I’ve seen a cow made of bread, a soccer ball in proceessed meat and a persian rug made of rice and legumes. But I haven’t seen a jelly bean George Washington or a sheep made of butter before. Check out this edible art.
Interested in taking photos of food? Then here are a few tips from the best:
1. Pay close attention to the lighting conditions: Understand the light available to you and the capabilities of the camera and lens you are using.
2. Stablise your camera: If you can’t use a tripod, brace it against a chair, wall, or sleeping giraffe.
3. Learn the settings on your camera: so that you can adjust to a wider aperture, which gives you shallow depth of field. Most food looks attractive when only a portion is in focus.
4. Learn to white-balance your shots: either while shooting or on the computer (not bad if you shoot RAW).
5. Never use a built-in pop-up flash: it creates harsh highlights and shadows.
6. Shoot RAW if at all possible: it gives you way more ability to adjust the shot on your computer later.
7. Get some safe shots first, covering the whole plate from above, 45 degrees and horizontal. Then get in close and take some more daring shots of details, and play with lighting to create more dramatic highlights and shadows.
Marije Vogelzang is inspired by the origin of food and the preparation, etiquette, history and culture around it. She is a designer but not a food designer. She is an “eating designer”.
“It is often thought that designers who work with food only design the shape of it. Vogelzang’s aim is to look at the content and background of the food as well; the shape is just a tool to tell a story.
After 10 years of experience with food projects, Vogelzang has developed a philosophy consisting of eight inspirational points. They can be used as a tool to inspire designers and creatives about food.
The eight point philosophy gives insight into where the possibilities of working with food can lead.
The eight points are: the senses, nature, culture, society, technique, psychology, science and action”
Spring is here (at least in the Southern Hemisphere) and it’s time to shake out the picnic rug and get outdoors. Here’s some recipe ideas for your next picnic:
1. Salads in a Jar - Colourful layers of fresh food and easily transportable, salads in a jar make a great addition to your picnic. These salads can be shared or eaten straight from the jar. Try this Greek Salad with Orzo and Black-Eyed Peas salad.
2. Ploughman’s Lunch - A Ploughman’s lunch is a really fun picnic food. It’s very easy to pack into a single container and is perfect for sharing. A Ploughman’s lunch traditionally consists of cold meats, hunks of cheddar cheese, chutney and bread and pickled onions but there are plenty of variations to the dish which you find at The Kitchn.
Melbourne Fringe Festival Blind Tasting: “She talks wine. She sells wine. Now, Sophie has every reason to drink it!“ Described by Australian Stage as “part performance, part wine tasting”, crack up open the bottle and join Sophie in a glass, as she tastes life and discovers the unexpected truth hidden in each glass.
More Intimate Than: Your invited to a dinner party to chew on the fat of our complicated relationship with food which will be served with a contemplation of life without flavours or gastronomic pleasures.
Sydney Crave International Festival A Moveable Feast:Moveable Feast gives you the chance to sample the wares of Sydney’s food trucks in one go as George Street shakes off its daytime hustle and bustle and is given over to you, free of cars and buses for one night only. Moveable Feast also features films on a giant outdoor screen - shorts, documentaries and feature films that focus on two of Sydney’s great loves – art and food.
Art and Food: Beyond the Still Life: Curated by Megan Fizell, this exhibition considers the representation of food within the visual arts and beyond the standard still life tableaux.
Image: James Guppy - The Tablecloth’s Revenge
Street Food and Street Art at The Sugarmill: A Friday night party where you can watch some of Australia’s hottest street artists come together to create a live work of art while you enjoy some seriously tasty street food.
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but what about a cherimoya? Never heard of it? Cherimoya is a fruit native to the highlands of South America that Mark Twain once called “deliciousness itself.” While you may be a pro when it comes to pears, avocados and mangos, there are plenty of fruits considered delicacies in other countries. From durian to salak, discover 10 exotic fruits that are cherished around the world.
