Hosts and Speakers of Mixed Taste: At Home

What you missed in Mixed Taste: Polar Forests & Trendy Soul Food

Hosts and Speakers of Mixed Taste: At Home

Co-Hosts Sarah Baie and Charlie Miller and presenters Adrian Miller and Kirk Johnson in Mixed Taste At Home.

Our annual summer lecture series that combines two totally different topics for one evening of fun and weirdness kicked off last week in a digital way.

Did you miss out on the fun? Well, not to worry because it can be relived again and again thanks to the power of the interwebs. That’s right — other than no bathroom lines and everyone getting a front row seat, getting to catch up after the fact might be the next best thing about virtual programming.

Watch Mixed Taste: Polar Forests & Trendy Soul Food >

If you don’t have an hour to watch it (we get it, you’re busy), here’s a quick round-up of the highlights and fun facts you can throw out at your next Zoom happy hour.

Kirk Johnson presenting on Polar Forests.

Here’s a look at what Anchorage, Alaska probably looked like 50 million years ago.

3 things Kirk Johnson (Sant Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History) taught us about polar forests:

  1. Earth is in a constant battle between forests and ice. When it is warm and wet, the forests win, and when it is cold, the ice wins. For example, what are forests today in Boston may have been arctic tundra 12,000 years ago. Millions of years ago, the arctic was warm enough to support crocodiles, lotuses, and palm trees.
  2. Based on findings in Washington State of fossilized trees that only exist today in China, Kirk and his paleobotanist colleagues were able to determine that a forest used to span from the northern U.S. to Asia and Europe across the North Pole! How? There was enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to make the planet much warmer.
  3. If we continue burning fossil fuels at the rate we are burning them now, by the year 2100, our atmosphere will be like it was 50 million years ago and ice will lose to forests once again, resulting in rising sea levels. The global sea level has risen 13 inches since 1920, and we will gain 215 feet in global sea level by the year 2100.
Adrian Miller presenting on Trendy Soul Food

Adrian Miller gives soul food knowledge and relationship advice.

3 things Adrian Miller (Denver native, food writer, attorney and certified barbecue judge) taught us about trendy soul food:

  1. The term “soul food” is thought to have come out of the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 70s when the cuisine came into the mainstream and took on a great deal of cultural significance. But the phrase actually goes all the way back to the time of our dear friend William Shakespeare in Act 2, Scene 7 of Two Gentlemen of Verona describing a particularly hunky Proteus:

JULIA: O, know’st thou not his looks are my soul’s food?

Pity the dearth that I have pined in,

By longing for that food so long a time.

2. The history of soul food is the same as any immigrant food story: they did their best to recreate the dishes they knew and loved with the ingredients available to them. Soul food has roots in West Africa (where enslaved people were taken from) made with European ingredients (what was available to enslaved people in the British colonies).

3. Today’s soul food trends include “down home healthy” soul food, upscale soul food, and vegan soul food. There was also much debate in the chat about “Koolickles” — yep, Kool-Aid Pickles.

A Poetic Ending with Suzi Q. Smith

At the end of the night, we wrap up with a poem from a local poet inspired by both topics and written during the course of the evening.

Everything good comes from somewhere

Forests grow when it’s warm and wet

A slow-stewed pot of collard greens

A steam heat spice to tell time by

To transport and transcend

To time travel with a spoon or shovel

A pickaxe and a pocketknife

An ocean with an appetite

Holding the stories we almost don’t remember being haunted by

Feel the ice melt and sweat the glass of cayenne lemonade

Some might see a leaf

Some see the future of a million trees

Some might see seas

Some see a trail of breadcrumbs reminding us of our journey

Tropical to temperate

Tropical to polar

We recreate home

Some see a coalmine

Some see the swamp that made the coalmine

Some see the hands that dug the coalmine

And the gardens that sustain them

If you look long enough

Time tells on itself down home

If you dig down home

Can you dig palms in Alaska

If you dig time travel

Can you dig the ice choking out the trees

Keep choking out the ice

Telling new stories

We’ll forget about extinction

And maybe if you dig

I mean really dig

You’ll see nothing here is really new

Hold the story and skin of the yam

Add your weeping to the rising waters

Remember tree families can live up to 50 million years

Which is almost as good as forever

Maybe that means there’s hope for our memory

For the seeds we will leave behind

Watch Suzi read her poem here >

As fun as a round-up is, it can’t compare to the real thing. Sign-up for reminders about future Mixed Taste: At Home events happening every Wednesday at 7pm MT July 15 – August 19.

Upcoming Topics:

Wed, July 22 at 7pm MT
Keith Haring & Smog Meringues
Featuring Nora Burnett Abrams & Nicola Twilley

Wed, July 29 at 7pm MT
Napping & Slovenian Zombies
Featuring Maya Kroth & Nancy Wadsworth

Wed, Aug 5 at 7pm MT
Augmented Reality & The Cult of the Dead
Featuring Till Nowak & Elizabeth Harper

Wed, Aug 12 at 7pm MT
Church Signs & Icelandic Hip Hop
Featuring Joe York & Nathan Hall

Wed, Aug 19 at 7pm MT
Zeno’s Paradox & Artivism
Featuring Elisabeth Stade & Suzi Q. Smith

Mixed Taste was originated by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

Sponsored by:
Blueroom Investing Logo

With additional support by:
Peggy Finley