Experience - Discomfort Food Café

Role - Experience Designer

Collaborator - Teagan Lehrmann

Location - McIninch Gallery at Southern New Hampshire University

Show - Discomfort Food - Curated by Deb Varat

Documentation - Elise Orlowski

Year - 2015

Comfort is defined by what soothes and eases physical well-being. What we tend to forget is that comfort is often a mental experience more than it is a physical one. 

When it comes to food we use all of our senses to enjoy what we are consuming or in some cases decide we dislike what we are eating. In Discomfort Food Café the guests are challenged to confront these underlying norms. How much does your sub-conscious drive your need for physical comfort instead of letting your curiosity introduce new tastes and forms of food?

Three stations of the café confronted three different topics around our perception of comforts. Our seaweed spaghetti station challenges guests to forgo the comfort of an eating utensil, and use their bare hands to get the seaweed to their mouths.

Our hummus station offers our guest the opportunity to experience the disconcerting intimacy of being spoon-fed.

Finally, our tea and cookies station distorts our perception of comfort through a displacement of the familiar. While we are familiar with taste and scent of Rosemary, can it still be comforting in an unexpected lukewarm tea? Can cookies still nourish our souls when we become aware that they contain insects?

No matter what culture you are from we all have expectations for food. We judge and choose our favorite foods not just by taste or what will nourish us, but also by a variety of standards set by centuries of traditions.