“I’m thinking of getting into mushrooms.”
We were exploring the last remaining lung of Manila, the Arroceros Forest Park, one drizzly afternoon when my friend all of a sudden tells me this—and no, we were not alone. It was a group tour, so I had to shush him. “Why would you think that? Is it even legal here?” I said. Of course, it is not.
He said watching “Midsommar” made him consider it. We sooner got over the idea of consuming these hallucinatory edibles after scouring the park and finding none (what did we expect?)
In London (where it is also illegal), two Filipinas are also fascinated by these fungi—but not the trippy ones, at least. Sai Villafuerte, a journalist who covers culture stories for international publications, and Kat Fernando, a graduate of the London College of Fashion, are behind Edsa, a creative collaboration that interrogates Eurasian culture and at the same time explores the intersection of food and creativity.
Lucky for them, they don’t need to do much researching whether regarding hallucinatory ones or culinary-grade variants, as on Oct. 6, Fungi Fest, an all-day series of talks, workshops, and commerce that center on the wonders of these fungi.
There will be scientists talking about the environmental contributions of mushrooms (apart of course from being a source of sustenance) like how it helps lessen the carbon in the atmosphere. But apart from that, there are merch and art booths. And this is where the creative duo’s work comes in.
Villafuerte and Fernando through Edsa are launching two sweatshirt designs that allude to the magical abilities of mushrooms—kidding. Or at least it’s not just that. But some may read it that way, as the embroidered statement on the sweatshirts reads: “If you feel good, the mushrooms will feel good too.”
But the duo explains that it actually has more to do with the organisms’ importance in the ecosystem and to the culinary world.
“It captures the intuition chefs and farmers rely on in their work—to ‘feel’ what is needed for flavourful food or in balancing the elements of the natural world. These elements include soil, plants, animals and, of course, fungi—the ‘digestive enzymes’ of the environment, decomposing organic and synthetic materials to spin out our carbon cycle,” Villafuerte said.
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Fungi are fundamental to life on earth 🍄 They inhabit the air, soil and water. They spin out our carbon cycle, representing the process of life and death through the decomposition of organic and synthetic matter, such as dead roots and fruits, petroleum and metals. Psychedelic strains have fostered spiritual journeys across cultures and time. Fungi have brought mystical elements to folklore, fairytales and literature. They have been used for centuries in medicinal practices; they make our antibiotics, vitamins. Edible varieties have made their way into all culinary cultures. Simply, fungi challenge our understanding of ecology, systems, culture and consciousness. While people and cultures all over the world have a relationship with fungi, they are rarely celebrated. The work fungi do are so often left in the dark; its alien-like forms and complex behaviours often misunderstood or under-represented. . . We hope you can embark on this mycelial journey with us and @fertilegrounds.art at #fungifestuk this Sunday, 6 October, at Hoxton Docks, London. We’ll be selling a capsule collection of mushroom-inspired sweatshirts to get you cosy for the fall 🍂 Illustration by Amy Ross (@naturemorph)
A post shared by Edsa • Delicious Creativity (@edsa.life) on
But they are not denying the fact that it also conveys a dual meaning, which makes the design all the more interesting, especially for us, who want to get into mushrooms but can’t for both legal and logistical reasons. At least, these sweatshirts make it look like we know how it feels, okay?
Although, these Filipinas’ creative pursuits don’t end there—at least where the mushrooms and the Fungi Fest are concerned.
They are also debuting a campaign where chefs and creatives wear sweatshirts inscribed with their responses to the question: “What makes you feel good about what you do?”
Villafuerte and Fernando explain that it is an act of “recording an ethnographic account of individuals’ creative processes, their ‘Path of Delicious Creativity.’ Thus, this debut collection conveys Edsa’s central purpose: to explore the junctions where food and creativity meet; to embark on the journey we all take to get from one place—or one idea—to another.”
Photos courtesy of Edsa
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Writer: CHRISTIAN SAN JOSE