Wasn’t it Gordon Ramsay who once said “when it's brown it's cooked, when it's black it's fucked”?
Indeed, and he’s not wrong. But this isn’t about overly-charred meats or burnt bread, this is about foods that are actually meant to be black in colour. So think charcoal burger buns, black sambuca-infused ice cream, and fermented black garlic.
I’d prefer not to. Why is this a thing?
You can thank Instagram for this one. The striking aesthetical impact of black foods has made them a visual hit… particularly with goths, based on a quick glance at the festival’s promotional material. But it’s also a trend that’s proven to be very popular across the online foodie community; post a pic of a coconut ash ice cream cornet online, and you’ll find people queueing up to ‘like’ it and ask you where you got it from.
Fair enough… what’s this festival about then?
It’s a celebration of all things – or rather, all foods – black. Having already taken place at locations around the world including Berlin, Tel Aviv, Helsinki, New York City and Istanbul, the Black Food Festival is now coming to London.
What can we expect to see on the menu?
Black iterations of various culinary favourites. So we’re talking black tacos, pizzas covered in black truffle and black risotto, all washed down with pints of black beer by diners sporting black lipstick and metallic jewellery. There will also be a jury panel made up of ‘gastronomy professionals’ that will evaluate the food offered and award the Black Food of London 2019 and Black Drink of London 2019 prizes to the makers of the finest and most creative products.
So is it just about food that has been turned black?
Not at all. Obviously that’s a big part of it, but there are also plenty of foods to explore that are naturally a black colour.
Well how about black pudding, a fry up favourite; or liquorice sweets; caviar; even coffee and dark chocolate… it’s not just about foodstuffs you can add charcoal dust too.
This just sounds like another food fad…
It feels like something more than that. Chefs have been creating black food dishes for a while. There’s Michael O'Hare's Emancipation, for example, which featured on BBC Two’s Great British Menu as is made from cod loin, cod dashi, squid ink powder, crispy potato, scorched gem lettuce and gold shoots. And at Josh Overington’s Le Cochon Aveugle in York you can get a boudin noir macaron.
Well, if you’re adverse to eating black food, how about dining in the pitch black instead, which is what you can do at Dans le Noir? in Farringdon. Instead of choosing dishes, you pick from one of three set menus without knowing what the courses are, and then consume them in a dining room without lighting.
It’s even darker than that!