It’s supposed to be a critique of “food porn,” but it’s turning into a life of its own.
It’s called “Cooking with your Mouth,” and judging by its popularity on social media, it might be coming to a restaurant near you (Well, probably not).
It’s a gross experience. Actually chopping, dicing, and preparing food with your mouth and spitting it into a bowl to be cooked. In one video, a woman prepares Christmas stuffing by using only her mouth. She “chops” up raw onions, garlic, carrots, and peppercorns (!) using only her teeth. When it’s all ready, she mixes it together, stuffs it into a turkey, and bakes it. When it’s perfectly golden brown, she takes it out, kisses it, then eats it.
Here’s an abbreviated twitter video of it:
white people already ruined 2018 pic.twitter.com/SDKxpdSc6T
— sᴀʀᴀʜ, ᴛʜᴇ ʀᴇᴘᴏʀᴛᴇʀ (@amyharvard_) January 2, 2018
And, if you’re interested, here’s a link for the full five-minute video.
Spencer Kornhaber: Tell me about your background generally.
Nathan Ceddia: I’ve always been really interested in cooking. After school I studied hospitality and hotel management but hated it because I wanted to do something more creative. So I did things like try out for MasterChef, and then I studied video arts for three years.
[The project] that started off my food videos was a thing called “sneeze art.” Wasabi makes me sneeze; I was eating a sushi roll, and it went all over the wall. So I created a film about an artist [whose] painting work was done by sneezing onto a canvas. People actually believed that character was real.
After that, I moved to London and I worked for Bompas & Parr, which is a food design company. One of the projects we did was called “Cake Holes.” We invited 20 people into our studio and asked them to get naked and sit on cakes. It started to go viral, and we got a lot of emails from people who do sploshing. Do you know what sploshing is?
Kornhaber: I don’t think so.
Ceddia: Sploshing is where people cover themselves in food for fun. It’s maybe a sexual thing, but also a playful thing. There’s a whole community.
From there, I moved to Berlin and started creating videos for myself. The idea [for “Cooking With Your Mouth”] came to me when I was in my friend’s kitchen, having a meal. My friend was trying to find some utensils and I said, “Well if you don’t have utensils, why don’t you use your mouth? What’s the sharpest tool in the kitchen right now? It’s our teeth.”
On that night, I came up with maybe 10 recipes that I could do. But I sat on it for about two years, with it always in the back of my head. A few months ago we decided to film an episode with my friend Iska [Lupton]. She came over to Berlin for 24 hours—she’d never been there before—and we shot two recipes, one still to come. But we’ll keep that quiet for now.
Kornhaber: Oh god.
Ceddia: I can say that this one goes the next step. It goes even further.
Kornhaber: Like raw meat?
Ceddia: It’s very meaty. Yeah. There’s a lot of ripping, pulling, and tearing.
So we shot the episode. We had two cameras on her. Everything was real, we didn’t want to fake anything. She firstly chopped up the onion in her mouth, which was really full-on for her, and she cried tears. For me as the director, watching her, it was a bit challenging because you can’t help—all the pain was going on in her mouth. It got tougher once we got to the garlic, which started to burn. She was a pro. At the end of it, the meal that we turned out looked like it could have come from a restaurant. It was tasty; we all had a taste.
For us, it was a test to see, “If you didn’t have anything in the kitchen, what could you do to create a meal?” Obviously people think it’s gross, but you’re putting food in your mouth at the end of the day. If you’re cooking for a partner, someone you kiss, why not cook in a totally different way?
Kornhaber: There have been a couple of write-ups that took the video extremely at face value, saying that cooking with your mouth was a “trend” of 2018. What did you make of that reaction?
Ceddia: I think it’s a great trend for 2018. It’s making people think outside the square. Cooking has become boring. Everyone knows how to do it. Why not take it to the next step?
Kornhaber: But it’s a satire of cooking culture, right?
Ceddia: Well it’s definitely looking into cooking culture. Social media has overshared food too much. Everyone watches the cooking show, but no one cooks the meal. It’s become food porn, over-the-top and gross and extreme […]
Kornhaber: A lot of your art plays with things that people consider disgusting, whether it’s chewing and spitting, or sneezing, or sitting on cakes. What’s your interest in disgust?
Ceddia: People think things are disgusting, but it’s something natural they do every day. What’s the difference between sitting naked on some grass or sitting on a cake you can wipe off? It’s all the same thing. It’s just context. And sneezing is something natural that happens all the time. Why can’t it be more than that? It’s not just a sneeze that happens and goes away—it’s something you can visualize. If you could see all the particles flying through the air, you’d see all the beauty in it.
Cooking with your mouth might be disgusting to people. But it also shows us what we don’t need. If you didn’t have a knife, what would you use? We are more powerful than we think we are.