, hectic afternoon was warm and comforting. These hot little cakes fresh off of the grill smothered in buttery banana caramel syrup will make you want to forget your worries and your obligations. A visitor to the gallery on her lunch hour and I were so caught up in eating, and in our lively conversation, she almost forgot to go back to work! Maybe pancakes are magic? I believe…

Posted by leah at 09:07 PM | Comments (0)

March 04, 2006

Tofu with Jamaican Spicy Yellow Curry &
Guava Cheese Flan

Interview with Jeanette Adames

Interview with Dana Foster

Performance Photos

The first thing my friend, and artist extrordinare, Andrea noticed when she walked in was art reflected in the glossy caramel glaze of flan. Take a look at the photos she took, they are really beautiful.

Wordnet of Princeton University offers these definitions of the word refection:

n 1: a calm lengthy intent consideration 2: the phenomenon of a propagating wave (light or sound) being thrown back from a surface 3: expression without words; "tears are an expression of grief"; "the pulse is a reflection of the heart's condition" 4: the image of something as reflected by a mirror (or other reflective material); "he studied his reflection in the mirror" 5: a likeness in which left and right are reversed 6: (mathematics) a transformation in which the direction of one axis is reversed 7: a remark expressing careful consideration 8: the ability to reflect beams or rays

Upon further consideration of art and reflection and flan, I did some poking around on the Internet and found this quote.

"...On the one hand, the work of art is a product of its time, a mirror of its age, a historical reflection of society to which both the author and the original audience belonged. On the other hand, it is surely no idealism to assume that the work of art is not merely a product, but a producer of its age; not merely a mirror of the past but a lamp to the future.." - Karthigesu Sivathamby in Literary History in Tamil

These days I've been thinking of my work in terms of poetic resistance. Resistance is a force that tends to oppose or retard motion. In electrical terminology it is the opposition of a body or substance to current passing through it, resulting in a change of electrical energy into heat or another form of energy. So perhaps resistance makes the time for reflection and the resulting change of energy into art is the production. Ok, before I get too lost in my head, back to the food. The flan was out of this world, although I could not find guava paste in the city of Boston. This does not mean it doesn’t exist, just that I couldn’t find it. There are lots Internet sources for it though. And the spicy Jamaican curry was a wonderful combination of flavors-- the color was pretty too.

Posted by leah at 09:04 PM | Comments (1)

March 03, 2006

Spice Cake with Pink Applesauce Filling

Interview with Catherine Cavanaugh

Performance Photos

It is freezing cold outside today, and the heat is out so it's just as cold in the gallery. The interns are all huddled in the back office around the space heater, and we’re trying to stay warm around the hearth of a toaster oven, making apple spice cake. Due to numb fingers, we skipped the applesauce. But I did make it at home the next day and it was delicious—there is nothing like homemade applesauce. The cake was yummy--full of molasses, ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon with topped with whipped cream frosting, but would have been even yummier with a layer of applesauce. After the performance I took a piece of cake over to the proprietor of Cafe Society, a wonderful vintage clothing shop ( located at 131 Cypress St, Brookline, MA 02445-6014) I have been passing by on my way from the T to the gallery every day since this performance began. I finally stopped in yesterday. While I tried on clothes, she and I chatted about food (of course), and art, and discovered we have folks in common at the Museum School. It’s such a small world really. The act of taking cake to someone who couldn’t attend the performance because she to mind her store, started me thinking about an iiteration of Variations beyond the gallery space to reach other folks who aren’t able to, or wouldn’t normally go to see art in a gallery or museum. But that is an idea for another time.

Posted by leah at 09:06 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2006

Lemon Meringue Pie

Interview with Carrie Benjamin

Performance Photos

Lemon meringue pie is not something I would normally pick off of a dessert menu, especially if there are other chocolately options available. But I realized after tasting one made from scratch, that I’ve never experienced a good one! The lemon pies of my past, were store-bought, or frozen, with tasteless crust, neon yellow filling (glowing with artificial colorings) and spongy (as in used for house cleaning) meringue topping. I’m a changed woman. This recipe creates a dessert with a buttery flaky crust, smooth and tangy lemon custard and a light, airy meringue that is just wonderful.

Carrie Benjamin, who was the inspiration for this recipe, couldn’t attend the performance because she broke her arm snowboarding the day before. I hope I did her proud, and hope she is on the mend. I missed her today. She was one of my students from my Tufts Introduction to Web Design class, as were several other of our interviewees. The great thing about teaching is that I have the honor and priviledge of sharing time and energy with some amazing people. And the sucky thing about teaching is that after this incredibly intense exchange of ideas, knowledge, and creativity it abruptly ends after the last class--which is really hard. But I believe that we become a part of each other during these shared moments, and even if we don’t ever cross paths again, we have still been forever changed by the knowing.

