Cooking Art History: Sugar Baby
July 9, 2014
This blog was featured in The Huffington Post on June 17, 2014.
Sugar. Talk of it is everywhere. It’s one of the leading causes of obesity and diabetes in our country. It is an ingredient so common to us that it is difficult to imagine a world without it.
The first reference to sugar in classical literature is attributed to Nearchos of Crete, one of Alexander the Great’s commanders, who in 327 BC reported “a reed in India brings forth honey without the help of bees” while sailing from the mouth of the Indus River to the Euphrates in modern Punjab. The 1st century Greek naturalist Dioscorides accurately described it as “a kind of solidified honey of a similar consistency to salt”. The idea that sugar was a kind of salt persisted well into the Middle Ages when it was occasionally referred to as “Indian salt.” READ MORE
Cooking Art History: Dining With Matisse
May 16, 2014
This blog was featured in The Huffington Post on May 16, 2014.
I’m beyond thrilled to head to my home state of Texas in July to teach a series of classes, Dining with Matisse, inspired by the special exhibition, Matisse: Life in Color, at the San Antonio Museum of Art. French food, art and culture are on my mind.
Matisse lived during France’s Belle Époque. Café culture was at its height, and cafés were where artists came together to exchange stories, discuss ground breaking artistic styles, and eat good food. This good food has a history.
It is said that table manners in Europe changed during the Renaissance when Catherine de Medici married Henry II and moved to France with her cooks. Her chefs de cuisine brought with them innovative recipes, fine tablecloths and introduced silverware, most notably, the fork. Until well into the 16th century, French cooking still had the strong flavors of Medieval Europe but by the 17th century, the French palate had grown more sophisticated and food a more integral part of court festivities. READ MORE
Cooking Art History: Savoring Silence
April 29, 2014
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
April 1, 2014
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