Cuisine - - OUR COVER -

cover, we en­listed the help of Da­jiang Tai and Nat Cheshire of Cheshire Ar­chi­tects. In a fea­ture on page 44, Tai and Cheshire dis­cuss food’s po­ten­tial to act as a com­mon ground where cul­tures can work to­gether, and they built on this idea for the cover im­age.

The orig­i­nal con­cept was to cre­ate a serv­ing ves­sel of some sort to hold food from the is­sue, which would ref­er­ence the ideas dis­cussed in the fea­ture. Tai and Cheshire were ea­ger to take a nat­u­ral ma­te­rial and sub­tly shape it, re­flect­ing the east­ern prin­ci­ple of al­low­ing na­ture to play the big­gest part, with hu­mans sim­ply pro­vid­ing a help­ing hand.

Chi­nese schol­ars’ rocks, pop­u­lar in tra­di­tional Chi­nese gar­dens, were a source of in­spi­ra­tion. Tai ex­plains that a man would go to the for­est and find a rock that he felt had the po­ten­tial to be beau­ti­ful. He would make holes in it to en­hance its form, then put the rock in a river. He would tell his son about the rock, who many years later would come to the river and turn the rock over. The son would in turn tell his son, who would col­lect the rock decades later, when it had fi­nally taken shape, the fin­ished prod­uct hav­ing been crafted by na­ture and hu­man hands work­ing to­gether.

The boul­der on our cover was shaped by Wai­heke Is­land’s aptly named Peter Flint of Is­land Stone, who is cur­rently work­ing with Cheshire Ar­chi­tects on a stone house on the is­land.

The cur­va­ture in the rock aims to evoke a Chi­nese soup spoon, says Tai, and holds a se­lec­tion of dishes from the is­sue – Olivia An­drews’ Asian Bloody Mary and green pa­paya & bean salad, and Sarah Tuck’s aro­matic braised beef & chilli dumplings.

“Peter sourced the boul­der based on a sketch we did and he just went for it – shaped it, cut de­lin­eations on it and then de­liv­ered it to Toaki’s [Okano, the pho­tog­ra­pher who shot the cover] stu­dio.”

The brass chop­sticks were made by Drake & Wrigley, a com­pany that spe­cialises in mak­ing door han­dles. “We wanted some­thing slightly shiny but it had to be a nat­u­ral ma­te­rial,” ex­plains Tai.

The rock sits on a bed of sea salt. “It’s nice and light and there’s an ab­stract crystal na­ture to it,” says Tai. “Ev­ery piece is dif­fer­ent.”

En­cour­ag­ing a dif­fer­ent view of Asian food is the over-arch­ing aim, says Tai.

“I hope when peo­ple see the cover what they will feel is like a door open­ing. When I talk about it [Chi­nese food] to my friends, it’s very hard for them not to think about flu­oro lights and shaky ta­bles... ei­ther that or they think about some­thing that’s in the movies.

“Hope­fully the cover speaks some­thing in be­tween, that’s nei­ther the flu­oro lights nor the scene from the movies.”

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