Maggi Galaxy

Presented by Stephan Palmié, Anthropology Dept. at University of Chicago
Antoni Miralda, Artist and founder of Food Cultura, Foodcultura*

Image by Peter Engler

The Reader’s Mike Sula weighs in on Maggi

As part of the Living Together Performance Series which took place in Little Haiti, the Haitian neighborhood of Miami, 2018, The Maggic Banquet, a participatory food-performance by the internationally acclaimed Miami- and Barcelona-based artist Miralda, celebrated Miami’s diverse cultural heritage by tracing the culinary history of Maggi, the ubiquitous and universal seasoning brand. Presenting dishes from the kitchens of Miami’s various ethnic groups — all made with Maggi — in an altar-like buffet, Miralda explored the commodification and globalization of food and tradition.

“The Maggic Banquet”, a pun on the surname of the Swiss Julius Maggi, who was the first to market these dehydrated broth cubes that have given flavor to an incalculable number of soups and other dishes since the first decade of the 20th century.

And unlike those manufactured at the beginning of the 20th century by Julius Maggi, who was a philanthropist who wanted to help alleviate the hunger of humanity with something cheap and easy to prepare, they all have a lot of sodium and chemical components as its ingredients. Maggi offers cubes for all tastes (chicken, beef, vegetables or others) and country of origin: Nigeria, China, Haiti, United States and Egypt, where it is made to Islam halal standards.

What Miralda explores in his “buffet” is the commercialization and globalization of food, as well as tradition, identity, “memory of taste” and eating habits. Stephan Palmié contributed an essay on the history to this project’s fanzine.

Miralda is interested in materials and information about Maggi from anywhere in the world and in any language, images of product packaging, posters, advertisements and billboards, as well as published articles and recipes and images of dishes from cookbooks that include cubes of Maggi as an ingredient.

Stephan Palmié is a Professor of Anthropology and of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago, conducts ethnographic and historical research on Afro-Caribbean cultures, with an emphasis on Afro-Cuban religious formations and their relations to the history and cultures of a wider Atlantic world. His other interests include practices of historical representation and knowledge production, systems of slavery and unfree labor, constructions of race and ethnicity, conceptions of embodiment and moral personhood, medical anthropology, and the anthropology of food and cuisine.

Antoni Miralda is one of the most distinguished pioneers of “food art”. Representative works of his include Diner en quatre couleurs (with Dorothée Selz, Galerie Claude Givaudan, Paris 1970), a sixty diner event featuring color-coded dishes; Eat Art Bankett (with Dorothee Selz, Eat Art Gallerie, Düsseldorf 1971; Breadline (Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX, 1977); Mona a Barcelona (Galeria Joan Prats, Barcelona, 1980); Wheat and Steak (Nov. 7-24, 1981, Kansas City), a multi-day event including parades, museum installations, a meal at the board of trade, and other events geared towards maximizing citizen participation; Santa Comida (New York, Miami, Barcelona, 1984-2017), an interactive space centered on sacrificial offerings to Afro-Atlantic deities that emphasizes spatial movement, even as it has toured three continents in the past thirty years; El Internacional (1984-86), a conceptual art tapas bar and restaurant (incidentally the first tapas bar in the U.S.) set up in Tribeca long before that neighborhood (or Soho, for that matter) became a hub for the arts in the 1990s; the massive 1,500 square meters Food Pavillion at the Hannover Expo 2000, featuring a whole range of sub-projects (such as the African Projects, the In Vitro Wall, or the splendid Infinity Table, among many others). We could go on. But to just mention one of Miralda’s most recent projects, in April 2017 he and Alicia Rios staged ¿Garbage? in collaboration with the Faculty of Humanities and the Center for Visual Cultures of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, a project centered on juxtaposing the famous farmer’s market below the state capitol with a truck configured as a “garbage museum” collecting the university’s garbage output on a single day with the participation of UWM students and local resident.

*Foodcultura is a Gray Center Mellon Collaborative Fellowship brings together artist Antonio Miralda and University of Chicago Anthropologist Stephan Palmié as they explore the intersection between food, art, and other forms of cultural exchange. This project also includes “Foodcultura: The Art and Anthropology of Cuisine,” a team-taught course with a particular focus on “Chicago’s diverse and complex alimentary and gustatory worlds”

Saturday, November 9, 2019 at 10 AM
Bethany Retirement Community
4950 North Ashland Avenue, Chicago 60640
(West of Clark Avenue, South of Lawrence Avenue)

Public transportation: Clark St. Bus Route 22 is nearby
Free Parking street parking and a parking lot (info on reverse side)
Cost: $3.

Cost of the lecture program is $3 for students and no charge for CHC members, Foodcultura students or Bethany residents and staff. To reserve, please e-mail your reservation: [email protected]