Zsofia Kollar

Wood Taste Food

The project investigates into the relationship of wood and food, how different species can effect the taste of certain food.

I was investigating the qualities of FSC wood to discover a new value. FSC has a wide range of species, but it all described by their colors, grains, durability and strength. I was looking through history and I found a strong connection between wood and food which is lost nowadays due to new technologies and the usage of plastic.

After my research I made pairs with certain food and wood, according how the wood effects the taste of the food. I used a milling machine to create textures, by increasing the surface of the wood the effect on the taste will be more intense.

Who doesn’t like BBQ? With no doubts smoked flavors can really add to the taste of our food, but direct smoke on our food products are not healthy. I smoked my wooden pieces to give a smoked flavor to the food.

I created my smoked wooden containers to add a new value of FSC wood. I believe we can also use wood as a new ingredient in our culinary culture. Wood also has an ability to clean itself, therefore we can use a new material to keep our food free of chemicals or artificial materials.

Everything in nature has a taste weather it’s pleasant or not. Since the very beginning of our history wood is an essential ingredient for our cooking, but instead of burning it, we can also use the quality of its taste. In the past people were using specific wood to spice up their food or drinks, but nowadays most of them are not commonly known.

During my research I was testing all kind of food, that could possibly match with certain wood. In the beginning I was investigating in bread dough, salt, vodka, chocolate, beans, pasta for example, but eventually I chosen butter, olives and raw meat to work out my idea. The pairs are mostly based on the match of taste but also the color, smell of the wood. In addition I also considered the beliefs of each food and wood.

My wood-food pairs:

  • oak - butter
  • iroko - olive
  • teak - steak

In Greek mythology, the oak is the tree sacred to Zeus, king of the gods. Today barrels in which wines, sherry and spirits such as brandy Irish whiskey, Scotch whiskey and Bourbon whiskey are aged are made from European and American oak. Oak wood chips are used for smoking fish, meat, cheese.

Butter of the herd is the celestial natural, milk of the flock is the celestial spiritual of the rational. Home butter-making took time and energy, but only needed simple equipment, usually made of wood. Butter can last up to 6-9 month after it’s been made.

The holy butter and the sacred oak is a combination of sweet vanilla, salty cream and some fruity smell. The experience is very sensational, the butter gained a new side. It can be a perfect snack on piece of bread next to a glass of single malt.

Teak wood has a leather-like smell when it is freshly milled. Leaves of the teak wood tree are used in making Pellakai gatti (jackfruit dumpling), where batter is poured into a teak leaf and is steamed.

Steak has become a popular dish in many places around the world, cooked in domestic as well as professional kitchens, and is often a primary ingredient in a menu.

The marination of the meat can last from 8 hours up until 1-2 days long. By closing the meat in a teak container the taste will differ from the usual. If the meat is prepared nutty taste will appear. First you sense some nuts, like freshly ground walnuts, then after a bit more earthy, like a wet soil flavor comes to the mouth. After some minutes after the last bite, some sweetness appears.

The iroko tree is feared in some cultures where it originates and hence is shunned or revered with offerings. Yoruba people claim that the spirit of the iroko can be heard on houses which use iroko wood, as the spirit of the iroko is trapped in the wood.

Olive oil has long been considered sacred. Over the years, the olive has been the symbol of peace, wisdom, glory, fertility, power and purity. Raw or fresh olives are naturally very bitter, to make them palatable, olives must be cured and fermented. The curing process may take from a few days, with lye, to a few months with brine or salt packing.

The glorified olive brings peace to the feared wood of iroko, or not. The combination of them has a very characteristic taste. The saltiness of olive is mild, you discover something new, but there is not anything close to compare it. It became a bit bitter, but not as much that it is not enjoyable. First it hardens its taste in mouth, after it leaves a warm wisdom. I would compare the experience to ‘Dutch black candy – drops’, sometimes you think it’s great, other day you hate it. Once you regret trying, other time it’s a victory.

Photos by Menno van Winden.