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Bob G

Food Creativity

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Artistic expression is linked to a sense. The visual arts, the crafts like furniture design that can be artistic, and music comes by hearing. These two senses, sight and hearing, are considered the dominate ones for man.

What about the other senses, could we consider certain things we smell, taste, or touch artistic? We know, for example, that smell can elicit strong memories or emotions. Sexual attraction is supposedly conveyed through certain chemicals emitted by our bodies.

My reason for this a thought that the creations of a master chef, playing on our taste buds and our sense of smell, might raise to an “art form”. I put that in quotation marks because art, the real thing, must address our values in some significant method, even though we might not understand it now, e.g., music. I am not going to suggest that a dinner that might be called “artistic” reaches our core values.

I am suggesting that the creation of a food dish can have artistic elements, art for the taste buds and the nose.

Overblown? Appropriate for some circumstances? Recognition for a branch of human achievement that is often overlooked? Anyone….

Remember that composers were considered at the level of stable hands in the 18th century. During the Renaissance, painters were considered tradesmen because they worked with their hands.

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As a professional chef myself this topic comes up a lot.

There's a certain glamour associated with being an artist whereas hard, dirty, sweaty manual labor (for that is what cooking it) not so much.

For that reason the most recent generation of new cooks (I'd say for the past ten years or so) all want to consider what they do art. Also, because secretly in their heart of hearts most of them don't really want to do the work but are hoping they will someday get themselves a cooking show and book deals.

This of course explains all the bad overpriced restaurants out there :D

To me what it comes down to is... artist, craftman, tradeperson, journeyman... what does it matter what classification of labor you or anyone considers the work to fall under?

My advice to young cooks is to stop worrying about whether you are called an artist or a tradesperson and just focus on doing the work and doing it well. It is the work itself that matters, not what the work is called.

Regarding cooking as art though..? By definition it is a craft. And like any craft it can be done with varying levels of artfullness. But art, truly ART exists in its own paradigm. A great statue is a great statue even if no one currently likes it- it lasts and someday it may be appreciated Art has an absolute value, in and of itself for its own pupose.

Food is temporary, fleeting and is to be consumed. If you make something and no one wants to eat it... then what is it?

Whereas a work of art can be buried for a thousand years and there it is, art, waiting to be discovered. Food, waiting for someone to come around and decide to enjoy it just gets cold, moldy, smelly and fly crusted.

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I would say recreating scents can be art. In the same way someone recreates a visual scene with great accuracy or masterful use of lighting, someone could do something similar with scent. The strong link between smells and memory could be harnessed to create either a single scent that brings about a strong memory (obviously someone would have to know you well to be able to illicit this response in you - or the artist would have to select a common scent with which many would be familiar) or a series of scents to bring about a flood of important memories in your life. It could be as simple as creating a scent that embodies a scene, such as a meadow or a baseball field or a waterfall.

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Which is why I don't bother with them.

Exactly.

Run like hell from any place where the chef/cook refers to himself/herself as an artist.

Real food at reasonable prices are to be found in places where cooks toil in relative anonymity content with being skilled laborers.

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I would say recreating scents can be art. In the same way someone recreates a visual scene with great accuracy or masterful use of lighting, someone could do something similar with scent. The strong link between smells and memory could be harnessed to create either a single scent that brings about a strong memory (obviously someone would have to know you well to be able to illicit this response in you - or the artist would have to select a common scent with which many would be familiar) or a series of scents to bring about a flood of important memories in your life. It could be as simple as creating a scent that embodies a scene, such as a meadow or a baseball field or a waterfall.

I think this makes a good argument for perfumery as art(atleast modern perfumery, which is sometimes reffered to as 'abstract perfumery', that consists of mixing different notes). Like music speaks directly to our emotions I think perfumes can speak directly to memories and asociations. However, I don't think this applies to cooking because it does not recreate anything.

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I think this makes a good argument for perfumery as art(atleast modern perfumery, which is sometimes reffered to as 'abstract perfumery', that consists of mixing different notes). Like music speaks directly to our emotions I think perfumes can speak directly to memories and asociations. However, I don't think this applies to cooking because it does not recreate anything.

If you haven't seen it Perfume:The story of a murderer is a great movie. If you don't mind movies with some graphic violent content I highly recommend it.

In fact, now that I think of it I'll probably put it in my Netflix queue right now.

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If you haven't seen it Perfume:The story of a murderer is a great movie. If you don't mind movies with some graphic violent content I highly recommend it.

In fact, now that I think of it I'll probably put it in my Netflix queue right now.

I have, and thought it was a fantastic movie! Now that you mentioned it I might actually have to see it again. :lol:

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Are the senses of smell, touch and taste actually appropriate for art?

I'm not sure it can actually be possible to integrate any sort of concepts through these senses.

Taste is the detection of certain chemicals by the tongue. We can detect them individually or in combinations. Let's assume (though I doubt it is true) that the fundamental tastes are sweet, salty, bitter, etc.

Something can taste sweet, or maybe even both sweet and bitter, but this is the extent of the combinations. If we took every colour in a painting and mixed them on a canvas, or drew a square containing each colour - we would sense the same fundamental thing (red, blue, green, pink) but it most certainly would not be art.