This Ping-Pong-ball-size red fruit is indigenous to Malaysia, and has also been cultivated throughout Thailand, South Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, India and Sri Lanka. It features a thin, leathery skin covered in tiny pinkish hairs for which it is named (in Malay, rambut means hair). A relative of the lychee, it has a white or pinkish flesh on the inside that is described as juicy and sweet. It’s often eaten fresh or canned, in salads and, more recently, in high-end cocktails. Photo: Shutterstock
This Southeast Asian delicacy is known first and foremost for its potent odor, which is said to be similar to rotting food or garbage. It’s so pungent, in fact, that it’s banned from certain restaurants and hotels, as the smell can linger for days. The durian tree does not bear fruit until it is 15 years old, making its prized crop very expensive—up to $50 per fruit, according to National Geographic. About the size of a volleyball, the fruit’s shell is covered in short spikes, and needs to be broken open like a coconut to reach the fleshy middle, which can be eaten raw, but is also used in anything from Malaysian candy and ice cream
Also known as the horned melon, jelly melon, kiwano or hedged gourd, the African cucumber is a vibrant fruit, featuring a mosaic of green and yellow colors on the inside and bright orange on the outside. It originates in the Kalahari Desert—which spans from central Botswana to west central South Africa and eastern Namibia—but can now be found in California and New Zealand
. The taste has been compared to cucumber and zucchini, or a mix of banana, cucumber and lemon, and it is often used for decorating platters or as an ingredient in smoothies and sundaes. Photo: Shutterstock
Native to West Africa, the ackee is now mostly produced and consumed in the Caribbean, particularly in Haiti and Jamaica, where it is the national fruit. Measuring up to 4 inches in diameter, this bulbous fruit grows on the evergreen ackee tree. It has a yellow and red leathery skin and must open naturally, at least partially, revealing thick, cream-colored sections attached to three shiny black seeds, before it is removed from the tree. (An unripe ackee can be poisonous when eaten.) The nutty-flavored flesh is often parboiled in salted water or milk and then lightly fried in butter. It’s also served with codfish, added to stews, or curried and eaten with rice. Photo: iStockphoto
Also known as bushukan or fingered citron, this citrus fruit—whose skin somewhat resembles that of a lemon—is native to southwestern China and northeastern India, and looks like a giant-fingered hand or yellow squid. The fruit is in season in winter, and can grow up to 12 inches. When split vertically, it reveals a white, juiceless and often seedless flesh. Prized for its fragrant scent (like that of violets), its thick yellow rind is often used to make jam and marinades, to flavor liquors and perfume clothing. In Japan, it is also considered to be a good luck totem for New Year’s, and is displayed as a decoration in homes. Photo: David Fischer / Getty Images
Native to Mexico and Central America, this shiny plant is largely grown for ornamental purposes, but its fruit, which is shaped like an ear of corn and is the only nonpoisonous part of the plant, is popular in the tropics. It takes just over a year for the fruit to ripen; when it does, the scales begin to separate, allowing the white flesh inside to peek through. Said to taste like a blend of pineapple and banana, it’s often eaten fresh, served with a bit of cream, added to fruit cups and ice cream, or used to flavor beverages. Photo: Renee Comet / Getty Images
Native to Mexico, this fleshy, pear-shaped plant is also known as vegetable pear, chocho, mirliton and christophene, and belongs to the same family as melons, cucumber and squash. Originally from Central America (it’s believed to be native to Guatemala specifically), the light green fruit is now cultivated throughout Mexico and in certain parts of America. Each fruit can weigh anywhere from 6 ounces to 3 pounds, with flesh that’s similar to that of a water chestnut. It can be prepared in a number of ways, including boiled, mashed, pickled and fried, and is used in everything from juice to jams. Photo: Shutterstock
Native to the valleys of Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador—and subsequently grown in Chile and Peru—this oval fruit can weigh up to 5 pounds and consists of a smooth, green skin and plump white inside that’s pitted with dark brown seeds (which are not edible). Its flesh is juicy and fragrant, with a custard-like consistency that is said to taste like a mix of banana, passion fruit, papaya and pineapple. It can be cut in half, scooped out and eaten raw, used in salads, puréed and made into mousse, folded into a pie or tart filling, or frozen and eaten like ice cream. Photo: Shutterstock
Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, salak—also known as snake fruit or snakeskin fruit—is the shape and size of a ripe fig but with a pointed tip and brown scaly skin. It’s prepared by breaking off the tip and peeling back the skin to reveal three yellowish-white lobes and a dark brown seed. It has a crisp texture and sweet flavor, making it a popular choice for fruit salad. It’s also used in soups and custards, and can also be found canned in syrup, candied, pickled or dried. Photo: Shutterstock
Most popular in Southeast Asia, dragon fruit is eaten around the world, including in Mexico and Central and South America. This pomegranate-size fruit is quite vibrant, with bright pink skin and large, green-tipped scales; inside, it contains a white or fuchsia-colored flesh that’s dotted with tiny black seeds. Slightly sweet and crunchy, the fruit is said to taste faintly like a mix of kiwi and pear or melon. To be eaten, it is cut down the middle and the soft inside is scooped out. Though often eaten fresh, it’s also used in juices or frozen drinks, or tossed into fruit salad. Photo: Shutterstock
All in the Presentation: 13 Ways to Make Your Food Like Art
Here’s something to keep in mind the next time you have people over for dinner: the way food is presented affects the degree to which the eater likes it. A study at Montclair State University found that well-presented food signifies greater care on the part of the preparer. Subjects expected to like it more, and, not surprisingly, they did.
“We eat with our eyes before we eat with our mouth,” says Omid Jaffari, chef, food stylist and photographer, and creative director for Botanical Cuisine.
Omid got his start in the food world through food presentation: He was a dishwasher at a restaurant, and one day the chef assigned him to plating food.
“I was freaked out. I f*#%ked it up,” he says. “But then the next time it happened I just gave myself over to it. I realized that I really liked plating food. It was like this beautiful white canvas.”
If you want the food you serve to look like art, there are a few basic guidelines to follow:
Try to feature at least 3 colours on the plate. Garnish is a great way to add colour, and is, according to Omid, the “essential finishing touch to any dish.” Think beyond parsley and make it something edible that complements the dish, like salad ingredients or edible flowers.
Plan for a variety of shapes and forms. Serve round(ish) things with prong-like things like asparagus. Keep this in mind when you’re preparing your meal, as vegetables like carrots can be cut in a variety of different ways and shapes to create the desired geometric effect on the plate.
This is as much a taste consideration as a visual one, but you don’t want to serve a bunch of mushy, soft foods together. They will be difficult to present in an appealing way, and may make your guests feel like they’re on some sort of post-dental surgery diet.
Again, this is more about taste than anything and is something to think about during the prep phase of the meal. Omid says, “Before cutting your produce, think about the tastes you want in your mouth at one given time. For example, if you want a red onion, tomato and cucumber taste in your mouth cut them all the same size and style (do not cut one julienne, the other diced and one in a tulip). Think about the balance you want on your palette, because gourmet cuisine is all about delicate tastes.”
Match portion sizes and plates, says blog “How to Cook Gourmet”. “Too small a plate makes an overcrowded, jumbled, messy appearance. Too large a plate may make the portions look skimpy.”
Also, balance the portion sizes of various items. If there is a main item like meat, poultry, or fish, make that the centre of attention and arrange the vegetables, side dishes, and garnish around it accordingly.
As Omid pointed out, white plates are ideal in that they’re like a canvas against which colours ‘pop’.
Serve hot foods hot, on hot plates.
Serve cold foods cold, on cold plates.
A couple extra tips from Omid:
Try stacking food with different colours and textures to create height and visual interest.
Follow the natural patterns of food whenever possible.
For a guide to different knife/cutting techniques (which Omid says is an essential skill for creative cooking and styling), check out our Pinterest board, which features this and lots of other cool food-related infographics.
And finally, for more from creative food guru Omid Jaffari, you can find him on Facebook or through the lovely new website for Botanical Cuisine.
