Zane Cerpina, Stahl Stenslie – The Anthropocene Cookbook: Recipes and Opportunities for Future Catastrophes


MIT Press, ISBN 978-0262047401, English, 272 pages, 2022, USA

This book is a unique essay that deals extensively with art and extreme realms of food. Food has become one of the most discussed parts of our lives, with endless meanings attached to it, from the limits of taste to the survival of the human species and everything in between. Cerpina and Stenslie employ a “liminal aesthetics”, a methodology that is theoretically controversial, yet which still maintains a solid consistency. Since Filippo Marinetti’s controversial “Futurist Cookbook”, artists have linked the radical and transgressive dimensions of food as a medium to hypothetical post-apocalyptic scenarios and survival in catastrophe. This is remarkably timely given the current climate catastrophe. The text is clearly intended to “create actions” more than it is intended to create gourmet meals. Inventive food is examined historically in times of famine and in the many biological and technological possibilities that exist today. Strategies analysed include not only growing food in unexpected conditions or making inedible food edible again, but also expanding human capabilities to synthesise food ingredients and assemble non-organic foods. The constant navigation between inevitable human needs and stark paradoxes, between the purely synthetic and the overly organic, is easy to follow, thanks to excellent research and captivating prose.