playing with food

You Are What You Eat

The final weeks of 2008 loom before us, with their annual promise of copius consumption shadowed by the thin specter of our economic downturn. This Thanksgiving holiday, I turn to art for answers, and am not left empty handed.

Sink your teeth into some tasty nuggets of photography from Matthew Carden. Married to a chef and working as a commercial photographer, Carden hones in on our culture's afterthought of abundance in his Small World series by juxtaposing playful, tiny human figures in collosal landscapes of food.

Matthew Carden, "Sweet Potatoes" - limited edition print

Above: Matthew Carden, "Sweet Potatoes", limited edition print

With their tiny plastic hardhats, uniforms and scuba gear implying industry, Carden's figures call to attention the often invisible energy and process underlying our food chain. Feast your eyes on the playful and portent on Carden's website, 350 Degrees.

If You Can't Beat 'Em...

Since I'm currently in the wretched state of not being able to process food, I thought I'd torture myself by sharing a few new snapshots from my playing with food photo-documentary "roll" (no pun intended, I really would prefer the ability to consume something other than ginger ale and Saltines!)

Concerned cutting board - Okra masala

Miraculous oatmeal heart

Above (Top): "Concerned cutting board - Okra Masala"
Above (Bottom): "Miraculous steel-cut oatmeal heart"

Prioritize, edit, and live well (in spite of yourself)

Anyone with eyes, ears and a wallet knows that these days are lean days here in the good ol' U.S.A. As a veteran of art school, student loans, freelancing, layoffs and studio life, I have seen my share of these times through (with nary a scar on my credit rating, I might add). Although our current economic climate can be a bit anxiety provoking, in a way I welcome the familiar challenge of tightening the belt. It reminds me how to prioritize, how to edit and how to live as well as I can at all times. The secret? The above three points are key ingredients to a successful life.

As a blushing newlywed, I find myself in charge of our household finances, as well as much (though not all!) of the meal planning. Good thing, too: I have plenty of experience in budgeting, from my nitty-gritty basement arts collaborative days to a 500K corporate trade show budget…you could say I know my way around a spreadsheet (just adjust the zeroes to get where we are right about now :).

My lovely mother recently sent an insightful email on Peter Menzel's photo documentary Hungry Planet, which highlights families around the world, depicting all household members alongside their weekly grocery purchases, and noting the amount spent (both in local currency and U.S. dollars). I found this book simply fascinating, and given the far reaching economic, ecological and health implications of our “weekly bread”, felt inspired to add to the project.

Groceries, week of 3/3/08

Unfortunately, my better half has been burning the night oil as of late, and I assumed the role of photographer, so we are not depicted alongside our haul.  Needless to say, we are a household of two (alas, no children or pets!)

Groceries, week of 3/3/08

As you can see, we keep a vegetarian house, and it is my goal to keep our menu full of as many whole foods as possible. And folks...if you have to buy pasta (which you do if your husband is from Italy), buy DeCecco.

Total amount spent: $110.73*
*Includes $0.15 credit for bringing our own, reusable grocery bags!


Playing with food, part 2

I admit it, I have never been much of a morning person; but I have developed quite a taste for breakfast as one palliative strategy for the inevitability of the alarm clock and the crankiness it bestows upon me.

Breakfast, January 17, 2008

The love of my life realizes the risk and power this time of day holds in its glowing palm, and luckily for both of us, he is a fabulous and inventive cook. Believe it or not, he fixes me breakfast each and every morning (which is one of the many reasons why I will be marrying him in less than two weeks!)

Breakfast, January 19, 2008 

His latest breakfast offering: a crispy variation of my own corn grits with sage combined with the crowd-pleasing "egg in the hole", looked so tasty that I was inspired to shape it into a familiar character from my own artwork archive. This was also a convenient reminder for me to update my online portfolio with my Sequence Block series (from way back when Bush first took office). Tasty!

Breakfast, January 19, 2008


Playing with food, part 1

Since it's Christmastime, my daily task list has centered around creating (vegetarian, Jewish and Italian in-law-friendly) menus, shopping at various locations to support said menus, returning to said various locations to purchase the things forgotten on the first pass, consulting cookbooks in several languages, consolidating recipes into plain English,

Torta di zucca (dal Cucchiaio Argento)The Swan - perla baptisma in Umbria

slicing, peeling, dicing, pre-heating, mixing, seasoning, greasing, venting, rolling, baking, stirring, re-heating and refrigerating. Not to mention cleaning.

But I'd like to focus on the first part, as the theme leans graciously towards my ongoing (cellular phone camera) mini photographic series documenting the symbology of served food (i.e. playing with food).

Girl with Fake BaconMy Bread &hearts You

There are a host of artists out there exploring food culture in other ways; ranging from amigurumi, like these crocheted clementines from Eternal Sunshine:

Eternal Sunshine's amigurumi Clementines

to tasty felt, such as this winsome irked tofu from Button Arcade:

Irked Tofu Felt Pincushion by buttonarcade

to just plain fakin' it, like Jenni B Original's faux sweets:

Faux Chocolate Dipped Strawberries by Jenni B Originals

...Excuse me, I must go floss now.

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