Mackerel with salsa for mains at the Waterless Dinner - pic supplied
Mackerel with salsa for mains at the Waterless Dinner - pic supplied

Waterless cooking in Cape Town is a reality

By Nathan Adams Time of article published Jan 29, 2018

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As Cape Town residents try to save water, the concepts of cooking without water and growing crops in seawater have become somewhat meaningful.

Food design agency Studio H, last week hosted a series of pop-up waterless dinners, and the food was prepared with salt-tolerant crops.

Last year at the Dutch Design Week, and as part of The Embassy of Food, the agency unveiled how it imagined farming and growing crops in seawater could become common practice in drought-stricken cities and countries.

On the waterless dinner menu was salt-baked ostrich fillet with fried ostrich egg, and strawberry camel milk ice cream. Waterless gin cocktails were served with frozen stones instead of ice cubes.

Using seawater to cook vegetables is at the heart of the agency’s S/ZOUT project.

Studio H’s findings include that “certain varities of tested crop species have a larger salt tolerance - specifically, lettuce, cabbage, strawberries, potatoes, carrots and tomatoes”.

Hannerie Visser, founder of Studio H, said: “This whole project was fuelled by our ongoing obsession with designing solutions for a world suffering from water scarcity.

“We are constantly calculating the water footprint of everything that we eat.”

Strawberry camel milk ice cream served at the one of Studio H's pop-up waterless dinners. Picture: supplied

The menu included an ostrich egg because ostriches don’t drink water, and camels’ milk because the animal is able to store water.

Visser said: “The menu was equally driven by ingredients and process.

“We looked at the amounts of water crops need to grow - for example, it takes three litres of water to grow one carrot and 11 litres to grow one potato. We also explored using waterless cooking methods.”

With Day Zero looming, using less to no water in the kitchen is something Cape cooks should get acustomed to. Beyond using minimal water for the dirty dishes, people also need to rethink the amount of water they use to prepare food.

UCOOK, a dinner kit service which delivers ingredients and recipes to clients’ doorsteps, has also launched a series of waterless recipes.

Sonja Edridge from The Larder Cafe, and Franck Dangereux from The Foodbarn, are chefs who have taken up the challenge of crafting waterless recipes for people to prepare at home.

Edridge said: “I think the most basic of challenges is the cleaning of the food before cooking, and then washing up after the meal.”

She added: “I have bowls that fit neatly into my sinks so that no water goes down the sink.

Dangereux agreed, and said it’s not difficult to adapt existing recipes: “For instance, if a recipe calls for poaching an ingredient, it can easily be fried or grilled instead.

“It’s just a case of being creative in the kitchen and conscious of every drop used.”

A table of salt bejeweled with seawater tolerant vegetables: the crudités that kicked off Thursday night’s S/Zout Waterless Dinner, organized by Hannerie Visser of Studio H, and with creative waterless cocktails from The Botanist Gin. Given Cape Town’s water crisis and the fact that agriculture uses the lion’s share of our global water resources, exploring seawater as a source of crop irrigation is a must. More to follow on the blog soon. @studio_h_ @thebotanistgin __________________ #waterlessdinner #foodexperience #sustainability #sustainablelifestyle #capetown #southafrica #foodwriter #foodblog #fooddesign #environment #capetownwatercrisis #ethical #water #foodblogger #tablesetting #foodpic #foodevent #salt #instapic #veggies #eattheworld #lifeandthyme #organic #cuisine #waterwise #consciouseating #tablescape

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