Adelaster Food Textures
---Every dish is a spell from the North ---
Cooking is nothing less than a fine art. It coaxes every sense out of hiding. The instant engagement of smell when onions hit the pan, or the way your eyes grow larger when waiting for broth to boil. The way dough comes together in your hands and you feel right away when it is time to let go. The sound of the crackling in the oven when roasting potatoes are just about done. Sweetness blooming on your lips when you give a cool sorbet the first taste. Every single sense comes alive. So many of us have forgotten the art of cooking. The art of fueling our bodies with food that nourishes and inspires. In the past cooking was a large part of most of our ancestors’ days. You must eat, to live. There are a couple people that I have been lucky enough to stumble upon that bring me back to that time. They add a modern beauty to a beautiful past. One of these people is Adelaster. A mystery of magic concoctions. Her Instagram page is an ode to artistic forms on plates. Much of it is vegan or vegetarian though sometimes she moves with the tides and includes delicacies from wherever she is. I cannot communicate the beauty of her work. Her Instagram page is her secret haven. A world away from her everyday life where she can celebrate her love for creating breathtaking food. Her photos alone inspire my senses to breathe deeply. I can only imagine what it is like to experience her cuisine in person. She is based in wondrous Sweden and once I asked her if she had a restaurant and she responded, “Only a secret restaurant that moves from the forest or to the water or to a field… if you come to Sweden you will get an invite!” My husband had to physically pry the credit card out of my hand, I just about moved to Sweden at that point. The colors and design on her plates honestly bring me close to tears. They move me as a Renoir or Van Gogh move me. They bring me to where she is for she forages and utilizes the forest she is in, or the sea she is cooking by. She brings the landscape to you on a plate just as a painter uses her brushes to bring a place alive, Adelaster uses cooking to bring you to her present. I wanted to delve into the mind of the brilliant person and bring you a glimpse of her world. When she agreed to do an interview with me I was over the moon. So here it goes, the radiant world of Adelaster.
Hello lovely Adelaster, Thank you for answering a couple questions and letting us into your world. First off where did you come up with your name? Adelaster Food Textures?
Adelaster means: provisional name for a plant whose flowers are unknown. It suited the project at the start because we didn't know where it would take us. It turned out that I do the food and Adelasters other half does the sweet baking and designs the tables and settings when we set up in a forest or other natural setting. I will answer the questions today because she is away doing workshops. The textures part says a lot about how I feel about food and you can see it on the plates. I love seeing the produce in its full form. I make purées, pearls, dusts and so on but nothing beats the clean look of the actual leaf, fruit, nut, or vegetable and I try to highlight those textures whenever I can.
Where is your favorite location to draw inspiration from?
For me it’s from nature. I grew up in a city in Sweden and then moved to a bigger city. Then I moved to the mountains in Australia a couple of years back and realized that the city person had departed. I opened my door in the morning and looked out on a lemon tree, two orange trees, a green grass sea, chickens, ducks, gardens, mountains and everything glowed. I thought back to the Sydney warehouse we had been living in and it felt like dead block of concrete. If I have to narrow it down further then the forest, the older the better. The Australian rain forest is grand and packed full of life but I still prefer the North’s starkness with moss floors and space between the trees. I’m back in Sweden now but this time I live in the forest and I am at home, the city is no longer.
What colors make you giddy inside?
I like the cold colors. The blues, greens, grays, the color of some metals like dirty gold. Always the muted ones, never liked the prime colors.
What brought you to the place that you started representing Vegan and Vegetarian food? Are you yourself a vegan or vegetarian?
I used to be an avid omnivore but over the last two years I started making a lot of changes in my life. Two things made me reconsider my eating habits. One was going to a farm in Coffs Harbor. I asked why the cows made so much noise in the paddocks, it sounded like they were screaming. They told me that the truck to pick up all the young had come today. With the cows came the question… Can you kill a baby cow or any cow? The answer was no. The second question was, should you eat it if you can’t kill it yourself? And so my adventure in vegan and vegetarian cooking began.
Did you grow up in the kitchen?
