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Of all the foodie experiences going on in São Paulo – gourmet picnics, supper clubs, pop-up dinners, blindfold tastings – the exhibition 'Como Penso Como' takes things to a whole new level at SESC Pompeia, with a madcap mix of Brazilian culinary anthropology, food design and art, presented via film, multi-media installations and a series of tastings, the latter in a similar vein to that of Ferran Adrià's food-laboratory-meets-art approach (albeit without the Michelin stars).
In the exhibition, the food designer and artist Simone Mattar explores our relationship with food and its role in society through the ages, from its symbolism in worship, for example, right through to the globalised fast food reality of today. Food's role in Brazilian identity is Mattar's main focus. Step into a room permeated with the smells of coffee and freshly baked cake, and the distinctive cries of street hawkers, selling their wares. Or watch a film on the history of food design, projected on the inside of a 25-metre spiral maze, built in the form of a bolo de rolo, a traditional roly-poly cake from the north-eastern state of Pernambuco.
The most out-there part of the exhibition, however, are the twice-daily tasting menus for groups of up to thirty curious diners. Sign up and eat your way through a series of nine dishes, each inspired by some aspect of Brazilian folklore, history or culture. We're not talking traditional recipes though – this is more edible sculpture than food.
The 'O Grande Poder' course, for example, is an ode to manioc, inspired by one of the songs of Mestre Verdelinho, one of the better-known musicians specialising in the north-eastern repente style of improvised music. The dish comes with an edible patterned lantern made of manioc, duck cured in arubé (a sauce made from wild manioc root), crunchy manioc, and a liquid croquette made with tacacá (a northern soup made with wild manioc root and lip-tingling jambu leaves). Eat your heart out, Willy Wonka.
The tastings are held at 6pm and 9pm, Wed-Sat and 1pm and 4pm, Sun. Tickets are R$50 per person and can be bought at the SESC Pompeia box office.