Last week, Iftach Gazit, a student at Israel’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, debuted a bag he’s dubbed “Sous La Vie” (quite literally, “under life”). It’s an art project—not a real product, at least not yet—that promises to bring sous vide cooking to the convenience of your washing machine.
In his project, Gazit’s taken waterproof bags made of DuPont Tyvek industrial fabric with uncooked ingredients for various meals inside, from salmon in teriyaki sauce to vegetables in olive oil. Each bag is printed with washing instructions that double as cooking instructions. Set your cycle and watch it go. Clean your linens, cook a steak.
Again, this product is a hypothetical one; Gazit has no plans to roll it out anytime soon. Instead, he's using it as a form of social commentary: Gazit was moved to create this project after a recent visit to New York, where he was alarmed by the city’s large homeless population and the barriers they faced to what he perceived as basic human rights—like, for example, food. Laundromats, he discovered, were vital sites of refuge for the homeless. He began to wonder, then, whether it'd be possible to cook some food there.
“The food we eat, and the way we eat it, reflects on our taste but much more on our economic abilities and culture,” Gazit writes on his website. To bolster this thesis, Gazit points to the advent of the TV dinner in the United States in the postwar era, and how it was the result of more women being occupied by day jobs. It fulfilled a certain need in America's social landscape for fast, easy meals prepped with minimal effort. Could the “sous la vie” bag be our generation’s TV dinner, solving this problem of access for those without a permanent home? This question is the tease of his project.
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Some may find Gazit's argument a reach, and you’re entitled to that takeaway; most of the coverage I've seen has been pretty glib, dismissing this project offhand as the byproduct of some design student’s boredom. But I honestly find his aims difficult to criticize. What's so stupid about imagining new possibilities for how to get more food to more people? We've all got to eat.
What's your take on the "Sous La Vie" project: crazy or genius? Let us know in the comments.
Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.