Chef John Sedlar at Playa in LA is not just serving food. He’s making food to be part of a narrative by serving his dishes on images that become a setting, that way engaging you, the guest, in a dialogue with food.
With spring arriving in Melbourne, it’s the perfect time to grab your friends, pack some food and head to the park for a picnic. This is exactly what I am doing this Sunday through Eat With Me.
Here are my 5 tips for a great picnic.
1. FOOD AND DRINK: I love the casual nature of the picnic and the fact it’s about the outdoors rather than just the food. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create simple, transportable, delicious dishes to share with your friends.
2. PICNIC SPOTS: My top 3 places to picnic in Melbourne are:
Edinburgh Gardens, North Fitzroy. Whilst not the most scenic, there is nothing quite like being amongst the buzz of Edinburgh Gardens on a hot summer’s day. Picnics filled with goodies from Piedmontes, grills and sports games complemented by the odd guitar, singing and picnic rugs surrounded by bicycles. And if you are there between 1-4 November you will be able to check out the Village festival.
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, City. With over 160 years of heritage in these gardens, it is a favourite escape from the city. Whether you are there for the Moonlight Cinema or just soaking up the diverse collection of over 10,000 species of plants from around the world, there is plenty of space to throw down your picnic rug in this 38 hectares of parkland.
Herring Island, South Yarra. And for something different, try Herring Island which is accessible only by boat. This sculpture park is an escape from the city whilst being only 3km from the city. Access to the island is from Como Landing near Williams Rd, Toorak and Park Victoria runs a punt service throughout the Summer Arts Festival which is held on the island between January and April.
The park is a haven for nature and art lovers alike. Environmental sculptures made from natural materials reflect the island’s tranquil setting.
3. GUESTS: It’s a good idea to have some guests at your picnic and eatwithme.net makes it easier to find people to share a picnic with. You can even come and Picnic With Me this Sunday.
4. PICNIC ACCESSORIES: And for those of you who like to go the extra mile and ‘style’ your picnic, check out all the beautiful images of Picnics on our pinterest board. But please, someone remember to bring the bottle opener.
5. GAMES: My picnic game of choice is Scrabble but is anyone interested in boules, cricket, frisbee or even lawn twister?
You can also read about our last EatWithMe picnic here.
Have you got any great picnic recipes or picnic tips to share?
Interested in the cross-pollination between the worlds of food and design? Dezeen certainly were and in 2010 decided to research and report on the trend at the Milan furniture fair.
The Dezeen report explores not only food but also the way that it is prepared, presented and eaten. What did they find? Well, here are three key points:
1. Ever thought about why we have a single room dedicated to storing and preparing food? Well, Dezeen reports that with food becoming more intergrated in every part of the home, the idea of a kitchen could be a thing of the past. We may all soon have kitchens that are simply a workshop like Bulthaup’s workshop kitchen below.
2. Designers are increasingly becoming more concerned about the way people interact with each other, objects and spaces rather than the creating objects. Designers are keen to work out how to make those interactions more interesting and meaningful. This is shown in the work of Kiki van Eijk in which she dressed a large table with her own designed objects with the centre object being a large terrine from which communal soup can be served to encourage her guests to, literally, share food. Her philosophy is that:
“…a good meal is an evening with friends around a table and a lot of courses, a lot of pure food, and the most important thing is that somebody made it for you. It doesn’t matter if its high cuisine or not. At my table the terrine is the basic thing of the whole set-up because that really symbolises the sharing altogether. You make one big pot with either a stew or a salad or a soup and you share it with everyone around the table”
3. Designers are reintroducing lost rituals and experiences into the dining experience as seen in the work of Ioli Kalliopi Sifakaki. Sifakaki created a project in which she made ceramic dishes from her own body parts and then invited her male friends to eat from these ceramic body parts. The project was based on Greek myth in which a man called Tantalus boils his son Pelops and offers him up as food to the gods to appease them. For Sifakaki, “The ritual of eating is the key element in my work”.
Whilst the report is from 2010, it is a great read and is still highly relevant to the direction of food design. Do yourself a favour and read it.
