Behold the Jell-O shot, the last surviving member of one of the weirder culinary traditions: sculpted food.
Something about the foods that wiggle and jiggle took them out of food fashion decades ago.
But molds, aspics and Jell-Os – all actively forgotten in the annals of culinary history – will have their retrospective, their moment in the, well, not sun exactly because they might melt, but a kind of spotlight for sure.
This Sunday, the Durham Hotel is hosting an edible art show called “O Moldy Night,” reviving and celebrating the wonders and curiosities of sculpted foods, prepared by some of the area’s best chefs.
The free one-night pop-up museum will take up the lobby of the Durham. Chef Bill Smith of Crook’s Corner will bring a sculpted pork gelatin called “Corned Ham Yakamein.” Raleigh’s Escazu Chocolate will bring a molded concoction. Laura Ballance, of the Chapel Hill band Superchunk, is bringing a creation of pork liver and spleen.
And local artist Lauren Hart has created “Bojello,” a sweet tea gelatin within which Bojangles fried chicken is suspended. Many will attest to the art of Bojangles, and now Bojangles will become art.
All art can and will be consumed.
Even the drinks are semi-solid: a boozy mold of old fashioneds (mold fashioned) mixed by the Durham’s head bartender Kevin Coe and rum and Prosecco jello shots. To match the era of the vibe, Durham chef Andrea Reusing is making angels on horseback, a snack of oysters wrapped with bacon and gussied-up pigs in a blanket.
The show is 40 pieces altogether, each placed on a pedestal and curated by Kate Elia, a wine and beverage professional, food writer Emily Wallace and photojournalist Kate Medley.
Medley said “O Moldy Night” is intended to be an art show first and food show second. It was born from a joke among friends, but with skill and creativity, it’s become a full-fledged exhibition. Molds and gelatin dishes are mostly associated with a bygone time, but Medley said the show tends to look forward.
“Our interest is less of a look backwards to the glory days of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s for these foods, and more of a look forward to what molded foods could become in the globalized South,” Medley said.
The molds will be on display starting at 5 p.m. Trevor Schoonmaker, chief curator of Duke’s Nasher Museum will give a short talk on the art of sculpted foods, and then awards will be presented. The three-judge panel includes Durham Mayor Steve Schewel, James Beard Award-winning writer Ronni Lundy and contemporary art curator Teka Selman.
Seven awards will be given out, including “Back that Aspic” for best jiggle and “Crown Molding” for best in show.
For more details, go to thedurham.com.
Drew Jackson; 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson
“O Moldy Night” will be at 5 p.m. at The Durham, 315 E. Chapel Hill St., Durham. Admission is free, but RSVPs are encouraged at lobbycallomoldynight.brownpapertickets.com/.