Lands of milk and honey: The edible atlas

Using real food, two artists have created an edible atlas that shows that we really are what we eat

So often, it’s the food that we eat that characterises our travels. Grilled sardines eaten under the Kefalonian stars; the sticky sweetness of Moroccan pomegranates; overindulging in gorgonzola in Milan. A simple local treat enjoyed in the very spot in which it was cultivated it can hold fast in the memory.

And it was this sort of passion for travel and eating that inspired the Kiwi photographer Henry Hargreaves and American food stylist Caitlin Levin, both 34, to create a series of charming food maps.

“Exploring new places through the food you eat is often a portal to the cultural complexities of that place,” Hargreaves says.

The pair took products that each of their locations are well-known for and, using those ingredients in various forms, turned them into metre-wide physical maps.

 

“These maps are a playful representation of our interpretation of food from around the world, painstakingly created with real food,” Hargreaves says. “The project speaks to the universality of how food unites people, brings us together, and starts conversations.” The United States is represented by corn in many different guises (a nod to the country’s wide use of the crop; everything from uncooked kernels to popcorn, tortilla chips to corn cakes can be spotted); Japan is made up of various kinds of seaweed, and citrus fruits illustrate South America. Meanwhile, each nation in Africa is plotted using a different part of plantain and banana, New Zealand is made up of kiwi fruits (boom boom!) and noodles map out China. But how did Hargreaves and Levin decide on which food to use for each place?

“We simply took the iconic foods of those countries and continents. While we know that tomatoes originally came from the Andes in South America, Italy has become the tomato king. These maps show how food has travelled the globe – transforming and becoming a part of the cultural identity of that place. Who doesn’t hear the phrase ‘throw some shrimp on the barbie’ and not think of Australia? Who goes to France without eating bread and cheese? And who makes a Brazilian caipirinha without a fistful of limes?” The culinary cartography of Great Britain and Ireland, meanwhile, nods to our love of biscuits, with jam tarts, digestives and custard creams being used to map out the islands.

Hargreaves and Levin met 10 years ago and have been working together ever since, often using edible props (another series of theirs involved deep-frying models of gadgets such as iPhones and Game Boys).

“Food is something that everyone can relate to, but we seldom see it, beyond something to eat,” Hargreaves says. “We like to challenge people’s expectations of it and use it to tell stories and display it in new, fun ways.”

Using fresh produce this time around, the project wasn’t without its difficulties. Each of the maps, which can be purchased as fine art prints, was created in one day at either Hargreaves’ studio in Brooklyn or Levin’s Manhattan apartment. And it was a race against time to plot out the countries in comestibles, then photograph them, before the food they used started to decay. The citrus fruits drying out and the bananas turning brown were particular issues. Not to mention the delightful smell a bucket of prawns emits over the course of 24 hours.

Still, Hargreaves says that on some days the food was intact enough for them to enjoy it afterwards.

This isn’t the first time that Hargreaves’ food work has captured people’s attention. His chilling recreations of death-row inmates’ last meal requests, a project entitled “No Seconds”, received plenty of interest in 2012. He says the appeal of photographing food simply comes from a lifelong fascination with what people choose to eat.

The success of Food Maps has already led to the pair’s next commission: recreating America’s 50 states using breakfast materials, for the Food Network. It would seem that, despite what you were told as a child, sometimes it’s no bad thing to play with your food.

For more information about the artists’ work, visit hargreavesandlevin.com

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game