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Food As Art

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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Chef’s Challenge: Cook The Same Meal For 4 People Who Like Different Foods

Picture this: 4 people (call them A,B,C, and D) sit down at a table.

A and B like spicy food; C and D like bland.

B and D like fatty meats, such as ribs and brisket, A prefers lean meats like chicken, C does not like meat.

A loves vegetables, B will eat most vegetables, D will eat some vegetables, and C gags on vegetables.

C savors starch such as pasta, rice, and potatoes, B and D eat them moderately, A equates eating them with lobbing lead into the stomach.

The chef’s challenge: cook the same, healthy meal for all 4 people. The meal must be enjoyed such that everyone eats, and no one complains or sneaks handfuls to the dog.

If you can cook one meal for these 4 people, (and you probably do if you are a parent of young children) you can join Cristie’s Cooks Club where our motto is: Can we cook it? YES WE CAN!

So, have club members found a perfect food that pleases all palettes, or a particular combo of tastes that pacifies the picky? Or perhaps there are ways to disguise questionable foods and slip them incognito on to the plate? Maybe, but I haven’t found them yet.

I win by fudging the rules of the chef’s challenge. I stretch the requirement of the “same meal”. To please a spouse who insists the kids should “eat what we eat” and “not be made different dinners,” I broadly interpret the boundaries of “sameness”.

For example, last night our “same meal” was a “spaghetti dinner”. Now, the creative cook realizes that spaghetti appears in multiple forms. Obviously, spaghetti is that long, starchy pasta. But it also is a football-sized, yellow squash – the spaghetti squash, found in most supermarkets. I’m not kidding – its sticker even says “spaghetti squash” and tells you how to cook it.

The crafty cook also knows that spaghetti is still spaghetti regardless if it is covered by a tomato-based veggie sauce, a meat sauce, a pesto sauce, a creamy Alfredo sauce, or even just butter seasoned with salt, basil and garlic. All variations qualify.

Armed with this breadth of possibilities, Super Chef whips up the winning spaghetti dinner in what could have been a half hour, but because of interference from the sidelines, takes 45 minutes. Click on “continue reading…: for the play-by-play recipe.

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