Food as art, art as food, and the luxury of eating beauty

I have long viewed the world as an aesthetic wonderland. I love Art (with a capital A), but one of my great joys is finding beautiful and challenging things amidst activities of everyday life. Seeing art in a museum is always a joy, but to me, seeing defaced posters on a scaffold on the way to the subway is often more exhilarating, because it makes my routine just a bit more memorable.

I went to Japan for the first time last year and noticed, immediately, that aesthetics permeated everyday space in wonderfully delicate and subtle and seductive ways. The packaging for even the smallest purchase was perfectly folded, beautifully designed, and elegantly presented upon completed sale. The fruit in specialty stores was rich in color, rounded, and plump, shown as luscious objects whose looks could be rivaled only by implied flavor. The chocolates looked more like Donald Judd sculpture than confections:


The food has stuck with me, perhaps more than anything else. The idea of consuming beauty was not new to me: every time I look at a painting, I consume with my eyes. But digesting in an actual sense–imbibing and chewing and swallowing–gives the absorption another sort of richness. This became clearest for me during a meal at Narisawa exactly one year ago. The pictures can speak for themselves:


“Essence of the Forest”


“Chiayu, Sweet fish”


“”Ash 2009″ Scene of the seashore”