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Bēhance

Martin Parr & The Art of Dining Say Cheese in Tokyo

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  • On the seventh floor of an office building, you enter a typical English café setting with gingham table cloths, plastic flowers on the table, pictures of Lady Di and Mrs T, copies of the Sun and other very British items adorning the surroundings. The waiting staff are mostly English, wearing floral pinnies, and the five courses are all based on different Parr photos. But there is a twist: the food looks just like the images but tastes completely unlike what you expect. An English tea cup is filled with a tea coloured liquid, poured from a tea pot, which turns out to be a delicious Thai broth. A doughnut is actually savoury, made from lentils and served with a coconut chutney. Fish and chips are served in a Tesco bag. Lurid orange fairy cakes turn out to be moist carrot cakes served with a fragrant chai. Each course is introduced by Alice, holding up a postcard of the image. The diners take away a signed set of MP postcards showing the meal they have just eaten.
     
    With the help of producer and entrepreneur Ivan Vatarin (fortuitously a fluent Japanese speaker) the girls managed to source the ingredients - including cod from the famous Tokyo fish market - and the four nights of the pop up sold out with Ivan's extensive network.. Pop up restaurants are not known in Japan, so this was a difficult concept to grasp at first. But the excitement and challenge of a kind of greasy spoon theme park attracted people from across Tokyo. The food was relished and seemed to cause delight and amusement amongst the customers.
    - Martin Parr