Have you ever looked at a still nature so vivid and mouthwatering you could almost feel the scent of the painted food? Or looked at a dish so beautiful it could have been placed in a museum? Carme, a Spanish food curator and creator of Eating Arts, knows these feelings very well. She found a way to, pardon the violent idiom, kill two birds with one stone, creating a space where she can fulfill her two passions simultaneously: art history and food.
Eating Arts is a sort of culinary blog, where the provided recipes are inspired by particular paintings, artists, art-styles, but also specific colours and textures, like Anish Kapoor’s red sculptures, that Carme turned into a beetroot soup.
Anish Kapoor, Red void, 1993
The connections Carme makes are surprisingly accurate, even if not obvious. While sharing recipes, Carme also brings in short lessons on art history.
‘I studied art history at the University of the Balearic Islands. My father and my aunt have also studied art history, and we’d always reunite on Sundays, at home, for a family lunch, where we would talk about art and my classes, while eating my mum’s delicious recipes. This is how the idea of food and art was born.’ – Carme describes.
Joining the culinary arts with the visual is not an unheard-of concept. As a matter of fact, food itself can be considered visual art as well as a tasty, cultural experience. Its synesthetic qualities makes it that much more of a stimulating event for the viewer, or, in this case, eater.
‘I have a little bit of synesthesia, so sometimes I can imagine flavours and aromas when I see some artworks. For instance, I can imagine how Clara Peeters’ art pieces smell: roses, fresh flowers, and almonds. This combination reminds me of mahalabia, a lebanese pudding, garnished with pistachios, roses and nuts.’
Clara Peeters, Still Life with Flowers, Goblet, Dried Fruit, and Pretzels, 1611
Each plate is an original piece of art and the fact that there’s a transience written into it gives the eater a sense of specialness — a dish is like an art piece created just for them and once eaten, it will be gone forever, remaining only in the transformed form of energy, which keeps one’s body going. Sort of beautiful, don’t you think?
Like art, food is tradition and also innovation. It has something magical.
‘Ferran Adrià was the first cook invited to participate in Documenta 12, and I think it was an important moment, where the walls between art and food fell down.’
Carme mentions also a Thai artist named Rirkrit Tiravanjia, who works a lot with food in his conceptual artworks. Tiravanija in 1992 converted a gallery into a kitchen where he served rice and Thai curry for free, inviting the visitor to interact with contemporary art in a more sociable way, blurring the distance between artist and viewer.
An idea so simple, yet so inspiring!