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:

Uli Holz/Data Cuisine/MiCT

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:

Mobile-phone contracts vs. electrical access in Mali (North African-style lamb meatballs with chili sauce)
Tweets broken down per Middle-Eastern countries (tabouleh with panna cotta made from ayran, a salty yogurt drink popular in Turkey and elsewhere)
The minute-by-minute cost of Internet usage in Cuba (black-bean "hummus" with puff pastry, tomato chutney, and black sesame)

Percentage of Arabic social-media posts expressing support for IS, the militant group also known as ISIS and ISIL (Asian-style omelet with mango curry, minty yogurt, and mayonnaise)
The number of blocked and accessible websites in Iran, and the percentage of young people who access blocked sites with proxy servers (saffron risotto with turmeric chicken and barberry, an acidic-tasting spice often used in Persian cuisine)
Number of people working in state-run media outlets in various Middle-Eastern countries (potato confit and potato foam with peppers and parsley)
Uli Holz/Data Cuisine/MiCT

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Coronavirus

    Why Asian Countries Have Succeeded in Flattening the Curve

    To help flatten the curve in the Covid-19 outbreak, officials at all levels of government are asking people to stay home. Here's what’s worked, and what hasn't.

  2. photo: South Korean soldiers attempt to disinfect the sidewalks of Seoul's Gagnam district in response to the spread of COVID-19.
    Coronavirus

    Pandemics Are Also an Urban Planning Problem

    Will COVID-19 change how cities are designed? Michele Acuto of the Connected Cities Lab talks about density, urbanization and pandemic preparation.  

  3. Equity

    The Problem With a Coronavirus Rent Strike

    Because of coronavirus, millions of tenants won’t be able to write rent checks. But calls for a rent holiday often ignore the longer-term economic effects.

  4. photo: a bicycle rider wearing a mask in London
    Coronavirus

    In a Global Health Emergency, the Bicycle Shines

    As the coronavirus crisis forces changes in transportation, some cities are building bike lanes and protecting cycling shops. Here’s why that makes sense.

  5. photo: an empty street in NYC
    Coronavirus

    What a Coronavirus Recovery Could Look Like

    Urban resilience expert Michael Berkowitz shares ideas about how U.S. cities can come back stronger from the social and economic disruption of coronavirus.

×