Whilst writing my blog on foraging, I started thinking…What native foods do we have in Australia that we rarely see or use in the kitchen? Here are a few that you may want to try next time you need an Australian flavour.
Aniseed Myrtle - The spice made from the crushed leaves of Aniseed Myrtle has a subtle sweet liquorice flavour. A fine light green powdered which can be used anywhere that you require a subtle aniseed flavour such as steamed rice, seafood, stocks, breads, biscuits, desserts or beverages. Try this Aniseed Myrtle Biscotti recipe.
Bush Tomato - Also known as the desert raisin because of its appearance when dried. It has a strong tamarillo and caramel character, with a strong spicy aftertaste. It can be used to enhance any tomato dish, pasta, pizza or even used as a thickener as it hydrates when cooked. Ground, it is an easy form of this spice, to sprinkle on baked vegetables, into sauces and bread mixes. Try this Bush Tomato Napoli recipe.
Desert Lime - A strong and piquant citrus flavour. No peeling required and you can use them whole at ¼ the equivalent weight of Tahitian limes. Try this Vodka & Desert Lime Martini Snapper recipe.
Davidson’s Plums (pictured below)-These plums have a very sour plum flavour but it is a unique flavouring for sweet and savoury and satay sauces, preserves, dressings, desserts. This brilliant deep purple plums turn a bright pink in oil. Try this Davidson Plum Crumble recipe.
Mountain Pepper This spice has a very hot and distinctive aromatic taste which can be used a substitute for pepper. Mountain pepper berries have an intense and aromatic heat which develops and leaves a pleasant dry aftertaste. Use ground pepper berries in slow cooking dishes such as curries and chili dishes.
Paperbark -Rolls of tea tree bark similar to thick paper. Paperbark is a good garnishing mat and when burnt infuses white meat and other starchy vegetables with a smoky flavor. Try this Barramundi in Paperbark recipe.
I’ve noticed that as I get older, my definition of what constitutes a great time has changed. When I scan my adult life for truly happy moments, many of them are in foreign countries or at great concerts, but even more take place around a table. The turkey dinner my best friend and I cooked for a group of dear friends for Easter. Holding court at the ‘kids’ table’ at family weddings, catching up with my now-adult cousins. Not so much the big nights out, but brunch with friends the morning after, having a laugh about the previous night. A failed attempt at fondue in my very first apartment, and many other nights involving too much wine and too much cheese.
It seems I’m not alone. Adam Gopnik begins his recent book, The Table Comes First, with a letter written by Jacques Decour, a German professor in France, in 1942. Imprisoned by the Nazis, Decour writes a letter to his parents in anticipation of his impending death:
All these last days I have thought a lot about the good meals that we should have together when I was free…During these two months of solitude without even anything to read I have run over in my mind all my travels, all my experiences, all the meals I have eaten. I had an excellent meal with Sylvain on the 17th. I have often thought of it with pleasure, as well as of the New Year’s supper with Pierre and Renee. Questions of food, you see, have taken on a great importance.
“Questions of food seem to have taken on a great importance for us now, too,” Adam Gopnik writes; it is these questions that The Table Comes First addresses.
Our questions, though—“should we eat locally? Stop eating meat altogether, and if so, should we do it out of humanity or for our health?”—are different from Decour’s, and, Gopnik suggests, often rather small in comparison to his.
Decour’s questions of food are less about food, really, than they are about eating—a fundamentally human ritual enjoyed with loved ones, and one that “forms the core of our memories.”
This is part of our modern obsession with gastronomy, Gopnik writes: “Having made food a more fashionable object, we have ended up making eating a smaller subject.”
Gopnik recalls the British chef Fergus Henderson’s exasperation at how a young couple could begin their lives together by purchasing a sofa or a television rather than a table. “Don’t they know the table comes first?”
