4000 Varieties of Orange Raewyn Turner & Brian Harris

February 2011

The focus in 4000 Varieties of orange is on food monocultures and fragrance/flavour biodiversity.

Each square had a different flavor and the audience were invited to consume the work.

Our materials were the four monocultured ingredients of soy, wheat, rice and corn, and synthetic flavours which immediately conjure visual pictures in the mind’s eye ( We carried out taste tests comparing real food flavours with synthetic flavours, for example a ripe apricot with apricot flavour, steak with steak flavour, apple with apple flavour, etc).  I’m interested in the power of synthetic flavouring to conjure visual images and in exploring synaesthetic experience of food.

After weeks of cooking from dawn till dusk in the kitchen, experimenting with delightfully visual pies hand crafted from slabs of corn and wheat flour, and filled with synthetically – flavoured mixtures of seasoned soy meats and rice, we decided to utilize readily available food that would give a pleasant taste experience – the sort of food that is readymade and available in supermarkets and already had a positive hedonic value.

We used sponge cake made with wheat flour.  Each piece of cake was individually coloured and flavoured eg apricot, apple, peach, steak, salmon, lemon, mushroom, beer, banana, raspberry, onion, chicken, tea, chocolate, boysenberry, cheese, potato, carrot, orange, roast lamb, brandy, peach, fish…..

New associations are being made and our sense of taste is changing as it adapts to an increasing diversity of synthetic fragrance and flavour food additives.  When consumed traces of these novel flavours may be included in the human plume. The plume consists of a layer of warm air which rises into the atmosphere, carrying with it molecules from the skin of human bodies. The project is focused on exploring the constituants of the human plume. http://crossingwireslab.tumblr.com/post/237948931/the-ocean-of-chemical-signals

A big thankyou to Formula Foods a professional food technology company based in Christchurch, for their generosity in providing flavours.

The work emerged from our SCANZ residency in New Plymouth NZ 2010.

More about the project here

We were originally designing a themed dinner and dialogue for the Eco Sapiens residency participants and friends, intended as a pilot leading to further cultural dinner events, so we started the project making pies.

We researched historic food ingredients and presentation, focusing on the creation of hand raised pies and sprung metal pie moulds.. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, pies were made in very elaborate shapes.

Using a limited pallet of wheat, rice, soy and corn, we started experimenting in Auckland. We wanted to get the flavouring to work and develop pastry recipes to create pie sculptures.

Flavouring the pies was a challenge due to the complexities of combining texture, fragrance, flavour and visual attraction.  We sought advice from award-winning chefs on recipes to create tasty pie fillings which we then adapted for the project( using soy instead of meat.)

.      Mrs Beetons  Everyday cookery 1880/Ivan Day Historic Food

.      Food staples /monocultures : wheat, rice, soy, maize,

.      Flavour/Fragrance diversity : Formula Foods

An example of one of the pies was where we’d used chicken, beef and bacon flavourings to substitute for bird flesh. The filling was mock chicken—a type of soy protein.

When the pie was opened we noticed a definite shift from the visual pleasure of the pie to olfacto/gustatory displeasure.

a BIG THANKYOU to House of Aroha for the Aprons –designed and printed by Rakai Karaitiana    http://www.houseofaroha.com/