Posted by leah at 09:05 PM | Comments (1)

February 24, 2006

Green Salad with Apple Dressing and Camembert Toasts &
Crepes with Fresh Strawberry Marmalade and Marcapone Cream

Interview with Ben Eskinazi

Interview with Guillaume Charras

Performance Photos

Cooking and talking on the phone just don’t mix, at least not for me anyway. I’m an ok multi-tasker when I have to be, but immersive concerns such as learning a new recipe, or having a conversation with a dear friend, really need undivided attention. Despite this knowledge, I picked up a ringing phone while preparing crepe batter, and I paid the price. I think I did ok by my friend, but forgot the eggs in the crepe recipe, and they turned out like heavy little pancakes. They tasted fine, especially all slathered up in strawberry marmalade and sweet cheese, but weren’t at all what I intended. Sorry Ben! But people seemed to enjoy them anyway along with that simple but tasty green salad, and delicious cheese. Openings are stressful for me, even though they end up being more about socializing than art. A tightly packed gallery doesn't leave much space to breathe anything in too deeply, but the artist is still essentially on display. It’s always challenging to put work out into the world, as it means exposing a good-sized piece of my heart in the process. So these events are always easier when there are friendly and supportive faces in the crowd. Thanks to everyone who braved the wicked cold to join us this evening. I hope a good time was had by all.

Posted by leah at 09:02 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2006

Blueberry Boy Bait

Interview with Robin Morgan

Performance Photos

My performance has become a comforting ritual. Upon arrival, I make tea for myself and the interns, set-up the equipment, turn on Halsey’s music, and begin cooking. Halsey’s composition is comprised of voices and stories of all the folks we interviewed woven together with a masterful arrangement of music, around various aspects of food. It’s the theme song to our cooking show. I think I’ve listened to the powerful 30 minute piece at least 60 times by now, and with each instance I discover something new and wonderful. I love how this music has created a community of voices.

A number of people have mentioned to me that they have spent time at our table specifically to focus on the music, and they were moved by what they heard. Art needs our time and concentration to reach deep inside of us. Museums and galleries often don’t provide contemplative space, and we are often rushed through exhibitions too fast to absorb the creative energy on display before us. I’m pleased that the “kitchen” table and chairs of our set provided not just a gathering place to eat food, but also served as a site for reflection. Luckily, you can listen to Variations on the Theme of Food, any time in the privacy of your very own homes, and to hear more amazing music created by my incredibly talented better half on this project, please visit Oh yeah, the blueberry boybait, was HEAVENLY. Make some for yourself on a cold winter Sunday morning…and eat it in all snuggled up in your cozy warm bed.

Posted by leah at 09:01 PM | Comments (1)

February 18, 2006

Spicy Vegetarian Chili and Corn Bread with Golden Raisins &
Cantaloupe Sorbet with Melon Confetti Compote

Interview with Darcy Burgund

Interview with Jim Venable

Performance Photos

I am not an actively social person, I will admit. I hardly ever strike up conversations with strangers, despite loving to talk to new people about pretty much anything. And the last place I would typically start talking to someone is in the middle of an art gallery. Nonetheless, I suppose this is what Leah and I are trying to encourage.

This particular performance was a wonderful example of a bit of success we had in this arena. There were something like a dozen people who were in the gallery this day, few of whom knew each other, yet we all sat down to eat some of the most delicious chili and cornbread ever created and ended up talking about everything from punk-singing parrots to various conspiracy theories regarding Texas lawyer-hunting. I came away from the performance marveling in the undisputable fact that had I been in the gallery under 'normal' circumstances - just there to view art hanging on walls and standing on the floor - I never would have met these interesting people. I would have kept to myself, looked at the art and left. End of story.

I wanted to share with you comments of one other participant that were made on the "Cheap Thrills - Boston" email list, as less-biased opinions are always a nice thing to have! Thanks, Rob.

"I was expecting a rigid, intellectual, stereotypically 'arty' performance with food -- like a cooking demonstration from Yoko Ono. It was much warmer, more pleasant (and delicious) experience. As part of an exhibit called 'Thread Counts Project', the most compelling piece comes alive every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoon. Leah Gauthier and Halsey Burgund have created a multi-media experience about food being a common thread among people, and how people come together through food. The artists actually cook 2 dishes for you while you listen to music composed for the piece. Amazing and -- again -- delicious; it's a small gallery, but there are several interesting pieces to give some time to. In the end, I walked out feeling like I was part of the 'performance', but that was cool... "

Posted by halsey at 09:00 PM | Comments (4)

February 17, 2006

Double Peanut Double Chocolate Chip Cookies &
Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream

