Art Cooking: Futurist Meat Sculpture | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

Art Cooking: Futurist Meat Sculpture | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios

WOMAN: Throughout
history, food has served as subject matter,
inspiration, and, of course, sustenance for artists,
but food has also been the art on a
number of occasions. Today we’re going to talk
about one such occasion, and we’re going to try
to make it for you, too. Today we’re
attempting two recipes from the “Futurist Cookbook,”
originally published in Italian in 1932. The Futurists were careful
not to call them recipes, though, because
that’s a French word, and they were after a wholly
Italian way of eating, so we’re going to be trying
two of their formulas. First is sculpted meat, which is
composed of a large cylindrical rissole of minced veal stuffed
with 11 different kinds of cooked vegetables . This cylinder standing upright
in the middle of the plate is crowned with a
thick layer of honey and supported at the
bottom by a sausage ring, which rests on three
golden spheres of chicken meat. Second, like a cloud– a great mound of whipped cream
streaked with orange juice, mint, strawberry jam,
and sprinkled lightly with Asti spumante. Yeah, these are going to need
some back story, which I’ll share with you in due
course, but the first step in making a meat sculpture is,
of course, acquiring some meat. From what I could tell, a
rissole is a sort of meat patty, so I added a couple eggs
to three pounds of ground veal, mixed in half a
cup of breadcrumbs, soaked in half a cup of milk,
a little salt and pepper, and that made our solid
substance for our cylinder. You’ll be surprised to learn
that the Futurists were obsessed with– that’s
right– the future, and when the movement
was founded in 1999, the future meant all
things technological, automated, and
fast, so I presume this cylinder we’re
rolling out here is referencing their celebration
of industrialization. And into our
cylinder will go what they describe as a quote
“synthetic interpretation of the orchards, gardens,
and pastures of Italy.” Let’s make sure we have 11
different kinds of vegetables here– 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,
7, 8, 9, 10, 11. Yep, got them. All of these I
prepped beforehand by either roasting or
quickly parboiling them and letting them cool. We’re going to place
some of each of them into the center
of our meat slab, kind of like we’re making a
giant horrifying sushi roll. Having another set of
hands is helpful here, as you pinch together
the two sides of the slab and say a little prayer
in Italian, of course, that it stays together. We were a little concerned
this guy wouldn’t hold, so he strayed from
the recipe and decided to wrap this thing
in caul fat, usually used for tureens and
the like, and it’s the lacy membrane of
fat that surrounds a cow’s internal organs. Smells as good as
it looks, guys. With that in place,
we took our meat baby and carefully transferred
it to a baking rack, supporting it on either side
with logs of crushed aluminum foil. Then you give it a
little pat for good luck and send it on its way
to a 400 degree oven. So while that’s roasting, let’s
get our supporting meats going. We’ll put our sausages into some
water and bring it to a boil. Then on to our golden
spheres of chicken meat, which I’m interpreting
as giant chicken meat balls. Before the cameras
were rolling, I added an egg, some
breadcrumbs, and seasoning to two pounds of ground chicken. Dividing this into only three
meatballs seemed unwise, so we made an extra
for good measure and rolled each in
some panko bread crumbs before dropping them into
some hot canola oil to fry. Got to get them golden. So while these are frying, let’s
have a little Futurist story time starring the movement’s
fearless leader, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti. The Futurists were an
audacious and vocal group of writers and artists
frustrated by what they saw as Italy’s decline. They advocated aggressively
for dismissing the past, embracing speed, and
dynamism, and all things new like airplanes, cars,
technology, and unfortunately, violence and war. World War I claimed the
lives of many members, but Marinetti
survived and put out a manifesto of Futurist
cookery in 1930 and the full cookbook a
couple of years later. The Futurists wanted to
transform every aspect of life, and cooking was something that
touched the lives of everybody. Their manifesto
caused an uproar, mostly because getting rid
of the past for Marinetti meant getting rid of pasta. He saw Italians as being
weighed down by this heavy food and included the opinions
of doctors and professors to claim that pasta induces
lethargy, pessimism, nostalgia, and neutralism. Marinetti was also a friend
of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who wanted to
relieve Italy of its dependence on foreign markets. Pasta required
imported wheat, so they believed the food of the future
