Wednesday, May 07, 2008

an art discussion

My slightly more clean than a week ago garage was home to an argument recently between me and a friend, Franklin. He decided to bring the argument onto the internet tubes which requires I answer in kind. Feel free to click over and pay Franklin a visit and read his misguided opinion as my post mostly answers his arguments with my own as opposed to a more normal presentation and discussion of ideas that I might go into were this one of my normal rants.

The argument is whether or not food is art. I will allow that foods can be used to create art, and I will even add that I feel food can be presented artistically, but I do not believe that food is art.

A main argument is that art can be created out of disparate elements, things that would not generally go together, and they can be put together in a way that tells the story the artist intends or to elicit some feeling or emotion. Food however, if one intends to create good and edible food, needs to be created with elements that go together.

The suggestion that anything edible appeals to someone is invalid in my opinion. Certainly we have to accept that certain cultures enjoy foods that other cultures wouldn't recognize as food, but that suggests that culture has less to do with it than familiarity.

The majority of foods people eat are rather old combinations. Over time, as people have experimented with food combinations, things that don't work were allowed to fall by the side. They don't work because the vast majority of people have agreed that they are not good combinations, that they don't produce good food.

Art encompasses a variety of mediums, and it is possible to create work that some will call art while others see as not art. Food is created from a variety of elements and can be produced using a variety of tools, but in the end the food must taste good and be edible. Art can be either ugly or beautiful and need not even make sense. Food, along with being edible and good flavored needs also to be presented well. A diner presented the very finest dish of perfectly seared scallops atop a perfect portion of garlicky grits will indeed be happy, though if you place it under a dome covered in shit and vomit, even though the shit and vomit never touch or befoul the food, the same diner will likely move along to the next option.

It's really more about certain inherent rules. Art need not be pretty or attractive to be appreciated. Food must maintain a certain dynamic of attractive and flavorful in order to be acceptable as food.

p.s. a little edit to add that the great and mighty Wordpress apparently is neither as great nor as mighty as some would have us believe, otherwise they would let me sign in. I am registered there at least twice, one of my own and one via Franklin, and neither of them work.

I'd rather be

At the end of a recent post, Bigg said,
But that's the tragedy of being gay; not that we are so oppressed (because that's what makes you strong), but that there are so very few of us. Kinda makes me wish sometimes that we really could recruit the way the televangelists say we do, you know?

The first part of this quote has been stuck in my head since I read it, and it's been joined by another line that was said to me at work recently.

There's a guy there who is, while not especially fat, certainly contains a bonus share of girth. One of my first days I referred to him quite thoughtlessly as "biggun." I admit it was shitty, but to my lame credit, the moment he said something about it I stopped. I've even pointed out to another employee that it was sort of shitty to continue to refer to this person in terms of his weight issue.

This same large coworker was recently making jokes about my gayness. I truly don't want to be overly sensitive, and I don't expect the entire kitchen to restrain themselves. I understand fully that I work in a professional kitchen and that the norms of the environment require that we all be a bit thick skinned. But I also support the right of everyone to be able to feel safe and respected within that environment. I won't stand for racism or sexism at work, directed at me or at anyone else, and I also won't take homophobic comments.

I will remake the point regarding the environment. It's a kitchen. I understand and accept exactly what that means. I know the cucumber joke is going to come up, and I know I can either counter it with a snappy comeback neatly skewering the person making the joke, or I can fully agree with the comment and give them the shock that comes with that.

The large coworker, though I now don't recall what was said, was making comments that I felt were a little over the line. There was a certain intent in his voice that bothered me. I took a moment to remind him of the "biggun" day, pointing out that based on a single comment from him I had ceased making size based comments and had not made those comments since. If I thought that would help I was mistaken as his next comment proved . . .

The line that keeps running through my head much like a song that gets stuck, he said, "I'd rather be fat than gay." Of course I immediately told him I'd personally rather be gay, but how much can that really help when someone's opinion of you is automatically less based solely on such a minor detail as sexuality?