Maciek Jasik is a photographer from Poland, currently living in Brooklyn, NY. Jasik's series The Secret Lives of Fruits and Veggies is a series of mystical photos of fruit with smoke coming out of them. The series is about the histories behind all these fruits and vegetables we take for granted today. Most had been cultivated for hundreds or thousands of years and had been held in high regard for their various nutritional, mystical, healing qualities.
Maciek says, "I initially began this series purely to see what plumes of smoke emitted from fruits and vegetables would look like. Once I did, I saw each one having a very specific feel and personality. I then researched histories of each fruit and vegetable to gain a greater understanding of their histories."
Maciek's favorite fruits are raspberries, figs, avocados, and pineapples.
Jasik says that the modern world has separated us from the origins and uses of fruits and vegetables; we know them only for the flavors and textures they provide. Until only very recently, each held its own mystique, mythology, symbolism and connection to the culture and afterlife.
The following histories of fruits are told by Maciek Jasik himself:
Not only were the blueberry, tomato, squash, papaya, potato, and pineapple only available in the Americas until Columbus arrived in 1492, most of what we eat today was cultivated over thousands of years, from small, bitter origins, like the eggplant, or afterthoughts, like the wild cabbage that became cauliflower.
Watermelon originated in Africa as a largely bland, hard melon, but was prized for its ability to keep for months as a water source; they were buried with the pharaohs to aid their journey in the afterlife.
Partly through its influence as a folk medicine, the pomegranate became a symbol of life after death in Egypt—and of Christ’s suffering and resurrection in depictions by Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci. The Buddha considered it one of the three most blessed fruits. In ancient Greece, Hades lured Persephone to his underworld with pomegranate seeds.
Mark Twain famously said “the peach began as a bitter almond,” as it evolved from a pit with minimal flesh over 3,000 years of domestication in China into a sweet, juicy symbol of long life and divine powers. Local Chinese magistrates would hang peach wood branches on their doors to fend off evil spirits.
For the Native Americans, squashes and pumpkins were essential to their agricultural approach. They planted “The Three Sisters,” corn, beans and pumpkins, together. The corn stalk would act as a natural trail for the bean vines and the beans put nitrogen into the soil for the corn. By providing shelter, the pumpkin vines would keep moisture in.
I've eaten durian in Thailand and loved it. It's really best fresh there, though I've had some from Chinatown in NYC and it was OK
I think it's possible for fruits to have healing abilities, but they have to be cultivated organically in nutrient-rich soil.
This series aims to reintroduce these mystical, invisible qualities to fruits and vegetables that have been lost amidst the clamor of nutritional statistics. Each offers its own indelible powers beyond our narrow habits of thought.
See the full series in the gallery below.