was homegrown rice, which would create a country of
quote “life agile peoples, who will be victorious in the
likely event of future wars.” Much of this was pseudo
science, but they were right about the coming war. Anyway, giant meat
sculptures like the one we’re making were to be part of
this new Italian way of eating, and now that our meatballs
are nice and golden, let’s pull them out. And seeing that our sausages,
while fully cooked are sad and looking gray,
let’s give them a little dunk in the hot oil. Why not? It’s worth mentioning that
Marinetti prefaced the formulas with a note saying that the
vague quantities given should stimulate the imagination
of Futurist cooks and may lead to
fortuitous new dishes. So you should also feel
free to improvise when you make your meat sculpture. We pulled those out when
they’re nice and browned, and since our meat baby still
needs more time in the oven, we’ll go ahead and
get dessert going. So this cloud we’re making
is of whipped cream, and they call for a
great mound of it, so I’m just going to whip up two
cartons of heavy whipping cream in my stand mixer. You can do this by hand
with a bowl and whisk. It’s just going to
take you longer. So like a cloud is really
an outgrowth of the Futurist obsession with air travel– calling themselves arrow
painters and arrow poets, and including lots
of airplane imagery and even sounds in their
cookery and banquets. By the way, I added a
splash of vanilla extract and a little bit of
confectioners sugar just to make it extra tasty,
just like real clouds. When it forms stiff peaks,
pour it out onto a platter until you’re satisfied with
the size of your great mound. To it we’ll add the
called for orange juice, streaks of strawberry jam, and
a handful of fresh mint leaves. Then you’re going to open up
your bottle of Asti spumante. Quick bubbly opening
lesson here– the technique I like is
to take a kitchen towel, cover the cork with it, and
twist the bottle while holding the cork in place. Then you sprinkle a little of
that over your cloud and buon appetito. Now call your team into
the room and invite them to dig in, but remember
an important Futurist dining rule, which is to avoid utensils
and enjoy the tactile pleasure of eating with your hands. Because there was much more to
Futurist eating than the food alone, they sought
absolute originality not only in the food itself,
but in its presentation, accompanying some dishes
with perfumes propelled around the table with
electric fans, intervals of dramatic music between
meals, and sometimes even the sound of an airplane
motor coming from the kitchen. Beyond providing
nourishment, food was to make life more joyful,
spiritual, and dynamic. Anyway, now that dessert
is out of the way, let’s get to the main event. Our cylinder is finally
browned, and we’re ready to assemble the sculpture. Onto the platter go three of our
golden spheres of chicken meat, and on top of that, we try
to figure out a way for it to be a ring of sausages
as the formula calls for, but we decide to
amend it a little and make it a raft
of sausages instead. Those are vehicles
of the future, right? To give this thing its best
chance of standing upright, we’ve decided to support
our sausage wrapped with bamboo skewers, and then
we place it atop the spheres. Now comes the big moment where
we tip up the meat cylinder, breathe a sigh of relief
that it stays together, and place it gingerly
atop the raft. There’s no way this thing
is going to hold together without a little assistance, so
in go more skewers at varying angles until we feel structural
integrity has been achieved. And then we step away to
marvel at our, um, achievement? Now’s as good a time
as any to tell you that the Futurists wanted to
promote good digestion as well as quote “bring about that
playful and virile state of mind indispensable
after lunch and at night.” These meals were to be quote
“provocative and evocative,” and at that I have to say
they are utterly successful. This is imagery and symbolism
that transcends time and place. And, oh, shoot. We forgot the honey. OK, so no one– not
even Marinetti– thought Italians were
going to start making meat sculptures for every meal. What Futurists were after– overlooking the heavy
fascist implications of a lot of their messaging–
was unbridled optimism and an eagerness to upend
tradition by reimagining an aspect of life that
is part of all human– or at least Italian
human– experience. So come on, everybody, mangia. The “Art Assignment” is funded
in part by viewers like you through, a
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100 thoughts on “Art Cooking: Futurist Meat Sculpture | The Art Assignment | PBS Digital Studios”

  1. I watched this video yesterday. Then this morning I was reading My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith. In chapter 8, two characters briefly discuss Futurism. Thanks to the video, I understood what they were talking about! Otherwise, I would have just been like, huh?

