My granddaughter, Alissa, is a foodie. Actually all of my family members are foodies but she is the only one who is qualified. She has been educated in the field and has years of experience in the food industry. The rest of us are just gluttons.
Alissa is also a media madwoman so we get to see on facebook pics of her culinary masterpieces frequently. I have wondered at the beauty of a plate of food on her table. Our plates never look like that. This morning I think I figured it out. You never see one of Alissa’s plates with a piece of meat over here, a mound of mashed potatoes over there and a ladle of cut green beans next to that. This is how my plates look. It is as though we were eating on those plates with dividers intended to keep your baked beans from running over and wetting your hot dog bun. On one of Alissa’s plates, you are likely to see pieces of meat with long slivers of green beans woven together like lace and pats of potatoes circling like a picture frame. On top of that you might see some kind of sauce, not neatly placed into the little round bowl made with a spoon in a mashed potatoe mound as I would do, but sauce thrown at the plate, like an abstract artist might throw paint at a canvas. Then Alissa always seems to add food just for color, something red or deeply green or brightly yellow like the sun, a sprig sticking out the side of her creation like a rake left in of a pile of hay, a testimony to the farmer’s hard work. I never have things in my refrigerator that are intended to make a plate of food look good – ever.
I guess I have just described a food artist. Those of us who have had Alissa cook for us in our kitchens have had the amazing experience of watching her do her thing. I watched her make a salad once and thought it would change the way I do salad. But it didn’t. I still make them the exact same way I always have. And they taste the same way they always have. I can’t do what the artist does. Gluttony is still my default when cooking.