Entertainment Books MONA cookbook details ways to eat invasive species

MONA cookbook details ways to eat invasive species

The rabbit, smoked potato and onion by chef Shannon Bennett. Photo: Rémi Chauvin
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In the age of MasterChef and Instagram posts, food has increasingly become an artform.

But a new cookbook takes it to surreal and extreme new lengths, with dishes like whole-roasted camel stuffed with a large goat, and possum served with salt-baked vegetables.

Possum, salt-baked vegetables, hazelnut, wild rice by chef Vince Trim. Photo: Rémi Chauvin

It’s the latest creation from Tasmania’s famed — and often controversial — Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), and is driven by artist and curator Kirsha Kaechele.

Titled Eat The Problem, the book is focused on invasive species and sets out to challenge ideas about sustainability and cooking.

Wild boar’s eye bloody Mary by cocktail expert Adam Turner. Photo: Mitch Osborne

“I grew up in Guam and we had a really big brown tree snake problem and so there were more snakes than humans,” Ms Kaechele said.

“And then I lived in New Orleans later and there was a rodent problem in the swamp, these big nutria.

So I thought well wait, there’s an industry in this. People need to make art and food and put these species to use.”
Are you happy to eat camel? You can get some inspiration. Photo: Jesse Hunniford

Renowned chefs including Shannon Bennett and Heston Blumenthal have contributed recipes to the gastronomically adventurous project, while artists and writers have also submitted their thoughts on the book’s central theme.

The result is a 544-page publication that – its creators hope – will make people salivate.

Sweet and sour cane toad legs by chef David McMahon. Photo: Mitch Osborne

“We have the great chefs of the world preparing these dishes, and they’re delicious and they’re gorgeous,” Ms Kaechele said.

“So it helps us think about it and reconsider our relationship to these ‘offensive ingredients’.”

Like much of what MONA does, the book is designed to start a conversation. This time, it’s around sustainability and the environment – though done with a bit of artistic flare.

“I’m trying to get rid of that heavy-handed environmental message and make it fun and light and beautiful,” Ms Kaechele said.

Pheasant with onion cream, wild fennel and pollen by chef David Moyle. Photo: Rémi Chauvin

“I mean, why are we eating cow? It has such a terrible impact on the environment, when we could be eating venison, which is an invasive species and it’s being culled.

“Thousands and thousands of deer are being shot and left because we don’t use them.

“So I’m asking us to reconsider.”

Water buffalo tongue, sauce piquante by Mark Wilsdon. Photo: Mitch Osborne

Mona will launch an Eat The Problem exhibit next month to coincide with the release of the book, which it says will explore the “act and art of transformation” and will be accompanied by a series of feast events.