Tag Archives: Sticky Institute

analogue Feltron report?

I’m sure all you hip cats are familiar with the Feltron reports, these amazing records of beauty that makes Percy Grainger look sane. Grainger was an obsessive saver and chronicler of his life (it’s myth but the rumour that his cancerous balls preserved in formalin exist somewhere in the Grainger Museum on the Parkville Campus of Melbourne University – dream large guys!). As part of one compulsory musicology subject I took, it required working at the Grainger Museum and doing some Grainger-related research.

One afternoon, I was present when a fifty-year old archive box was emptied out. A small object was wrapped in tissue paper and very carefully unwrapped.

It turned out be a fifty-year-old piece of chocolate bitten into by Grainger’s mother. You could see her teethmarks. Macabre and yet fascinating.

So Feltron ain’t got nothing on him, though we all too can keep similar such statistics by using Daytum. I use Daytum like a mofo but only have displays of things like what I read for public show.

The following zinester, Deth P. Sun of Berkeley, CA has made a zine that to me was what I imagine an analogue Feltron report to look like – it is an obsessive document from September 2009 to February 2010 chronicling what the author has eaten in illustrated form. Both obsessive, a little unsettling and inspiring an odd sort of protectiveness for someone I don’t know and will never ever meet.

In some sort of solidarity, I thought it’d be fun to post partial contents of the pantry of the place I currently call home. Getting a glimpse into a bad cookie-foodie’s pantry is a bit…confessional. Try not to judge me…too harshly.

The Various Things I Eat zine

So is the zine any good? Yes! The illustrations while candid are adorable and carefully drawn and it’s pretty text-sparse given it’s a visual record. See below for an example of a page that typically outlines the author’s consumption which begs some assumptions and questions – he does not really eat that much, or dine out a lot. It makes me wonder just how much this reveals about the author – is he not affluent or struggles financially? Is he not fond of dining out? Does he (and this is uttered in genuine concern) have issues with eating and perhaps not eat as much as he should?

The Various Things I Eat zine, detail

It’s a bit of a different story when he’s on what looks to be holidays and I confess I am relieved to see a lot more entries for the days on the following page.

The Various Things I Eat zine, detail

An utterly charming zine, purchased at zine Mecca Sticky Institute in the Degraves St subway (conveniently located across from Cup of Truth, mmm…). I did buy it a while back for $4 so it might not be around anymore but I highly recommend it if you can find it.

The Various Things I Eat zine, back

It’s a really meticulous, intimate snapshot into an artist’s life and particularly commendable is the zinester really putting themselves out there for intense scrutiny. That often makes for the best art, would you not agree?

macarons are not macaroons and there’s a whole zine to tell you

Macarons Are Not Macaroons

When Melbourne food blogger matriarch Claire of Melbourne Gastronome egged me on (haha, see what I did there) to purchase a copy of the zine Macarons Are Not Macaroons, this newbie food blogger did so. Sadly, I was once one of those who didn’t really know the difference between a macaron and a macaroon, and had no qualms about admitting it on Claire’s blog via comments a few months ago. Thus, financial damage occurred and zine nirvana Sticky Institute was the richer for it.

You only have to check the Masterchef hashtag on Twitter to see how much ire the show inspires. I haven’t seen all that much of it (somewhat weird given every Tom, Dick and Harriet of the slightest foodie leanings is watching it) but yes, I have noticed that it attracts a lot of critical (as in bitching and moaning -not high-brow analysis) commentary, much of it warranted.

The author of Macarons Are Not Macaroons is no different. On the first page of the zine some of her mission statement reads:

“…And for anyone who watched Master Chef in 2009 that stood up and yelled at the TV as that panel of Professional Chefs and Eaters crunched into burnt macarons and called them macaroons.”

What follows is the author’s part-instructional guide, part-life story bound up in macaron obsession.

She starts off by explaining a bit of her involvement and interest in the Lolita subculture, and how everything has to look doll-like and cute, and sugary. Macarons apparently fit this subculture’s aesthetic perfectly – indeed, they are delicate, morsel-sized and very pretty in their pastel colours. All of these things are also very high-maintenance: macarons are, according to the zine, very fiddly bastards to make. I wouldn’t stand a chance in the Lolita subculture, preferring to be dressed for comfort (read: scruffy). I suspect that macaron-making would also drive me a little batty.

I find there is something quite carnivalesque and sinister about a world made of candies, sweets, ruffles and consummate prettiness – think Sofia Coppola’s film Marie Antoinette. The main protagonist constructs a gorgeous candy-pastel world but she does not have a happy life. If we want to go down an even more grotesque path, I can recommend the Korean film Hansel and Gretel – a modern take on an evil witch seducing and entrapping children using the lure of sweets. At first the kids think it’s fantastic that there’s always cake and all these pretty sweets to eat, but then it becomes a bit weird…even they twig that cake and cupcakes isn’t suitable for every meal.

So…I ask you, is the macaron a delightful being, or a beast designed to bring you to your personal downfall? The zine author would argue the latter. Doctor Faustus turned to Mephistopheles in pain despite all his knowledge. Macaron makers would, I fear, be inspired to do the same – chase the perfect macaron but turn to the dark side in despair…

The bulk of the zine is devoted to educating the reader upon the subtle differences between macarons and macaroons, saving up for expensive equipment to cook these tricky buggers and inadvertently driving the people she lives with mad with her own obsessive hunt to perfect her technique. There’s a lot of different recipes, and she also discusses where to get good macarons in Melbourne, and where to avoid getting substandard ones.

My major gripe with this zine is that…if the macaron is held up as the object of obsession for the length of the zine, then how on earth is it that the author never spells ganache correctly? The ganache is an integral part to the macaron, and it’s not misspelt just once but throughout the entire zine, except where she’s pasted recipes gleaned or ripped out from other books or magazines. The macaron pedant in me rages (the pedant more than the macaron-lover, admittedly). However, if you don’t mind shelling out $4 for a nice, thick zine on macarons, then you can find it at Sticky Institute in the city, or online via their mail order department.

(cheers to the tech guy-monkey for some editorial clarification)