My parents traveled a lot when I grew up so I had to learn quickly! The love for food runs through my whole family as well.
Your favorite season?
Sweden is a bit unusual with the light. Summer has so much and winter so little. The sky goes a dark blue for a few hours at night in summer and most people don't need to sleep as much. The reverse is true in winter. I hibernate for the darkest months. Autumn with all the colors is outstanding in the forest but sometimes we have so much rain it takes away a sliver of the glory. Spring can hit within a twenty four hour period. You go to bed and things barely look alive, then the next day there are leafs and flowers everywhere so spring has its own magic. But for someone who likes to grow I have to say summer. A day in the garden is well spent.
Your most coveted produce in winter?
The produce I wait for all year are the Artichokes in Autumn and then the sun-chokes in winter. I love digging them up in November and you pull the plant out of the ground and there are lots of chokes hanging from little strings. Magic.
Flavors that you love to use?
I rather say that I have almost an Asian approach to flavor - I like it to be a balance of salty, sweet, sour, umami and sometimes a bit of heat.
What do you want others to take from your creations?
That vegetarian food doesn't have to be cut up vegetable that are barely seasoned. This is how I viewed vegetarian food before I became aware of the endless possibilities.
When my mind opened to the idea of vegetarian food I suddenly realized how narrow my mind had been. Inspiration came as soon as I wanted to cook and sometimes I think that inspiration is a reward you get from doing what is right for you.
Your take on our modern food system? How do you think we could change for the better?
You don’t want to start me on this one, its ranting material I do have a lot of opinions about the food system so many in fact that it would be hard to narrow them all down to interview material. Instead I would like to tell you a story of an angry old lady I meet in New Town, Sydney. I’m in a queue in a Deli shop. A little old lady elbows her way into the queue right in front of me. Probably of Italian or Greek descent, she keeps turning around and looking at me like I’m the one who popped in front! She pays for some fruit and leaves. I pay for my bread and walk out as well. Then there she is again, walking straight at me looking mighty angry. She points at my bread and says, "You should not buy bread". Before I can answer she continues, "Before this time great injustice was done to the woman, she was beaten, she was taken, she was not her own, hurt, burned over and over. But some of the woman were smart. There is strength sometimes in injustice. And some of the woman (she said woman like that) hid that strength for you new woman. Guess where they hid it?" She did not wait for my answer but said, "They hid it in the dough when baking, in the dirt when planting and in the milk for the babies. But you silly new woman don't make your bread, don't grow your food and give your babies powder to keep the breast round. If you only knew the strength that is in the dough." Then she stalked off and left me standing there with my bread! Strange little story aside. I think that growing your own food has great merit and that staying away from heavily processed foods is a good idea health wise. I’m baffled and intrigued by GMO’s but I believe that extensive research has to be done before letting it out into the food supply. And that research fields should be well separated from normal fields so that cross-pollination does not occur. What I really don't like is big businesses that talk about patenting plants. I understand they want to paten their new "genetically modified" kinds but I believe that it is a really bad door to open and that it will soon be misused. Finally I would like to put an end to factory farming! That life is a life of torture and I fail to understand how we as a race have allowed our want to eat meat to harden our hearts like that.
Top Five places you would like to visit in the world and why?
The Arctic Circle
Chile - salt dessert
Italy once again
I have been to a lot of countries but these are still on my list. I love countries with old buildings and old ways. If they lack neon signs, big fast-food chains and billboards that’s a plus.
I saw that for the month of December you are creating all vegan/vegetarian Christmas dishes, can you tell us a little more about what you be creating?
For the Vegetarian/vegan xmas food it will be a little more festive! I’m always baffled how uninventive the vegetarian/vegan options can be at most restaurants. I would love to see a change in how restaurants approach vegan and vegetarian cuisine. I also would like meat eaters to try my recipes and not miss an ounce of the flavors and textures they are accustomed too. I want to provide a beautiful way to enjoy a vegan and vegetarian holiday!
What is cooking for you? What does it make you feel?
It’s a glue! A glue that connects.