Songs from the Pantry
Songs from the Pantry is a catwalk concert – a brand-new performing arts genre that offers a fusion of theatre performance and choral concert in the form of an extreme fashion show.
The catwalk concerts were created by costume designer Fruzsina Nagy and music composer and conductor Dóra Halas. In Hungary, they work closely with Dóra’s choir, the Soharóza, an experimental vocal ensemble, whose members perform songs on the stage while wearing Fruzsina’s abstract, storytelling costumes.
This performance was first planned as a catwalk concert on gastronomical topics. In the meantime, however, the pandemia struck and, during the creation of the piece, we could not go past the changes we had all experienced in our eating habits during quarantine.
The first scene today is dedicated to the grandmother who knows all the tricks and treats of her beloved pantry. She knows how to take care of the family even in times of shortage and need. We’d be wise to learn from our elders, but for the young, YouTube seems to be a more captivating teacher. And anyhow, we weren’t even advised to meet up with our older family members during the first wave of the quarantine.
This is where the second scene starts, exploring three of the fashionable home activities, which began to flourish during the lockdown. Who couldn’t see proud posts of fresh little tomatoes growing on our balcony, homemade bread made from sourdough, nurtured like a baby, or Korean kimchi pickled through the weeks and months of our stay at home?
The kimchi story:
It happened one fine day that old Chong-yol was deep in thought, working in his field, when he was suddenly startled by a tinkling sound.
His little grandson stood behind him and called out, "Papa, what are you doing?
- I'm scraping our nappa today, like yesterday," the old man replied.
- How do you do that?
- Nappa is the cabbage of our people. Look how much better it grows if it's not beaten up by weeds. When it grows nice fleshy leaves like this one, it makes kimchi, which you eat all year round from the left side of your plate.
The little rascal would have preferred to play on the bank of the stream, but the old man took him by the hand into the big kitchen and went on:
- "I'll cut into his cob with a sharp knife, and you'll see my fingers digging into it, and I'll break it in two. I'll salt it well, and while it rests, we'll make the rice porridge. Mix the rice flour with sugar and water until smooth. Add garlic, onions, ginger, ginger snaps, fish sauce, and mix them together to make a paste, then add the carrots, spring onions and radishes, chopped into matchsticks. Knead and stir, then rub the leaves one by one, like this.
Take good care, though: be thorough! Make sure you massage all the way down to the stem. There, you see? It's done. Bring the onggi, we'll stuff it in. Cover it up and keep it here in the back garden, in the trickling stream, until winter. And so it may ferment gently, plant a flower beside it and think of it every day.
More than just food, more than just pickles.
The elixir of life, guardian of our body and soul.
It's the meeting point of high and low,
of the wet and the dry, of winter and summer.
You be the kimchi, brother!
Be strong, but gentle.
Be enduring like limestone,
But flexible as reed.
Seek balance in the entireness,
Not in the centre.
You understand, my little one?