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In Defense of Food Art

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Oct 08, 2014

People love to write blog posts mocking art made out of food. Here's one. Here's another. I sometimes fear we've become a culture of nay-sayers, bullying the out-of-the-box artists of our world into submission. Are we trying to force everyone into making regular old art, with non-edible objects?

Frankly, that's not a world I want to be a part of. I am here to stand in firm defense of food artists everywhere. Why?

1. Food is colorful, pliable, and textured: the perfect catch-all art material.

Why limit yourself to oil paint (messy, expensive), marble (heavy, expensive), or pastels (messy, messy) when you can use the gorgeous rainbow of the farmer's market? The affordable, perfectly sweet blank canvas of frosting? The raw visual power of layered junk food? The sticky and, frankly, adorable building block that is sushi rice? These people are just as skilled as a paint-yielding artist, if not more so, because their materials are PERISHABLE.

Check out this amazing piece from Culinary Canvas:

One of CulinaryCanvas' breathtaking food creations. Photo from http://culinarycanvas.tumblr.com.

And this re-creation of Van Gogh's "Starry Night" ...on cupcakes...by Freed's Bakery:

Van Gogh Cupcakes

2. Food can get way too serious. (See the rise of the $600 tasting menu.)

Food is about pleasure. We have to be able to enjoy it. Otherwise, what is there left to enjoy? (Nothing. Nothing.)

3. Food art is educational and kid-friendly.

Kids are born to hate things that are healthy for them. But look how much cooler these apples are when they look like frogs! Kids would never eat all this fruit if it was in a bowl, but look how amazing this underwater scene is! Tell me a five-year-old is not going to eat that. You can't, because they will.

Take these fruit Bento boxes photographed by Amanda Quintana-Bowles, which are suitable for children ages 2-100:

Fruit Bento Box

And have you ever seen apples look like this much fun? No, you haven't (thanks Coqui the Chef!):

Apples have never been this much fun

What do you think, eaters? Do you agree with me? Have arguments to contribute? Or are you too busy puking over this ground beef spider?

Ground meat black widow

Either way, let us know in the comments. Bonus points for those of you who leave pics of your own food art.

Talia Ralph is a freelance writer pursuing her Master's in Food Systems at NYU. She also hosts a radio show about pizza. Follow her on Twitter @TaliaBethRalph.

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