John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Who knew saffron risotto with barberry chutney could say so much about Internet censorship in Iran?
How many people involved in the Arab Spring are on Facebook? To answer that, you could search Google and news archives. Or, if you were lucky enough to attend a recent banquet devoted to "data cuisine," you could examine these cake pops. Each contains different amounts of sprinkles, representing the percentage of Facebook users in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, respectively:
This gourmet extravaganza for geeks took place in Berlin during last week's Open Eye Award, an annual honoring of journalists reporting in the Middle East. Past ceremonies have focused on themes like "youth" and "challenges facing Iraq"; this year's topic was "media development," and the dishes reflected it in weirdly creative ways. (Who knew saffron risotto with barberry chutney could tell you how many websites are blocked in Iran?)
The culinary forces behind this event, as well as previous statistic-spiked dinners in Helsinki and Barcelona, were visualizer Moritz Stefaner and experimental-art curator Susanne Jaschko. "This was a very special data-cuisine event, since the data is really interesting and we created this food for 200 people in the end," emails Jaschko. (They had help from caterer Bestecklos Fingerfood Berlin.)
There'll be more info about the event in coming weeks on their website, but for now here's a taste of what was devoured, both gastronomically and intellectually: