Response Essay “Art, Culture, & Cuisine”
Although another tough piece to digest, “Art, Culture, & Cuisine,” by Phyllis Pray Bober; emitted intermittent flashbacks of Professor McAndrew – as she revealed to us her reasoning to base this class upon food.
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It had not occurred to me that there is an infinite number way to use and observe food, in relation to art and literature. Personally, I have continued to overlook the fact that a particular … banana, sandwich, pot-roast, etc. may be used by a writer or artist, for a specific – intended purpose. Moreover, the human necessity to require food has caused this relationship to transcend cultures. We all need food to survive, and it is intriguing how we humans have created thousands of flavors of food from differing ethnic areas. These tastes can be influenced by religion, environment, and many other factors that develop within a community.
Nowhere more apparent of this, Bober explores the contrast between the cultures of East and West. In particular, she talks of Chinese and French cuisine in relation to art. Sometimes the value of a particular edible item may be profound within one population, however, another group may lack knowledge of the very same item. For example; rice, a staple of Asian countries, might be more likely to be found on a Chinese painter’s canvas versus an artist from France who might use another form of starch that has become common in their area.
She gives another example of the contrast by discussing the differences between the menus of these very same cultures; siting the French menu to have a “sense of structure, of classical order, in the presentation of a formal French meal. Whereas “a Chinese menu … unlfold(s) melodically with an ebb and flow like landscape painting on a horizontal scroll.”(p. 6) Bober expands on this idea a little when she discusses the differences in “texture,” and “color,” on any given dish, and tries to deduce if this supports the idea that “we are, indeed, what we eat.”(p. 1)
Being that this piece, is in itself, is an introduction; it babbled on tangents that seemed possible of filling an entire novel. However, the reading did continue to evoke pockets of interest in the area of food application. When I sit down for a Chinese meal, it will now be very aparent to me that there “fish heads, duck feet, … jellyfish, (and) tree fungus,”(p.6) on the menu, whereas if I would have gone to any French or european restaurant, I will not find any food of that nature with which to choose.
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