Nothing really hits the spot after a nice dinner like a sweet dollop of creamy air pollution-flavored meringue, right? No? While the idea of eating a dessert made to taste like smog might sound gross, that’s exactly the message that the Center for Genomic Gastronomy was trying to convey.
The center recently teamed up with the Edible Geography blog, and the Finnish Cultural Institute to create creamy meringue puffs that taste like the toxins found in polluted garbage air at the New Museums City Ideas Festival. The idea behind the project wasn’t to necessarily serve attendees a gross toxic dessert, but to point out how we often don’t think twice about breathing polluted air, but eating a dessert made from it would send many running out the door.
This wasn’t just any old urban smog dessert that was being served up either. The menu consisted of top-of-the-line city smog flavors like “London-Style Pea-Souper Smog,” “Atlanta-Style Biogenic Photochemical Smog,” and a throwback “Los Angeles in the 1950s Smog.” The odd treat certainly caught patrons off guard with Zackery Denfield, co-founder of the Center for Genomic Gastronomy saying that people would ask him “Is it safe to eat?” to which he would reply “Is it safe to breathe?”
According to reports air pollution kills some 7 million people worldwide each year and air pollution in New York City is often highest in low-income neighborhoods. That kind of information isn’t exactly a recipe for a delicious dessert, but Edible Geography’s Nicola Twilley says there’s actually a different flavor to certain cities smog.
To create the wicked treats a team at the University of California Riverside made special smog chambers to best create the synthetic smog flavor, but added in flavors like orange and chocolate to cut down on that bitter industrial smokestack taste.
The idea of chowing down on some fluffy meringue made to taste like air pollution probably isn’t most people’s idea of a go-to dessert. Twilley though considers it a Trojan horse treat and hopes that it will make people think more about the air they breathe on a daily basis.