Food As Art – Can Food Be Art?

I recently heard an art critic say that cooking food is not creating art. “Art is personal,” he said. “Art evokes passionate emotions, be they of revelry or revulsion…and food doesn’t do this.” (But could he have remained dispassionate if he’d eaten The Perfect Peach Pie That Pleases Picky People And Precious Pets or had the misfortune to taste my faux-squirrel stew?)

“Art,” he insists, “transports the participant to a deep place within”. (This shouldn’t be confused with transporting the food itself to that deep place within. But if the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, then I’d say that a whole lot of transporting something or other is going on.)

“Considering food as art,” the critic continued, “is to consider the fervor of the chef in the act of creation. The chef may be expressing soulful passions in the heat of the kitchen, but the diner’s moment of consumption is the defining criterion for judging the food as art. And while the resulting food on a plate is attractive, it’s hardly a masterpiece the caliber of the Mona Lisa”. True, Da Vinci’s works are feasts for the eyes, but are feasts for the tongue categorically inferior?

Aesthetics aside, simply in economic terms, no single gourmet meal ever demands the dear price of millions of dollars. But biologically-speaking, which is more valuable on a winter’s eve? – a good chicken soup or a stylized rendition of a Campbell’s soup can?

I find the question of food as art as murky as industrial dishwater. Perhaps I’m all mixed up like a roux, or not. Keep reading for more thoughts on food as art.

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