Lemon energy crystals served two ways and topped with a chocolate splinter. Pineapple with charred sweet bread and lemon dust. These recipes are not on the menu of a fancy molecular restaurant. Quite the opposite indeed. These meals are actually Lithuanian and Chinese military combat rations. With the From MRE to Michelin project, photographer Henry Hargreaves styled and photographed army meals with a Michelin star restaurant design.
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“The idea was to bring two opposing worlds together that don’t crossover to see the results.” Says Henry Hargreaves to Archipanic. “We live in an time where the fascination of making food is more meaningful than just something to fill a hole. This is what we were trying to explore and have some fun with.”
Indeed, the MRE to Michelin photo-essay highlights and merges the two extremes in food design. At one end, a 100% energizing and practical approach that requires high-performing packaging engineering for emergency free meals. On the other end a bespoke balance of crafted flavours disposed in a pricy and exquisite design you almost feel sorry to ruin by eating it. Watch the behind the scenes video.
The series features recipes from China, France, South Korea and Lithuania but also Russia and the United States. The provocation and irony are quite evident. “Tasting plate of veal, deer pate, prunes, pork risotto with mushroom nougat, energy bar, cheese and biscuit”. Quite a fancy assortment for both French soldiers and spoiled foodies.
“If you look at the differences between countries there is a range of quality.” comments Hargreaves. The Chinese menu features noodles with tuna and sweet chili lime sauce. Mystery meat on crackers with chopped almonds and a drop of jam, all sprinkled with black tea dust… Is the Lithuanian proposal.
All images by Henry Hargreaves.