Interview with Barbara Spiegelman

Interview with David Spiegelman

Performance Photos

I am freezerless. So when I arranged this menu, I was counting on the bitter chill of a New England winter night to provide the ice for my ice cream. But today was unseasonably warm, and the dessert failed. This morning I noticed a forsythia bush in bloom, a sight that normally brings spring to my heart instead caused distress. It’s too soon. The trees are confused, and I feel confused by the strange weather too. When I arrived at the gallery it was 50 degrees and cloudy. By the time I popped the first batch of cookies into the oven 30 minutes later, a torrential rain storm hit, followed immediately by a wash of sunshine, and a sharp drop in temperature back well below freezing. I felt like I was inside of a climate machine gone amuck. I fear the damage we are causing this planet is driving nature to the breaking point.

The combination of chocolate and peanut butter is one of my favorites, but the cookies were a bit dry. I realized that I always buy natural peanut butter and drain off of the oil as I don’t like the mess of stirring it in. So either don’t use natural peanut butter, or keep the oil in, and the recipe should be fine. Halsey has a trick to turn the jar upside down in the pantry for a week before opening to let the oil incorporate itself back in. I just tried this for myself and it works beautifully.

Posted by leah at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2006

Leek, Potato, and Tarragon Soup &
Asparagus Soup with Parmesan Custards

Interview with Miranda Pearce

Interview with Martin Schmaltz

Performance Photos

"making love is not just becoming as one, or even two, but becoming as a hundred thousand." Deleuze and Guattari, The Anti-Oedipus

What does this have to do with soup? Maybe nothing, maybe everything-- but my Death of Painting class, guests of our performance today, has spent the last number of weeks deconstructing portions of The Anti-Oedipus and relating it back to our art practices. This material is dense, but fascinating. Deleuze and Guattari discuss desire specifically as a creative force rather than a lack which compels us to consume.

Today my desire was to make two kinds of delicious soup, asparagus and potato leek, and to share it with my classmates. Cooking to me is definitely a creative act, and an art form. Just like painting, sculpture or cinema, soup has compositional elements such as color, form, texture, and in addition, taste. And striking an aesthetic balance of these "ingredients" requires some mastery of process and materials. Anyway, we had a pleasant and relaxed afternoon. I heard stories of Grandmother’s stuffed tomatoes, and Hungarian goulash made as a last meal for a dying man, who relinquished life before he was able to enjoy it. Sincere thanks to Ron Rizzi for your support of our work, for listening to Halsey’s music with great care and attention, and for re-locating our class session to the gallery so we could enjoy the art of soup, and the company of one another. Did my potato leek soup rival the Mona Lisa? I suppose it all depends on what you hunger for. Too bad Leonardo wasn’t around to lend his opinion.

Posted by leah at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2006

Vegetable Samosa with Green Chutney & Aloo Pulao

Interview with Amitabh Handa

Interview with Sashi Uhlmann

Performance Photos

Three of my worlds (Maine, The Museum School & MIT) collided over samosa and pulao today. It was wonderful to have so many friendly faces around the table—I’m grateful. I enjoy introducing my friends to each other, mostly because they are all really cool and interesting people, and good energy is better shared. Happily, everyone seemed to enjoy each other, Halsey's music, and the food.

I have been completely head down since moving to Boston for graduate school a year and a half ago. Between classes, teaching, art making, and earning a living, there has been precious little time for socializing, yet the amazing thing is despite lack of conscious effort, roots have grown anyway. I’ve formed supportive relationships here, and find myself a member of various communities just by virtue of where, and with whom, I’ve consistently placed my energy. A big reason for our decision to do so many performances, beyond the desire to honor each one of our interviewees, was to find out if the same thing would happen with our work, over time, in this space.

A note about the food - Indian food has been tricky for me for some reason in the past. My efforts have always tasted good, but never turned out as well as what I’m served in a restaurant. However, I learned that making a paste with the spices before adding them to the dish, and providing a few different kinds chutneys for further layering of flavors made all of the difference. Also, I decided at the last minute not to deep fry in the gallery, since the space is so small, and replaced the samosa recipe that appears on this site with Molly Katzen’s baked samosa recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook. They were a big hit! Thanks everybody for a wonderful afternoon!

Posted by leah at 08:56 PM | Comments (6)

February 10, 2006

Fresh Blueberry Pie with Cinnamon Almond Crust

Variation E

Performance Photos

Blueberry pie will forever be held in the lore of the Burgund family due to the debatably innocent, but certainly hilarious, behavior of my sister way back in the late 1970s. You’ll have to listen to Variation E to hear the full story, but suffice it to say that if you are at all susceptible to the humor that unintentionally lies in kid’s behavior, you will enjoy it. To this day, no one can so much as mention blueberry pie without me getting a grin on my face. It think this is what is so amazing about the experience of food together as a family. Nightly dinners together as a group, shared likes and dislikes, incessant complaints about culinary skill, you name it, all provide a pretty amazing glue in a family, I think.

