Cooking Art History: Savoring Silence

Cooking Art History: Savoring Silence

This blog was featured in The Huffington Post on April 29, 2014.

This past weekend I taught a class at ESMoA inspired by its latest Experience, SILENCE. The exhibit explores the path of abstraction in art, a path that goes hand in hand with our ways of perceiving and understanding the world. Though abstract art can be rooted in realism, it uses a visual language of color, shape, line, texture and space (the elements of art) to create a composition that is independent from the recognizable visual references of the world.

Food can be as expressive as art and uses the same elements of art, but with the added dimensions of taste and smell. The way we taste food is far more complex than flavor alone. The shape, smell and color of a food, its packaging, and even the setting in which it is eaten, affects the way it tastes. Similarly, how one experiences art — the setting, one’s state of mind when doing so — can tap into our psyches and emotions in different ways. READ MORE »

Cooking Art History: Sicilian Gourmet

Cooking Art History: Sicilian Gourmet

This blog was featured in The Huffington Post on April 1, 2014.

Thanks to a recent exhibit at The Getty (Sicily: Art and Invention between Greece and Rome) and a current one at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens (Lost & Found: The Secrets of Archimedes), I find myself fascinated by Sicilian culture.

The Huntington’s exhibit focuses on mathematician, inventor and astronomer Archimedes (also highlighted at The Getty), who I imagine enjoying the bread and cheese written about by another Sicilian, Archestratus, while developing his heady theories. Archestratus lived about a century before Archimedes and wrote one of the most significant works on food of the ancient world. The Life of Luxury is a poem written between 360 and 348 BCE. READ MORE »

Cooking Art History: Cooking Canterbury

Cooking Art History: Cooking Canterbury

This blog was featured in The Huffington Post on March 5, 2014.

A few months ago I was asked to develop a class around a group of stained glass windows at the J. Paul Getty Museum from the Canterbury Cathedral. (They’re now at The Cloisters in NYC and totally worth seeing before they head home). I was stumped. The windows were stunning, but fine dining doesn’t exactly come to mind when thinking of medieval England.

With the end of the Roman Empire, the culture responsible for the first western cookbook with the 5th century’s De re coquinaria (On the Art of Cooking) attributed to Apicius, the widespread understanding of high cuisine and fine dining was destroyed. READ MORE »

Cooking Art History: The Victorian Appetite

Cooking Art History: The Victorian Appetite

This blog was featured in The Huffington Post on February 26, 2014.

As I get ready to teach a series of English-themed classes inspired by the Queen Victoria and Photography exhibit at the J. Paul Getty Museum and Princely Traditions and Colonial Pursuits at LACMA, tea, scones and spices are on my mind.

Tea, the most quintessential of English drinks, is a relative latecomer to British shores. Although the custom of drinking tea dates back to the third millennium BC in China, it was not until the mid-17th century that the beverage first appeared in England. The use of tea spread slowly from its Asian homeland, reaching Europe by way of Venice around 1560, although Portuguese trading ships may have made contact with the Chinese as early as 1515. READ MORE »