Subtraction

In the house where I grew up Good Friday was traditionally a day when we abstained from meat products and alcohol.

It felt like our way of showing respect for Christ’s sacrifice was denying ourselves meat (which was a ingredient of every evening meal).

In years gone by, this day was the one occasion where every business was closed for the day.

Today in Sydney that’s not the case. As I walked around the city I saw a number of business open including my new favourite cafe Paramount Coffee Project.

I didn’t stop to look at the menu, but afterwards I wondered whether they were serving meat today. I imagined that some patrons might be disappointed if they discovered that the brunch mainstay of bacon wasn’t available. As if bacon has become an inalienable right (with apologies to my non pork-eating friends).

Then I imagined how today could be framed as an opportunity, with a note like this added to the menu today.

“Traditionally meat products are not served on Good Friday. While not all of us at Paramount are religious, we thought this would be a good opportunity for us to offer some creative vegetarian options today. We like to think of it as an unexpected win for our diners who never eat meat, our show of respect for today’s holiday and the chance for bacon lovers to experiment with something new. Our regular menu will be back tomorrow.”

Rather than focus on any cultural sensitivity or political correctness (both which have their purposes), my interest here is how subtracting an ingredient we come to unconsciously rely on might foster fresh creativity.

How might we use the same idea in our own creative projects? What staple ingredient could you abstain from using and how might it encourage you to approach your work differently?

Maybe, just as when you subtract one element from a recipe, you’ll start to appreciate the nuances of the other ingredients in a new way.

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