Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Subway Series - I Am Pei

Food is an art form just like anything else. In the most obvious sense, it can be creatively and enticingly presented, using colors and textures to emulate visions of daily life and abstract thought. However, in its most primal sense, food is art of the body. It is experienced, absorbed, and used to fuel our daily life. So too does the great artist have an uncanny ability to experience something - a place, a time, a love affair - absorb it and use it as the fuel to create something exquisite and memorable.

I often find myself contemplating what drives the people who become the Van Gogh’s and I.M. Pei’s of the world. I imagine what goes on in their heads, and even go as far as to envy those people who are so visibly capable of taking experience and translating it into some tangible form to which an audience can immediately respond. To me, a day in their head must be like seeing music and hearing colors.

I sense the key lies in their ability to communicate something to me without the use of words. Take a painting – mere strokes of paint over a surface, but potentially moving to tears. A symphony can create joy as much as the rich baritone can inspire seductions.

The same should be said of food. A chef travels the world and draws from the sights, the flavors, the experience of the locals. Every time I shop for groceries, I get swept away into the memories of where I have been and who I have met. Every ingredient holds its own special place in my life, taking me from the humid streets of Houston to the arid valleys of LA. I hear and see a whirlwind of life and times spinning before my eyes but out of plain sight, and each time I prepare a meal I use some of myself for seasoning. Perhaps I am closer to Van Gogh than I thought...

- The UE

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