With or without wings

By Ana Caballero Feet – what do I need you for when I have wings to fly? – Frida Kahlo Wings have long been associated with a poetic dimension, one of fantasy, freedom and elevation. Insects, on the other hand (at least in the western mindset), connote something much lower; they are an object of dislike and disgust. So it is ironic that one of the keys of success for the insect world – with over a million named species – has been the evolution of flight [1]. This sturdy yet elegant structure has provided great inspiration to biomimetic engineers – recently, for example, studies of the desert locust wing have lead to new kinds of design for lightweight aircraft vehicles [2]. Although from a biomimetic perspective the locust wing proves fascinating, at the Lab we are more interested in its constitution for consumability than for performance. The month of … Read more

Birch SAP – a seasonally active pulse

posted by Ana Caballero Trees absorb water and nutrients through their roots from the soil. The water is passively conducted upward by xylem vessels to the leaves, where photosynthesis converts carbon dioxide into sugars. After this transformation, the sugar-rich water is distributed through the phloem to all sites of growth: buds, branches, blooms, roots, and fruits. This medium of circulation in higher plants is known as sap. [1] Due to the success of its syrup industry, the sap most people are acquainted with is that of maple trees (Aceraceae) growing mainly in Northern America. In Eurasia, although of significantly less economic impact, the predominant sap comes from birch trees (Betulaceae family). The only part of this continental mass where birch sap has been gathered industrially was within the Soviet Union. Its transformation for various cosmetic, medicinal and edible uses was relevant to the soviet economic system. Hence, much of the research … Read more

The Whole Hive

posted by Guillemette Barthouil, recipe development for our Pestival menu Stories on limitation. In a contemporary context of infinite possibilities we look for constraints, both to challenge our creativity and give meaning to our action. Following the seasons, exploring a territory, collaborating with crazy producers… looking into these constructive interactions to push you to do better. Blossoms are out in the Denmark and, like us, bees are flying around in search of fresh and tasty food.  Having lived on their own honey during winter, they are now looking for flower nectar, pollen, tree sap and resin to produce the honey, bee bread, propolis, royal jelly [1] and beeswax necessary for the hive community. With the exception of honey, bee products are mainly considered medicinal. We eat them not because they are good but because they are good for us. Yet the bee hive produces a wide palette of fascinating flavours, which is rather incredible considering they all … Read more


by Josh Evans. We spent the month of April on insects, delving into new species, amassing as large a collection of ingredients and flavours as possible. In this case we were working for a specific goal: a menu of tastings for an event at the Wellcome Collection in London, entitled ‘Exploring the Deliciousness of Insects’. The event was part of a larger mobile festival, called ‘Pestival‘, devoted to “the art of being an insect” and exploring the interactions between insects and humans through arts, science, and educational experiences meant to incite curiosity and wonder. The event spanned two evenings, April 30th and May 1st. Marcel Dicke from Wageningen University in the Netherlands opened with a short talk, after which Michael and Ben took the stage to share our research and lead the 60 or so guests through the tastings, describing our process and, inevitably, cracking a few jokes. We expanded … Read more

Bushifying away the boar taint pt. 2

posted by Anne Overmark continued from Bushifying away the boar taintexcerpted from Anne’s MSc thesis entitled ‘Pork bushi – a gastronomic approach to tasty usage of boar-tainted pork’ After 50 days the pork filets were removed from the climate chamber. During the stay in the climate chamber the filets had lost a lot of weight and they ended up with an approximate average final moisture content of 19%, which is very similar to what is found in katsuobushi (18-20%). Fresh lean muscle (m. Longissimus dorsi) contains around 74% moisture and due to the dry nature of the pork bushi, the character of the meat had completely changed. When struck it now sounded like a resonant piece of wood and it took a lot of effort to slice it. The smell was pleasant with notes of smoke and dried meat, almost comparable to a Parma ham.  As the filets were going … Read more

Big News

by Josh Evans. Our official press release: Major funding awarded for edible insect research in Denmark Velux Foundation to support Nordic Food Lab’s development of Western insect gastronomy COPENHAGEN – May 16, 2013 – Nordic Food Lab and University of Copenhagen have received funding to expand their research into insect gastronomy. While other researchers are focussing on environmental and nutritional benefits of entomophagy, Nordic Food Lab is working to make insects delicious to the Western palate and thus bring them into its culinary culture. The project is funded by The Velux Foundation’s program for environment and sustainability. The Foundation has granted 3.6 million Danish Kroner for the project entitled ‘Discerning Taste: Deliciousness as an Argument for Entomophagy’. Nordic Food Lab has formed an international advisory board for the project, bringing together experts in entomology, gastronomy, psychology, and sustainable food systems from around the world. The board includes: Alex founded D.O.M. … Read more