Saturday, August 2, 2008

Permanence and Transience: Cooking vs. Art

My mother is an excellent cook. She can make just about anything from Moroccan tagine to traditional pot roast. And she can cook for the masses, catering my entire wedding, my cousin's wedding and both mine and my sis's Bat Mitzvahs. Absolutely none of this talent was passed on to me. Or maybe it was but never fully realized as I hate to cook.

I like the idea of pleasing my friends, exacting their love and admiration through gastronomy; but I loathe the notion of spending time creating these pleasures. Food is temporary. Hours spent, adding a pinch of this, a spoonful of that, seem wasted on transience.

Please do not get me wrong. I love cooks. I love food. I love home cooking. I am fortunate to reap the benefits of those whose creativity is ignited by food, whom are impassioned by the combination of spices, the grouping of flavors.

My art, however, is born out of a yearning for permanence. I screen print my images so they will last for centuries to come rather than using a computer to lifelessly copy my work. I hand-paint my cards so they are kept; records of a time and place serving as personal histories. The notion that what I create may last lifetimes excites me and serves to motivate.

But a good meal is remembered. I will never forget the calamari in Turkey or the steak in Belgium or my mother's homemade grapeleaves. And that recollection I pass on to others, as I do now. Thus cooking is not momentary, rather the memory intangible.

Thus I present Bouillon Kub (my homage, painted in gouache on wood, to the original bouillon cube packaging in France circa 1920 and, from what I understand, still used today) to all the amazing cooks out there. May your food be forever remembered.

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