Our faithful correspondent Alex Steed sent us this post:
The Perennial Plate is coming to Portland and my excitement is boundless.
As it is described on its website: “The Perennial Plate is an online weekly documentary series dedicated to socially responsible and adventurous eating. The episodes follow the culinary, agricultural and hunting explorations of chef and activist, Daniel Klein.”
I produce Food Coma TV, a show that is similar in its mechanics, though somewhat oppositional in its message and delivery. We eat adventurously, but we do so in a way that is alcohol-soaked and arguably socially irresponsible. Our expeditions are culinary, but our content does not serve as an advocate for sustainability. We are the N.W.A. to Klein’s Tribe Called Quest.
This said, my interest in food stems from a love for sustainability movements. I ran for the Statehouse in Western Maine a few years back on a platform that was built around a reverence for food and the communities responsible for its cultivation and creation. Klein and camerawoman Mirra Fine have created a compelling, engaging body of work around these movements, opening access to many of these concepts in a digital, interconnected world.
In order for causes to be understood, accepted and adopted in this ever-evolving digital media sphere, they require charismatic, digital literates to evangelize for them, and this must be accomplished in as organic and entertaining a fashion possible. This is the role that Daniel and Mirra so elegantly play.
In most popular media, food has been stripped down to a mere commodity (with some exceptions, of course). The mainstream media has done to it what mainstream pornography has done to women over all of these years: the product has by and large been stripped of the context, complexities, and idiosyncrasies that make it beautiful. In its presentation, its role as a social dignitary, a cultural diplomat, has been minimized and in some cases stripped away altogether. As divergent as our topics are, I feel an affinity for the Perennial Plate because we are both, in our own ways, resisting this.
Of Perennial Plate, Food & Wine Magazine wrote that they produce “a level of culinary cinema verité that television can’t (or wouldn’t dare) match.” In this way, it accomplishes something radical that the Internet is allowing for in a post-cable society. It allows us a complex and non-prescriptive way of looking at a subject we all share a love for, but has been trivialized by the gatekeepers of the entertainment industry for too long. In this sense, Daniel and Mirra are liberators, and I welcome them to Portland.