Glow in the Dark Jellies and Punch Bowl Ponds

You might remember reading about the arty British food architectural/design duo Bompas & Parr when they did an installation in a London club where guests could inhale their gin and tonics via booze mist rather than drink them. But they are best known for their custom work in the medium of jelly (yes that’s Jell-O to us Americans). We caught up with Sam Bompas after the pair’s visit to San Francisco to create an edible glow-in-the-dark-jelly installation at the Museum of Modern Art (pictured) to ask him how they did it.

“We worked with a chemical explosives expert, and we said, ‘We really want to come up with something that glows in the dark.’ And he came up with all these compounds, and a self detonating jelly,” says Bompas. But ultimately they settled on an edible, non-explosive option. The secret ingredient turned out to be quinine, the same stuff found in tonic water. When you shine a black light on jellies made with it, explains Bompas, they will re-emit the blue light at the barely visible edge of the light spectrum which makes it look like they are glowing. The SFMOMA jellies were sherry and tonic flavored.

Last week they served Londoners an all-black food banquet (more to come in Los Angeles and New York the new year). This week, they’re serving five-course futuristic dinners on a train, which begin with lavender marshmallows laced with phenethylamine, the supposed “love drug” found in chocolate. Once, they served them and a man exposed himself. “The finger bowls have a colony of leeches in them, so people have to risk getting bitten by a colony of leeches,” says Bompas.

How do you top leech-filled fingerbowls? A crapload of booze. The duo plans to flood a London building in December with so much cocktail that you can row a boat across it for their “architectural punchbowl.” How are they going to keep people from jumping in? “We’re still figuring that out.”

Photo courtesy of Charles Villyard. See the entire gallery of the SFMOMA Bompas & Parr installation here.