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Inspiration with heart and mind

Franziska Kunze © Cristian Castelnuovo

Sometimes inspiration comes to Franziska Kunze right in the middle of her day. As it did recently when she was at the market and spotted a pig’s heart in the butcher’s window. She knew there and then she’d buy the heart, even though she didn’t yet know how she was going to prepare it.

So she put the pig’s heart in her bicycle shopping basket and cycled home. At her kitchen table she started looking up ways of getting the best out of the heart. The 29-year-old German certainly has a purposeful approach to food. In fact, it was in Italy, at the Slow Food University in Bra and elsewhere, that she acquired the understanding and know-how that now feeds her passion.

It’s an approach that’s also reflected in her way of speaking. She stretches out her sentences, pauses, relishes those pauses, and gives them space. It’s how her energy, inspiration and creativity express themselves. When she’s cooking (something she does several times a day), she lets herself be inspired by the feelings, flavours and forms she finds in her fridge and larder. Or she imagines a culture into which she’d like to immerse herself, or an emotion she’s keen to conjure up with her food.

But regardless of her impulses Franziska works with the utmost precision. As a course instructor for sourdough bread and croissants she knows the processes, baking times, temperatures and mixing ratios needed to bake perfect crusty bread. Time and again, she breaks all the ingredients and stages down into their individual constituents and studies the ways in which they interact, before reassembling them into a new whole. Beyond bread baking itself she studies the fermentation process of foods and plays an active role in supportive farming. This involves producers and consumers joining forces as part of an association and sharing the responsibility and the risk as well as the profits. For her, preparing food well is fundamental to doing justice to the produce and all the hard work that producers have invested into it. So ruining a pig’s heart in a frying pan would be nothing short of a catastrophe...