  2. It would be super cool to hear you touch upon architecture at some point. I know it might be considered somewhat outside of the "art" sphere, but many art movements have direct analogies in architecture, such as suprematism, deconstructivism and even cubism, not to mention some of the theoretical works that deal with the "image" of architecture, and the visuality of buildings. I am thinking of Adolf Loos, for example, and his views on ornament in architecture. Keep it up, I love these videos!

  3. I love cooking and food, and despite (or because of?) the fact that I'm rather horrified by the prospect of eating the meat sculpture, this was a ton of fun to watch. And I would totally eat the cloud. 😉

  4. It would only make sense that a futuristic meal proposed by a bunch of macho men who are obsessed with violence and cars be an edible phallic sculpture made of meat.

  5. waaah I truly love your content!! love this I hope this can be translated into other things. I really didn't know food was also used as a medium for art. gaah

  6. The piece in question is curious in its grotesqueness(??) if I saw this on an art gallery I'd probably think that the author meant it to be kinda hard to look at and catch attention due to that
    Besides its artistic, Ehm, qualities, I can't separate it from it's authors political views and that, ironically, despite fascist frowning at homosexuality they're the ones making huge meat penises for lunch

  7. How did you manage to cook the chicken meatballs all the way through without turning the outsides black? I can barely cook regular-sized ones.

  8. Italians getting rid of pasta but instead start eating a giant meat crafted penis sculptures for Mussolini and the health and prosperity of all Italians and being victorious in future wars?
    must be one of the weirder videos I saw today lol

  9. I like how pasta would induce lethargy, but not the breaded meatball, sausage, and veal tower. This is the best.

  10. Having read some of the Futurist Cookbook in school years ago, this is one of the most excellent videos! Thank you SO MUCH!!

  11. The playlist plays backwards so I kept seeing references to the meat sculpture before I made it to this one lol- the anticipation made it better I think

  12. I love the way the video ties in the way that meals developed int eh time with a movement that was revenant as well during the time. I tried making the meatballs with sausage marinated in the meatball leftovers and i must say, it came out quite good. Thumbs up to this video.

  13. When ever I feel nihilistic , I will always return to this video.
    The more times I watch it, the more ridiculous and surreal I find it.
    Your droll presentation, ( tinged with disapproval) the philosophy of futurism, the adventures in symbolism all tied in with your incredible dry wit; ( the upbeat music at the end)
    I find it absolutely hilarious.
    It makes me laugh at the absurdity of it all and lets me review the world in a new light.

  14. 8:08 okay yeah I mean I get it buuuut that looks like a penis.
    If I go to someone's house and that's on the table I'm just going to leave.

  15. It does look delicious and decadent. Enjoy meat while you still can. Some of us have lost our taste for it, and so will you probably. That's a possible future.

  16. Meat is gross enough but the use of veal is horrific and sinful. And to her it seems like a walk in the park. Let's see how long until this comment is removed.

  17. A fitting tribute to one of the dumbest ideologies I've ever heard of.


    I think they all had micropenis. To a man.

  18. if you say "everybody" you have to say "mangiate" cause it's plural…Lol, i love how anglo-saxon shows always fail and i repeat ALWAYS fail in pronouncing italian words XD

  19. … Leonardo da Vinci, I don’t think he ate meat, are there any records of his recipes??? I wanna see some OLD vegetarian recipes!

  20. So many vegetarians saying this dish horrifies them, but i eat plenty of meat and i also find this gross and excessive
    Also excessively phallic

    eh hem
    okay it’s out of my system now sorry

    (tbh the whipped cream stuff is kinda nasty too)


    (((I love art it’s so dumb sometimes, in such amazing ways)))

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