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Stone food

This is one banquet that's a feast for the eyes, not the stomach.

by: Reuters | 04 Jul 2007

A Taiwanese artist has managed to combine geology with gastronomy, creating mouth-watering "dishes" out of minerals and rocks with a striking resemblance to food in an exhibit on display at the National Museum of Singapore.

Hsu Chun-I's "A Banquet in Stone", on display at the National Museum of Singapore, showcases some 50 pieces from a collection of more than 250 dishes that has taken him 21 years to create.

"I love to eat," chuckles Hsu, a 60-year-old retired engineer who is exhibiting his creations for the first time outside Taipei. "I also do most of the cooking at home. But what really inspired me was the fact that food is such a universal topic."

Hsu says his hobby started two decades ago after seeing the popularity of two display pieces at the National Palace Museum in Taiwan, a piece of jade that resembled a cabbage and another stone that looked like roast pork.

"They seemed to me to be the most visited articles in the museum, people loved them," he said. "It was then that I decided that I would like to do something similar."

Hsu is one of several stone collectors who share a similar hobby but his works stand out because he does not modify the stones or minerals he uses in any way.

And the menu is diverse, ranging from Hsu's favourite, pig's trotters and eggs in dark soya sauce which he says "looks just like the real thing, to special occasion Chinese food such as bear's paw, shark fin soup and abalone to home-cooked meals and snacks such as fried rice, steamed mutton thigh, and "bak kut teh" or pork rib soup.

But the highlight of this feast has to be the jinxiang stone from Yunnan in China which not only looks like chocolate, but smells like it too due to the break-down of organic materials in its environment. And that's one piece of stone that you'd be tempted to eat.

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