Category Archives: Uncategorized

Food landscapes, food portraits, food fight!

A few weeks ago, I found out about British Photographer Carl Warner and his foodscapes. Those aren’t clouds, they’re cauliflower. Broccoli trees, mountains of bread, and is that polenta paving? Nope, it’s cumin. Warner has fifteen foodscapes on his site,
These vivid and fantastic images really struck a chord online, and not just among food bloggers.
Check out the Google Trends Graph Below.
Prior to 2008, he’s nowhere, then in January, the BBC online does a piece on him, digg and technorati pick it up. Cool. I would like to thank my girlfriend’s mother, who goes by the name of RadBarb, for bringing Warner’s culinary craziness to my attention.
google trends carl warner

So, these images got me thinking about other food imagery that is not primarily commercial, documentary or incidental. I’ll do a whole post on still life images with food at some point, but Carl Warner’s images made me think specifically of 16th century painter Arcimboldo.
Arcimboldo Vegetable Gardner
Yeah, that guy. I didn’t remember his name either, so I took a trip to the University of Michigan Fine Arts Library and in short order walked away with a couple books on him. Here are the catalog entries for the books; there are several others.

Arcimboldo created paintings that are called symbolist, and sometimes pre-surrealist; knockoffs are known as Arcimboldesques. Of about 17 -30 known works, many are composed largely of food. There’s a whole essay…holy crappie. I just found UCSD Professor Peter Moyle’s page of citations of all his publications on fish imagery in art. Naturally this includes an essay on Arcimboldo’s piece, Water, which is part of The Elements series.
Arcimboldo Water 1566
Looking at this series, and at The Four Seasons series, it’s interesting how different they are from food porn, which is all about the delicious aesthetic of food. With Arcimboldo, the food isn’t food. I mean, that guy’s symbolism has symbolism. More about that another time.

Film maker Stefan Nadelman used slightly less profound symbolism in what he calls the “viral mini-epic short film about war called Food Fight”. Over 1.75 Million views on YouTube. Some might say Food Fight is in poor taste, given the details he manages to convey through sound effects and the fast foods of the world. But Nadelman’s striking use of food to represent war between nations is not only more graphic than I would have thought possible, but also a more successful representation than I would have thought possible.

The Kentucky Library celebrates Duncan Hines

Western Kentucky mixes it up with a…with a…ok, did everyone catch that? Mixes it up…Mixes! cake mixYou see, I said mixes, like cake mix, for which Duncan Hines is famous! Whew. Anyway, the library’s exhibit, Recommended by Duncan Hines, tells the story of Hines’ life and career. It’s too bad they didn’t put more exhibit content online, because folks who live far from Bowling Green are less likely to know about Hines’ fascinating career as a salesman, restaurant reviewer and author. But they did put an ad on YouTube.

UPDATE : There is a site to go with this exhibit! Thank you to Marissa from letting me know!

Gonzaga food exhibit

Food for thought is the name of the exhibition at Jundt Museum’s Arcade Gallery
at Gonzaga University. (There’s gotta be a less clumsy way to say that.) The exhibit complements the school’s discussion theme of food, eating and agriculture. You’ve got another month to see it; it’s up November 30 2007 – March 8 2008.

They organized a pretty cool lecture series around the topic, including…

Brother David Andrews (whose bio reads like Cesar Chavez with a JD and a clerical collar) delivered the lecture Eating as a Moral Act. He also gave that talk to the 2004 Food and Society Conference, which is a Kellogg Foundation program. (I look forward to devoting a post to the Kellogg foundation, about which I know very little, except that they’ve given huge money to the School of Information at Michigan), which runs the programs in library and archives, HCI and policy. Thanks Kellogg Foundation! OK, back on track…Here’s Brother Andrews’ comments on the conference Feeding a Hungry World: The Moral Imperative of Biotechnology.

Professor Maccarone gave a talk called The Post-Industrial Eater: Aligning Ethical Values and Food Choices. I know what you’re thinking, Professor Emanuele Maccarone? The eminent Italian food chemist from the University of Catania? Author of From China to Brussels; the long path of the red oranges and Distribution of fatty acids and phytosterols as a criterion to discriminate geographic origin of pistachio seeds?! No no no, Ellen Maccarone, Professor of Philosophy at Gonzaga and author of Impartiality in moral and political philosophy. (Thanks to ISI Web of Science for making this paragraph possible.)

