‘Curating Togetherness’ – Food Happening @ Hales with Mouth London

The Conversation
We were excited to welcome hot new food collective Mouth London to Hales Hall & The Great Barn this month. Led by ‘the food philosopher’ Marwan Badran and his team, our guests took part in a weekend-long ‘food performance’.

What exactly is that we hear you ask? Well, let us explain. It’s a totally immersive, creative experience that involves learning about and participating in the planning, sourcing, cooking and eating of great food in a group environment.

Marwan says: ‘What Mouth London seeks to share is the ritualistic process of making food, which stems from our hunter-gatherer origins. From the sourcing of the ingredients to the ‘durational performance’ of preparing the meal.’

We are not only “what we eat” – as prescribed by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the French gastronome and original food philosopher. We are more “how we prepare & eat”, according to Marwan and most 21st century food thinkers.

‘These food happenings tap into our tribal instincts and help us create strategies so the group can the survive and thrive together,’ Marwan adds.

The diverse culinary experience of the tribe is brought together under Marwan’s leadership. Having dedicated a life-time to cooking, eating, investigating and celebrating food culture, he directs the group to create spectacular dishes and in so doing to bond.

He says: ‘The ‘taste’ of the tribe evolves as they work together and starts to embody a shared sense of responsibility about issues such as sustainability, health, beliefs or whatever else is of interest to the group members.’

The Happening
Once the group was assembled we started by looking at what our many wonderful local growers and producers had in season. And, of course, at the bounty of our own kitchen gardens.

Marwan created the menu and we set off harvesting and shopping. Having mapped our route – from nearby dairy farm to vineyard to fishmonger to ‘pick your own’ strawberry fields – we soon had all the freshest ingredients and were ready to cook.

Arriving back at Hales we “intuitively” created our mouth-watering menu, based on our ‘finds’. Everyone participated in this practise-based creative workshop, whether with skills or simply with story telling. Some of us were already quite handy in the kitchen but others less so. No previous experience was required at all. But even the most confident cooks still had plenty to inspire them. From speedy knife skills to creating an incredible rich stock with vegetable leftovers, to prepping, cooking and cracking lobsters everyone came away with something.

Even the normally painful washing up sessions, were crammed with fun and helped reinforce the idea that the the emphasis was on enjoyment of the process, which in turn develops a trust within the group structure and leads to the sense of togetherness which is at the heart of the Mouth London experience.

Two days of food, fun and friendship flashed by and we were all left wanting more. Looking forward to the next time already. To get a taste of the experience yourself why not try one of Marwan’s incredible recipes below. Or to experience your own food happening here at Hales Hall get in touch on info@haleshall.com or call on 07710 000 020.

Photographs by Claudine Boeglin

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