Turnip flowers. Chocolate handbags. Frozen butter figurines.
Food as art. Avant-garde dining. Exciting culinary escapades. Food can be treated as a material to be combined with visuals and music. It’s a trend that breaks away from traditional notions surrounding cuisine and dining. According to critic Glenn Kuehn, food blurs the distinction between high and low art, creating “an aesthetic interaction with the environment that becomes a part of a communal experience” (209).
Artistic innovations in dining, as I have mentioned, vary considerably from tradition. In the past, the dining area was the location in which good etiquette was tested and refined (Greenberg para 1). Manners, proper use of tableware, and appropriate menus and recipes distinguished high classes from the low, and were indicative of shifting social and economic values (Greenberg para 1). In short, good etiquette has historically been about class distinctions- not so much about cuisine. However, good etiquette does not always need to be the primary focus of dining. Modern restaurants may employ visuals and music in a movement away from apprehensions toward food and dining experimentation, creating unusual (yet wonderful) dining experiences.
Food as art is, in my mind, a completely natural union. Cuisine evokes aesthetic responses. A braided loaf of brioche or the syrupy thickness of balsamic vinegar can be appreciated in the same way that one admires a Van Gogh or a Matisse.
Credit: Geekosystem via Inscrutables
Furthermore, the aesthetics of food are incorporated within a larger human experience in which cultural values are embedded. Artistic culinary innovations allow for food to transform our experience of living, offering a “unified aesthetic experience” (Kuehn 209).
Bom-Bane’s in Brighton, England is an excellent example of a restaurant that combines food with art to create a truly innovative dining experience. While feasting on lovely Belgian and European dishes, patrons have the opportunity to be entertained by musician Jane Bom-Bane, the owner of the restaurant, who is well known for her unique songs and moving, mechanical hats.
Jane Bom-Bane performs her own songs on a piano in the dining room of her restaurant; some of the songs include, “I’ve Got a Goldfish Bowl on My Head” and, “The Edinburgh Mermaid” (all songs copyright Jane Bom-Bane). In terms of incorporating food and art, diners at Bom-Bane’s have the chance to have their dinner literally sung to them so that they may become knowledgeable of the delicious intricacies of the dish. Sample dishes include Oxford Pork with Belgian Beer Gravy, Grilled Goat Cheese Salad, and Chocowafflettes– chocolate-coated dessert waffles (all dishes copyright Bom-Bane’s). Please take time to visit the website at www.bom-banes.co.uk.
I hope this brief introduction to innovations with food and art has been interesting. Subsequent posts will be more specific (think chocolate and sugar art, food artists, etc.). In the meantime, try to experiment with food. Enjoy the art and beauty of it. Always explore. Happy dining!
Greenberg, Carol A. “Etiquette Books.” The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. Ed. Gordon Campbell. Oxford University Press, 2003. University of Windsor. 20 May 2012 <http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t170.e0289>
Kuehn, Glenn. “Chapter 11: How Can Food Be Art?” The Aesthetics of Everyday Life. Oxford University Press, USA. 2007.