Interview: Magnus Nilsson
I interviewed Magnus Nilsson about his recent book Faviken: 4015 Days, Beginning to End last week (Thursday 14 Nov 2020)
Not only did I focus this conversation on one book but I also wanted to talk specifically about two essays and one recipe*.
A couple of confessions. Firstly, we were gifted this book (our thoughts and approach to gifting is here). Secondly, the only way I can describe this book is one of seduction. I love it. Why? Because it makes me question things I had thought about ‘fine dining’, it also made me nod my head furiously in agreement, I was deeply moved by a lot of the emotional exploration; and to me, it’s an exotic and beautiful product. The landscape of North Sweden is deeply embedded in the book, both in photography and words and recipes. This is a world that feels remote and magical, from my life experiences.
To be honest I felt a little overwhelmed to meet [via zoom] Magnus because there was much I wanted to explore and talk about from the book, plus there is a mysticism about Fäviken. It can be difficult meeting people who you regard highly and who are held up in within an industry - what is real and what is the story? And, as someone who is constantly trying to break with status quo, build new systems, change ways of thinking, I am always curious about those figures. So it was very pleasing to have had such interesting conversation, and it was really good insight into Magnus' practices.
The recipe I focused on was 'A cake of pine tree bark, pudding of cream, acidic herbs and frozen buttermilk' (pg 102), and the essays were the self-reflective and critical thinking one on haute cuisine (pg 66), and the accompanied piece on the idea of produce (pg 70). These pieces made me think about what is sourcing, how to you do it, what is a way of understanding sourcing, and how can we think about sourcing on a daily basis? You will hear that the heart of all of this, for Magnus, is people.
* Most of the work published on Source references a wide research pool and in-depth look at a question, as opposed to one person or one point of reference/book. But, as we have mentioned elsewhere, focusing in can lead to a wider understanding which is why we look at ingredients to talk about global food systems and breakdown the year into themed seasons. Our audio series gives us this space for a narrow focus and will be how we build up this publishing stream.
PHOTO CREDITS: Fäviken: 4015 Days, Beginning to End by Magnus Nilsson is published by Phaidon. Photography by Erik Olsson.