In my case, the blueberry pie story will always reign supreme, but what I learned by interviewing people for this piece, was that most families have their own blueberry pie. It might not be funny; it might be serious, mundane or even scary, but it seems that there is something about the rote activites of survival that when done habitually as a group effect people deeply.

I'm hoping that my sister forgives me for publicizing her evil-doings!

Posted by halsey at 08:55 PM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2006


Interview with Katheen Miranda

Performance Photos

It is bitter cold outside and cold in the gallery today too, a perfect day to make soup. This dish is comprised of humble ingredients, noodles, broth, mushrooms, cabbage and carrots, and it is delicious. Another artist in the show, Jae ate with us at the table today. She commented after tasting, that Pancit is similar to Pho, a Vietnamese noodle dish. I wonder where in culinary history those two dishes connect. We are both doing some work at the intersection of art and science, using live plants as a means of investigation. We discussed hydroponics, book sources and names of scientists we’ve corresponded with, and expressed a desire to further our discussion at a later date. We also talked about how we both enjoy cooking and how important nesting, or making a home has become to both of us, in spite of the transitory life of graduate students, and uncertainty of what lies ahead.

Posted by leah at 07:04 AM | Comments (1)

February 04, 2006

Bittersweet Molten Chocolate Cakes with Coffee Ice Cream

Interview with Susie Reid

Performance Photos

I haven’t made ice cream in a long while and forgot about the necessity to re-freeze after the initial mixing, so it was a little slushy. But the rich, hot chocolate cakes fresh out of the oven, topped with cold coffee ice cream was pure pleasure. Today one of the other Artists in the show, and an intern of GASP who was a student of Nancy’s, sat at the table, and we discussed art and politics over tea and dessert. We discovered good friends and a shared cultural heritage in common. The three of us all felt our time together, and that amazing chocolate dessert, was restorative. Nancy expressed the desire have more art like this to remind folks to slow down, and be present in the moment.

It’s easy to forget sometimes that all of us have a lifetime lived of experiences stored up inside of us. And it takes making time and space to learn more about each other. I was thinking about our food interviews. Some of the folks who participated were my co-workers with whom I worked 3-4 times a week, 8 hours a day, for seven months. As they spoke we found out things about them I wouldn't probably have ever known had it not been for this work. The stories they shared with Halsey and I were treasured memories. A huge gift in exchange for a little bit of our time and attention.

Posted by leah at 08:51 PM | Comments (2)

February 03, 2006

Potato Piroshki & Steamed Garlic Chive and Shiitake
Dumplings with Lemongrass Dipping Sauce

Interview with Sasha Ivanov

Interview with Jason Wang

Performance Photos

Late last year I assisted New York Artists Mary Ellen Carroll and Donna Wingate with the Boston leg of their art project Itinerant Gastronomy. Their motto is “Living well is it’s own reward, and any relationship, whether with a person or a root vegetable, should have the time to develop properly.” On the construction site of the new ICA building, we cooked a multi-course gourmet meal for a number of prominent Boston guests, and it was a wonderful experience. It reminded me that making and eating food binds us together as we share the happenings of our lives, and pass along our culture and traditions over the dinner table. Cooking is nurturing, life affirming, and pleases all of the senses. It’s been a passion of mine since I was 10 years old, so it made perfect sense with this installation, an investigation into food, to cook.

I love neighborhood ethnic grocery stores as they are usually still family run, manageable in size, and a world of discovery. For the dumpling ingredients I shopped at Mirim Oriental Groceries at 152 Harvard Ave in Allston. It’s a small, but well stocked shop where you can find spices, sauces, dried goods, fresh produce and frozen foods. I’ve never made dumplings before, but since most of my previous works involved making multiples, I thought this was a befitting activity to begin Variations on the Theme of Food, and took comfort in the repetition and process.

I arrived to the gallery early, poured myself a cup of tea and watched the traffic speeding by through the front window. Where are we all going so fast? I wondered how difficult it would be to get people to sit down at the table, and take time to enjoy some good food and conversation.

Our first guests were all in the midst of their busy work day, and GASP was perfumed with the scent of garlic and ginger. No one had eaten a homemade piroshki before, and they were a treat. Everyone was multi-tasking, and running to meetings or appointments. So lunch was pretty brief and talk around the table included, convenience foods, and how delicious some of them are. Just open a package,throw it in the microwave, and in a few minutes you have dinner. I do that too sometimes of course, but after I’ve eaten a boxed meal, my stomach is full, but my soul remains hungry for something more.

Posted by leah at 08:43 PM | Comments (2)