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Festival Devoted to Black Foods Inadvertently Proves That Almost Zero Foods Are Black

The Black Food Festival is all about squid ink, black sesame, and uh, food colouring?

Black cake with black icing for the Black Food festival in London

Festival celebrating foods that are black has a small field to play with

A festival of black food will arrive in London this month, celebrating a very small pool indeed of foods that are black and a very large pool of foods that are not black but can be black if charcoal, squid ink, or black sesame seeds are added to them. Foods that are black: black sesame seeds; squid ink; nigella seeds; onion seeds; poppy seeds; black garlic; liquorice; any food, if it is burnt. Foods that are not black but can be black: a charcoal croissant; a charcoal latte; black sesame ice cream; cake; literally anything with the ability to be dyed with activated charcoal, zinc, or coconut ash. There are tasty, good foods that are black, but there are also foods that are just dyed black. Get a festival that can do both. According to the organisers:

“The Black Food Festival was born out of curiosity for international cuisines and the experimental nature of culinary minds across the globe. To pay homage to those who prefer to take the road less traveled: the risk takers, the innovators, the trailblazers, there will be a panel of gastronomy professionals on the look out for the most creative and finest products.”

It also invites people to join “the new black food movement,” which is both a bold assertion about food laced with lightweight black carbon residue, and a turn of phrase carrying the kind of clumsy, ill-thought confidence that centres social and financial capital to the detriment of genuine advocacy and advancement for still marginalised groups. The organisers appear to be aware of this, having called the New York City version “Dark Food,” but not aware enough to think that it might just be a suboptimal phrase all round.

Tickets are only £12... Which is apt, because there are almost no foods that are actually black. It is in(s)ane. It represents an intriguing but also depressing way of seeing and judging food as worthy in which colour supersedes flavour as the most intrinsic facet of the eating experience. It is real. It is promoting a foodstuff that may absorb medication because it has no filter on being activated. It is goth as hell. Deactivate this charcoal, please.

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