Zaga also screened Broken Limbs: Apples, Agriculture, and the New American Farmer Link goes to an incredible website connected with the film, with information for educators, farmers and anyone else interested. How cool!(Hey Mom, look! It’s distributed through Bullfrog Films!)

Patty Martin, Director of Washington based NGO Safe Food and Fertilizer lectured on…well, you can probably guess, and Mark Graham, author of Sustainable Agriculture: A Christian Ethic of Gratitude spoke on theology, ethics and agriculture.

The University of Pennsylvania also chose food as the subject of university-wide discussion. They picked Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma for the Penn Reading Project.
Here’s a Cool UPenn Library page with scholarly and popular resources on The Omnivore’s Dilemma and its subject matter.

I’d like to know what other schools are talking about food…

Michigan Map Library: A Cartographic Feast

So Karl Longstreth and the crew at the University of Michigan’s Map Library take the third Thursday of the month to show off their collection, and December 2007’s exhibit was all food maps! There were dozens of maps, from local to international and from awesome to ridiculous.

University of Michigan Map Library Exhibit

I hesitate to say which I liked best; there was a stunning series of Italian regional maps. Have a look at the color in this map of Sicily! Also, check out the citrus inland and seafood around the coast. My favorite is what I’ll call trident toting cardinal mermaid (no, merman, merman!) off the southern coast. I feel like that fellow is probably some mythical symbol of whom I know nothing, but regardless, I like the cut of his jib.
culinary map of Sicily

Here, have a closer look at Cardinal Merman

merman cardinal

There were wine maps and cheese maps and agriculture maps and demersal maps (kinda like this crazy demersal fish map from NASA!?!) The maps of these sea floor-hugging fish caught my eye since I’ve been reading Mark Kurlansky’s Cod.

I even made the current header for this blog from an image from this exhibit, a map of Agricultural Regions of the United States.  And a real standout among all the maps from A Cartographic Feast was the Google Maps printout Karl made that shows a major drawback of living in this part of the country, the hundreds and hundreds of miles between us and the nearest In-N-Out Burger.

Maurice Sendak, and what happened to chicken soup, at the Rosenbach Library

The Rosenbach was awesome. I’ve been meaning to get there for a while now, because they have Joyce’s Ulysses manuscript. But I bailed on the Bloomsday shindig last time I was in Philadelphia on June 16. So before going to three of my favorite Center City Philadelphia bars, I hiked out to 20th & Delancey and took a tour. They’ve got a small Maurice Sendak exhibit up, with a much larger one going up in May. (They’re being loaned nearly 10,000 pieces of of Sendak stuff from the man himself, who has a strong relationship with the institution.)

The current exhibit is Really Rosie, and it’s great. It features the largest piece ever done by Sendak, (a wall sized drawing done for a 1980 New York Times Magazine cover), beautiful watercolor and ink pieces (rrrreally wish i had been allowed to photograph the cases), and an original score by Carole King. Really Rosie, the animated musical, is projected in the gallery. I had forgotten about Chicken Soup with Rice, but here in the Rosenbach was this amazing exhibit with paintings and songs and stories about soup!

Anyway, the Rosenbach has an incredible collection, and I love that they still function a library, and make their materials accessible to researchers. I wish I had images to show of Sir John Tenniel’s (he illustrated Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) sketch that features oysters…I also wish I had some oysters right now <sigh>.

Bought a book of recipes selected from the Rosenbach Museum and Library 1982 exhibit “Cook’s Choice: Rare and Important Cookbooks from the Ninth to the Nineteenth Century”. My favorite recipe? Pesca in Gelatina, from De Honesta Voluptate et Valetudine, printed in 1475. Don’t think I’ll be using the next striped bass I catch to try it. Mostly what I like about aspic is that it makes me think of that line from Psycho, the tough detective to Norman Bates… something like, “if it doesn’t gel, it isn’t aspic. and this ain’t gellin”

Rosenbach 1982
Left the Rosenbach, went to three center city bars I really like; Monk’s, the Nodding Head and Ludwigs. Here’s a map of the places I went that day.