In celebration of a unique art form that dazzles the senses: culinary art.
Food is an important aspect of life, and I’m not referring to mere survival. Yes, we must eat in order to survive, but delicious and well-presented culinary art makes life fuller.
Imagine eating just sandwiches for Christmas or not having turkey for Thanksgiving! Food is so important for humanity that we’ve made it the center of most of our celebrations.
Food is not only a necessity to human existence but a social activity and, thanks to passionate cooks, an art — the most delicious form of art.
Measurement is important. But so are instinct and taste.
Many people eat primarily to satiate their hunger, not caring if they’re having Argentinian beef or a fast-food burger. I can’t blame them, since I used to have a similar attitude. But then I heard about Jamie Oliver and became his number-one fan. That was my moment of awakening, of becoming curious about tasting different dishes from different countries.
Did my life change? Well, let me put it this way: I am a traveler, and I discovered that Italy is a beautiful country, but if you go to Rome and eat french fries, the experience is far from complete.
The place that most showed me the importance of food was Paris. I was completely aware of the irresistibility of classic French cuisine. I also knew how the country’s masters of culinary art tried to find hidden flavors in meat, just as sculptors search for shapes in blocks of marble. But my knowledge ended at the rumors I’d heard.
When I visited Paris’s museums and art galleries, I was impressed by the intensity of my feelings, but the city gained its place in my heart thanks to the elegance of their culinary art. French dining killed my barbaric attitude toward food and enhanced my experience so much that I decided to start cooking. My intent was not to become a well-known culinary artist but to offer a piece of happiness to my closest companions, instead of offering them cereal with milk when they came to my house.
The world would be a happier place if we could all make a plate our canvas.
I had my first date with a pot and a bunch of ingredients when I was a 21-year-old student who ate eggs for dinner on a daily basis. One day I decided to make soup, and I allowed myself to be mentored by the person who had fed me since childhood: my mother.
My regret came when my mom, who stayed on the phone through almost the whole first cooking journey, didn’t want to give me exact indications of…measurements. I demanded answers to “How much?” and “How long?” until she asked me if I usually used a specific number of adjectives or metaphors in all the articles I wrote. She had a good point.
“You see, my dear, cooking is a form of art,” she said. “If you think about it, you’ve eaten the same type of food in many places, and it’s never tasted exactly the same. Do you know why? Well, not all cooks have the same tastes and instincts. Of course, not all people who cook become culinary artists. Copying a recipe, just like copying a painting or a sculpture, doesn’t make people artists, though the world would be a happier place if we could all make a plate our canvas…”
The empty plate and the blank canvas.
Photo by Klaus Vedfelt. Courtesy of Getty Images.
Many people consider cooks to be craftsmen more than artists. Since cooking requires work and structure, I can agree with this assessment.
Also, unlike other types of art, cooking involves and needs replications of the same plate. But there is a good reason for that, isn’t there? We make it disappear! And shouldn’t others enjoy the same delicious dish?
So we can call cooks craftsmen, but we can all agree that some don’t allow their material to limit their expression. They use their vision, passion, instinct and talent to create art on a plate. And that makes them artists.
Art is capable of moving people on an emotional level. If you have the opportunity to visit The Dalí Theatre and Museum in Figueres, Spain, and look at the paintings, you will feel the emotion Dalí put into creating his art.
Culinary art is capable of moving people on an emotional level.
If you visit me and I make soup for you, you won’t feel much, unless it’s too hot. However, when tasting food created by culinary artists, you will be overwhelmed by all kinds of emotions. Masters of culinary art put passion into mixing the right ingredients and creating the perfect dishes. You might not close your eyes and imagine the chef creating the dish, but you will feel your senses tickled and the immense happiness that invades your whole body. Some have even shed a tear when they tasted an incredibly delicious meal.
This doesn’t typically happen with everyday food, but not all paintings make us gaze at them forever either, do they?
Is it difficult to be a culinarian? Like all artists, they need to study and work hard. Besides having the instinct and taste to combine diverse ingredients in order to delight people’s senses, masters of culinary art must also have deep knowledge of food science, nutrition and diet. Those who have these abilities — who can bring together the vast flavors, textures, colors and aromas, creating a Mona Lisa on a dish — deserve our applause. They make our lives more beautiful with every bite we take.
Paintings amaze our eyes and music dazzles our ears, but food can appeal to all our senses at the same time. It is truly a unique form of art.
Imagine life without culinary art.
Photo by Iain Bagwell. Courtesy of Getty Images.
Some say cooking is so easy that all you need to know is how to read and follow a recipe. Yes, being able to fry an egg will satisfy your hunger, and reading a recipe will help you create something a bit more complicated. Similarly, knowing how to hold a pencil will let you draw a cat. But will your cat end up being admired in a gallery? Will your fried egg cause expressions of pleasure to come from your friends’ mouths?
Visionary cooks show us their power over ingredients and inspire us to enjoy small artistic moments in our own houses, making our lives and our beloved ones’ days happier.
I don’t dream of ever becoming a master of culinary art, but I love to use my creativity in everything I do, so I now try to be as artistic as possible when I cook. How? Well, my idea of breakfast no longer involves throwing an egg on my plate. I like playing with ingredients, and I enjoy arranging plates in a beautiful manner.
Why is this important for me, when I have no desire to become a professional chef? Well, when I asked my partner how his days would be without my inventive breakfast, for example, he just answered, “Sad!”