Next week, when the banquet for SFMOMA's commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of Futurism drops, the approximately 400 attendees will be treated to a spectacle that, in part, will be a repudiation of the very thing it's supposed to honor. As reported in the Chronicle yesterday, the banquet, from the arty food collective OPENrestaurant, will be shower guests with panforte drifting to the floor via parachute, and pass nibbles with wry names designed to take the piss out of America's food industry. The event is called OPENfuture: Spinning Marinetti's Wheels, and promises to be a "clamorous" night of "sounds, smells, and constant motion."
Though the original Futurist Manifesto appeared in 1909, F.T. Marinetti's 1932 Futurist Cookbook is one of the movement's best-known documents. The problem for moma organizers? It glorifies Fascism.
SFMOMA assocuiate curator of public programs Frank Smigiel approached OPENrestaurant's Sam White, Jerome Waag, and Stacie Pierce to engineer the banquet. "At first we were a bit hesitant," White told SFoodie. "The Futurist Cookbook is weirdly pro-war and kind of fascist, a big turn off from what were into. At first we were like, we're not sure. Then we did the research, and saw that a lot of its ideas are fundamental ideas about art and life. It gave us a lot of room to come up with something that's a response." In his day, Marinetti rejected Italian food traditions (he wanted to ban pasta, for instance), anything that smacked of a Romantic, pastoral idyll of food.
If he were alive today, Marinetti would despise Slow Food, locavores, and anyone in love with the notion of community-building around the table -- precisely the elements that next week's banquet promises, in part, to embody.
White acknowledged the irony. "The ideas have changed, but the energy hasn't," he said. "One of the things that I think is very unique about the Bay Area food world is that all these people that are doing things that have totally never been done. There's this great energy and push behind it, and the Futurists' ideals were all about moving forward , and doing all these things that engage creation. We're trying to take some of that and run with it a little bit."
Smigiel agreed. "If you were thinking of a contemporary example of Futurism, it means looking at what is the advance thinking to go with the technology of the day. I think these days, a lot of that is what is happening in the locavore movement, focusing on how our food is produced, and where it comes from."
White predicted that some 50 participants will produce the Futurist banquet. Ex-Ecolo chef Chris Lee will oversee the edible parts, White said, which will involve, in part, a steer being butchered specifically for the event, and Alameda's St. George Spirits will distill grappa flavored with the heart. Other participants include Tartine and Bar Tartine.
Magnolia Brewery, Four Barrel, Chez Panisse (where White is mâitre d'; Waag and Pierce work in the kitchen), and Tcho Chocolate.
Tickets are $65, and are on sale at the SFMOMA Web site.