Expanding on this idea, Gopnik writes:
The table comes first, before the meal and even before the kitchen where it’s made. It precedes everything in remaining the one plausible hearth of family life…The table also comes first in the sense that its drama—the people who gather at it, the conversation that flows across it, and the pain and romance that happen around it—is more essential to our real lives, and also to the real life of food in the world, than any number of arguments about where the zucchini came from, and how far it had to travel before it got there.
In subsequent essays, Gopnik does consider these other food questions—those related to the locavore movement and vegetarianism, for example—but only as part of an exploration of the meaning of food and eating in its social, cultural, and historical context.
In one essay, Gopnik debunks the myth that the restaurant was invented following the French Revolution due to an abundance of out-of-work chefs whose aristocratic employers had been beheaded. The restaurant was invented in France, and around that time, but it evolved out of the table d’hote, which was a “big public table where you took what was being served…As you ate, you were expected to talk and joke and kid around with the other people at the table, including the host.”
It all starts with, and comes back to, the table.
If you’re interested in these and other questions of food and its meaning in our lives, I recommend that you check out Gopnik’s book.
What are your favourite memories around tables and food? We would love to hear from you.
Little Cupcakes eat with us at the State of Design festival
If you’re a Melbourne foodie you can’t have missed a cute little shop on Degraves Lane that bakes fresh handmade cupcakes.
Little Cupcakes must be loved by Melbournians as they’ve opened two more shops in the city - one on Queen and one on William Street.
Eat With Me loves Little Cupcakes too! And we want to share them with you. Come to our event at the State of Design festival and experince a night with strangers who might end up being your friends, delicious food and … little cupcakes! :)
When I started travelling as a wide-eyed (and broke) 19-year-old, food wasn’t exactly a central part of the experience. Of course, in Italy I ate pizza and gelato daily (or thrice daily), and in France I consumed vast amounts of pungent cheese on baguettes. But my travel style was mostly about getting as far as I could on my meager budget.
That’s changed in recent years. After eating my way through Southeast Asia a few years ago, I realised how much better travelling is when you’re well-fed. As Don George points out in Lonely Planet's A Moveable Feast,
Travel and food are inseparably intertwined…One truth is clear: wherever we go, we need to eat. As a result, when we travel, food inevitably becomes one of our prime fascinations–and pathways into a place. On the road, food nourishes us not only physically, but intellectually, emotionally and spiritually too. I’ve learned this countless times all around the globe. In fact, many of my finest travel memories revolve around food.
I couldn’t agree more. And it would seem that Melbourne filmmaker Rick Mereki agrees too:
EAT from Rick Mereki on Vimeo. (Check out his MOVE and LEARN travel videos as well; they’re terrific).
But as we all know, not all food destinations are created equal. So what are the best places to travel if food is a priority?
In the Western world where there is a lot of talk about the next food trend, the latest restaurant and the dish of the year, it’s easy to forgot that many people in the world go hungry.
WeFeedback is a social media initiative of the United Nations World Food Programme which is helping to fight hunger through a new approach which is social, fun and focused on the positive.
Like eatwithme.net, WeFeedback believes that food is an amazing medium to create social change; it is a canvas for creativity and ultimately can bring people together. WeFeedback aims to harness the exuberance, creativity and sense of identity people associate with food by tapping into a powerful positive force for change by simply asking you to calculate how many children you can feed for the same cost of your favourite food. Pretty powerful stuff.
How It Works
“You choose your favorite food, put it into the Feedback Calculator along with the estimated cost, and then calculate how many hungry children this would feed. The next step is to donate exactly that amount. Or, if you want, you donate multiples of that amount. In this way you feedback more portions of your favorite food.
At this point you are already a member of the WeFeedback community. But in order to participate fully, there is another step: share details of your favorite food and your feedback with others. You can do this through your networks by using the tools here. They then ask their networks and before you know it, we have thousands of people like you using their networking skills to raise awareness for a great cause.”
Each year, the World Food Programme brings food to millions of people so they receive an education, find employment and create a better life for their families. Afterall, food is the very thing that sustains us all.
So when you are ordering your next meal, think about your feedback and make it constructive.
Please share this post with your network and help promote wefeedback.org