During our week and a half at the Parlour Showrooms in Bristol, we wanted to get people thinking about food as they came into our space. Each day we asked about 100 people to tell us what they ate so far and what they were planning to have for tea later that evening. It was interesting to see how people’s eyes widened and faces lit up when we asked them to tell us about the meals they had cooked or were planning. It was also a great way to get people thinking about food experiences and to introduce some of the concepts we were looking to explore.
We magnified this theme by producing word clouds summarising what people told us each day. Of course, many of the summaries reflected our expectations – for example, roast was popular on Sunday and ice cream was highly represented on Wednesday – a particularly sunny and warm day in Bristol. However, we also suspected a bit of showing off…or perhaps some items were conveniently forgotten (I remain suspicious about the under-representation of chips, crisps, burgers and the like…).
In any event, the word clouds helped open a conversation about food at a quite intimate level. It was almost as if we stepped right into people’s kitchen or were seated at the breakfast table with them. In these discussions, we also noticed how words such as homemade, local, or fresh preceded many of the foods people listed. Indeed, many people took great pride in describing quite luxurious meals, their homemade marmalades and ultra-healthy wraps stuffed with veggies from their own garden or allotment. It was interesting to then introduce people to the world of almost exclusively tinned, processed foods which made up many of the meals of our community partners from The Matthew Tree Project. I found the juxtaposition encouraged reflection about where our food comes from and how lucky or privileged many people are to be able to access the food they want.
Here are a few of the word clouds from our time at the Parlour Showrooms.