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“A Saudade” – Food Storytelling | Creating new sensory memories

By Cláudia Viegas, Maria José Pires and Ricardo Bonacho; ESHTE (Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies), University of Lisbon (ULICES) and Faculdade de Arquitetura da Universidade de Lisboa (CIAUD)

As part of a multi-disciplinary academic project, the design of our culinary experience (the Portuguese) “A Saudade” (2016), inspired by the Spanish Roca brothers’ “El somni” (2013), became a meta-territorial task with a distinguished identity. Throughout a process of musical translation, modern original creations of the traditional Portuguese guitar culminate in a bold and innovative musical confluence for each of the ten moments – from the research on chemosensory perception pairing sound and flavour. The innovation, however, lies also in building correlations of sounds and odours, with the contribution of a parfumiste who creates a harmony of smells between the printed invitation and the initial moment of the experience which triggers the twelve guests’ memory. It is such a mental faculty of retaining and recalling past experiences that perfectly suites the theme “saudade” – a feeling philosophically considered to be the essence of the Portuguese soul for involving both remembrance (of having rejoiced in past times), penalty (for not enjoying the present or a memory), desire and hope (of returning to the old state of happiness).

Because food memories, as recollecting experiences, shape the future, the guests live several moments that take them in a journey along simultaneously past gastronomic traditions, discoveries and innovative fusions. The sensory experience is accomplished by visual references projected on a time capsule, and specific lighting sets the thermal perception of each moment, also offered through a particular cork floor. Central to this identity experience there is a narrative of flavours and shapes, inspired by a multi-layered dialogue through unique tableware, creating games of seduction guided by a storyteller. The harmony of declaimed poetry feeds the spirit before every moment. It was through guided interviews focusing on both expectations and feedback of the experience that the guests depicted a memorable experience. Storytelling food through new sensory memories.