Edinburgh Food Studio was born out of our desire to create a resource that explored the nature of the food we eat, particularly in Scotland. The cooking side has kept us pretty busy so we've not had as much time as we would have liked to do this, but we've been lucky enough to have people contribute pieces that have.
Oats are often overlooked as simple, plain ingredients, playing deference to far sexier ingredients and dishes, however they are uniquely interwoven into the Scottish diet and landscape. In her gorgeous study, Alex Genis has picked up the humble oat and explored its unique role in British culture both past, present and future...
Alex’s piece on oats is a complete miscellany and a love letter of sorts to Scotland’s staple. We really want you to take the time to read it, maybe over a bowl of porridge, a clootie dumpling or some oatcakes. So won’t give it all away now!
This piece takes the form of a digital and visual ‘pamphlet’ and traces the history of the oat, and cereals more generally, marking their importance in the civilisation of nomadic tribes, the agricultural nature of cereal believed to be one of the key factors in tribes settling. More specifically Alex looks at how the oat, fueller of the roman empire, but overlooked by most other food cultures as animal fodder, has become so intrinsically linked to the Scottish identity and how for many years oats were considered to be the reason the Scots were so healthy and braw - a far cry from the stereotype of today!
She dissects both the history and the nature of an oat visually, blending this with some of the more outlandish folklore that comes with something so entwined with our culture.
And finally, she gives us some inspiration for dishes and uses, by way of a whistle stop tour of the menu of possibility that exists with the humble oat, old and new, lost and found.
Alexandra Genis is a Russian born, German-raised food designer, currently graduating at the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands. In her work she explores the true nature of food, stripped of cultural doctrines and calibrates potential future applications for edible materials - focusing on the chemical interaction of food with the living body.
In 2017 she spent 3 months at EFS to get experience in cooking techniques and gastronomy. The oats project came into being when she read that the cereal used to be a Scottish staple and was intrigued that a grain which seems so one-sided and bland could have so many applications, her research into old Scottish cookbooks led her to discover over 100 recipes of all kinds of dishes made from oats. From these she made a 10 course dinner for the EFS crew and wrote and illustrated the paper on oats. Alex has a website coming soon which we'll share when it's live!
All images belong to Alex Genis and are not for reproduction without permission.