Open Call

Write | art | connect 6

Matters of Taste:
Writing and Creative Practice around Food Cultures


In a society fraught with hierarchies along the lines of caste, class, religion, and gender, how do food cultures relate to specific identities? Can food have a stake in narrating the body? Do the spaces in which we cook and eat tell us something about our communities’ beliefs and practices? What shapes the aesthetics we deploy in serving our food? And of course, in the wake of climate change, how do concerns of food shortage and sustainability guide culinary practices and discourses in the increasingly vulnerable Global South? Will the International Year of the Millets radically change what ends up on our plate?

Across cities and towns in India today, food festivals are bringing treats from all over the country, to a growing public of enthusiasts keen to learn about diverse ingredients and cuisines, traditional recipes, and cooking ephemera. This upsurge potentially testifies to an interest in provenance and food histories that go beyond restrictions rooted in the purity-pollution paradigm.

Parallelly, food is becoming a crucial focus in plenty of creative work represented at arts festivals and biennales—we at Serendipity Arts, for instance, have showcased conceptual projects as well as workshops at our 2021 Food Lab as also our regular Festival programming over the years. The Arts & Humanities Research Council in the United Kingdom too funded an initiative called ‘Forgotten Food: Culinary Memory, Local Heritage and Lost Agricultural Varieties in India’ in 2021, that sought to bring food historians, literary scholars, and agriculture scientists together to explore the origins and destinations of our food cultures creatively and rigorously. Lately, contemporary artists and practitioners have embraced various approaches to this theme—from a Sajan Mani interrogating the hegemony of vegetarianism in India through projects like ‘Bharatiya Sadhya’ and ‘Secular Meat’ to a Salma Serry whose archival work around cookbooks traces the varied culinary histories of the Arab world. How do these interventions then help us look at sociological, political, and cultural questions around culinary practices, with a fresh set of eyes?

For the upcoming edition of Write | Art| Connect, we invite thoughts and reflections on creative practices around food cultures that dwell upon larger themes of provenance, memory, community, tradition, discrimination, sustainability, domesticity, hospitality, gender, among a host of other concerns. Essays may take a particular project or artwork as a jumping-off point to interrogate specific contentions or be creative explorations in themselves, seeking to illustrate the ways in which food can intersect with the conceptual dimension of the arts.

Please submit brief outlines of no more than 200 words for a proposed essay to [email protected] with the subject line “matters of taste: pitch” latest by April 15, 2023.

  • Final selection of proposals will be made by May 15, 2023.
  • If your abstract is selected, we would require an essay of no more than 1,200 words.
  • We would encourage you to include images, audio, or video links with your essay.
  • Kindly do clear the necessary permissions if and where required.
  • We will offer a fee of INR 6,000/- for your essay.