Vision lets us say both "I see red, blue, green and orange on this page", those are the sensations. These can then be integrated into perceptions "I see red, blue, green and orange (sensation) on this page, it creates an image of a duck (perception)

These percepts can then be integrated in the appropriate context into concepts "I see red, blue, green and orange on this page (sensation), it creates an image of a duck (perception), stylised to emphasise the motion of its flight in a romanticist way (concept). Art is on the conceptual level. A smear isn't art, a photograph isn't art.

This level of integration is nowhere near possible with taste. We can sense the chemicals, but I am not even sure perceptual integration of these is possible, let alone conceptual.

Any comments?

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Are the senses of smell, touch and taste actually appropriate for art?

I'm not sure it can actually be possible to integrate any sort of concepts through these senses.

Taste is the detection of certain chemicals by the tongue. We can detect them individually or in combinations. Let's assume (though I doubt it is true) that the fundamental tastes are sweet, salty, bitter, etc.

Something can taste sweet, or maybe even both sweet and bitter, but this is the extent of the combinations. If we took every colour in a painting and mixed them on a canvas, or drew a square containing each colour - we would sense the same fundamental thing (red, blue, green, pink) but it most certainly would not be art.

Vision lets us say both "I see red, blue, green and orange on this page", those are the sensations. These can then be integrated into perceptions "I see red, blue, green and orange (sensation) on this page, it creates an image of a duck (perception)

These percepts can then be integrated in the appropriate context into concepts "I see red, blue, green and orange on this page (sensation), it creates an image of a duck (perception), stylised to emphasise the motion of its flight in a romanticist way (concept). Art is on the conceptual level. A smear isn't art, a photograph isn't art.

This level of integration is nowhere near possible with taste. We can sense the chemicals, but I am not even sure perceptual integration of these is possible, let alone conceptual.

Any comments?

All you're saying is that our ability to discriminate objects in reality through taste is not as good as through sight. If it were, it would by definition be possible to identify most anything as distinct from anything else. "I taste chemicals X, Y, Z - it must be a badger." Obviously smell is more appropriate for this example, since it doesn't require direct contact, but it applies to any of the senses. Combine the sense of smell of a bloodhound with the reasoning capacity of a human, and you'll have someone who forms concepts from smells alone.

Edited by brian0918

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Vision lets us say both "I see red, blue, green and orange on this page", those are the sensations. These can then be integrated into perceptions "I see red, blue, green and orange (sensation) on this page, it creates an image of a duck (perception)

The same thing goes for smell. One of my favorite perfumes constists of lilac, water, orange, cucumber and wheat(and probably a mixture of others that are not mentioned officially); I smell a beautiful garden after a summers rain. The combination of notes plays on my asociations and memories to create that picture, not much unlike how a melody can play on your emotions.

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As a professional chef myself this topic comes up a lot.

There's a certain glamour associated with being an artist whereas hard, dirty, sweaty manual labor (for that is what cooking it) not so much.

For that reason the most recent generation of new cooks (I'd say for the past ten years or so) all want to consider what they do art. Also, because secretly in their heart of hearts most of them don't really want to do the work but are hoping they will someday get themselves a cooking show and book deals.

QuoVadis, I am happy that you responded to this thread. I appreciate your input.

First, I am not a chef. It is interesting that this is an issue in your profession. I understand your annoyance with the pretentious and those who aren’t willing to work for their fame.

But, let’s admit that there is a lot of pretension in cooking as in every other area of endeavor. Let’s admit that true creativity in cooking is rare as it is in every other profession. Let’s admit that there are lots of young people who want fame without doing anything to deserve it. Let’s admit that there are a lot of good cooks, of the same level as picture painters, or others who make stuff for us to put on our walls, but are not artists.

Let’s ignore all of that and talk about real values, real creativity, the real. Let’s consider that a cook can understand his craft, his tools, his “substance”, i.e., the material he works on, to attain a level of creativity that is an art, or maybe, artistic.

I do not agree that time is an issue. Besides, I know people who remember their best meals. I remember some.

Many crafts are considered artistic. Cooks are not digging ditches. I think that there are artistic elements to many professions, for example, a furniture maker, a jewelry maker, a perfumer, and many others.

My focus would be the creative end of the profession. The innovators, the edgey cooks, the ones pushing the “envelope”. I am thinking of the experiences of eating where one takes a mouthful, stops, leans back and experiences the wonder of living. There can be an experience of greatness in taste.

“Recreation” is an interesting issue. No, it is not a recreation of reality, it is actually working with reality to create some thing for us to taste, something different than the cook started with. How is music a recreation? It is using the medium, as is perfumery or cooking. This is of the medium.

Bottom line for me right now, I am not ready to claim that the sense of taste has the requisite makeup to have an art. If it did, cooking could, in certain circumstances, rise to the level of art.

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One needs realize that in pre-Christian times, there was known the 'art of cooking' - as the Greeks defined art' as 'skill of mind in making'... but taste, as with smell, is an 'earthly' enjoyment, and this was taboo to the afterlife wants of Christianity... only in the Renaissance era, when earthly delights again made their prominence, was the possibility of 'art of cooking' again raised... as to its permanence, the same with music - comes and goes, but remains possible thru the sheets of notations, just as recipes used for the cooking do for that...

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