Eating is a necessity for animals and humans alike. Food fuels the body with energy and provides it with all necessary vitamins and minerals for a proper functioning. Animals do not make too much of a fuss when it comes to daily meals. Food is collected from anywhere, including ground, dirty bowls or even trash containers. The food is eaten as such, with no preparation whatsoever. Unlike animals, humans have long surpassed the period when food was just a matter of survival. In modern days, food designates a way of living, shows an emotional status (see emotional eaters) and more often is transformed in a work of art. Whether it is the unique combination of tastes or the original plating, artistic innovation is part of cooking.
Refined food for evolved people
Human’s connection with cooking started when fire was discovered. Roasted meat in open fire is the first dish people created in order to improve the taste of meat. Then tools were manufactured and the meals were diversified. Along with food diversification, humans started to evolve. Their lifestyle gradually changed to the point that the ancient cave men were transformed into modern people with sedentary lives. The hunting was replaced by shopping at the market and eating was no longer a way of satisfying a need, but a social act. Today eating connects people (family dinners, holiday meals, romantic dinner, business lunch, etc.). Food has become an experience and food providers turned more and more towards the artistic field for inspiration.
Creativity is now obligatory in all kitchens around the globe. Traditional recipes are modified and improved, cross-cultural cuisine brings interesting mixes of spices and main ingredients, while food design enchants the eye with stunning creations. The way in which food is placed on the table is a mixture of painting and sculpture, the choice of textures brings food closer to contemporary art, while the intense flavors compete with the most intriguing playwrights or most delighting ballet dances. And all that are only artifices which make modern people enjoy their meals.
Food plating – a feast for the eyes
Probably the most obvious way in which food is turned into art is the way they are arranged for serving</a>. From intricate sculptures made in fruits and veggies to modernist display of traditional food, dish design is exploited to the maximum in these days. From the banal breakfast sandwich to the dramatic cakes, no detail is spared when it comes to finding that perfect look. Just imagine your favorite fast-food sandwich: melting cheese, sizzling bacon, brightly colored veggies and grilled beef with grill marks on the surface, all in a brown bun. You would not imagine food design in a sandwich, but detail is left aside when assembling one of these goodies: the colors and the textures are combined to offer not just the taste, but also the looks.
While “diner” restaurants make use of food plating moderately, the high end restaurants spare no effort in creating masterpieces when serving their dishes. The plate is the canvas onto which the chef displays his work of art. Each ingredient is cut to the millimeter and each basil or parsley leave is placed in a previously designated position to create a unique aspect. Sea food served on base of tapioca sand, octopus served with perfectly round dots of sauce and impressive sugar sculptures on cakes are great examples of a chef’s imagination and skilled hands can do. This is the type of food which is eaten more with the eyes and soul and less with your mouth.
Fine-tuned cooking skills for the pleasure of the soul
In old times cooking meant preparing the food in order to be edible. Then recipes started to appear and the definition of cooking was upgraded to mixing ingredients according to specific recipes in order to obtain edible dishes. Nowadays cooking is more about inspiration and less about strict rules and old recipes. In order to be fabulous, a dish must surprise the senses with a boost of different flavors, must shock the individual tasting the food, similarly to the way in modern art shocks and enchants the person experiencing it.
Molecular cuisine is probably the most extreme culinary adventure. Unique ways of cooking, strange mixes of ingredients and abstract displays seem to form the structure of molecular gastronomy. This new form of cooking makes use of chemistry and physics to change the texture, form and taste of different ingredients. The result is a stunning plate which changes everything we know about food. Transparent ravioli, crab ice cream and faux caviar are only some of the dishes created by the molecular chefs.
Cooking is a form of art! It is the art of transforming banal ingredients into delicious and extremely good looking dishes. Modern cuisine shocks the individual by breaking the rules and mixing spicy with sweet and salty with bitter, by bringing together ingredients which traditionally would never meet and by inventing alternative ways of cooking which make meals a new experience each day.
Picture credit to Flickr.