Art on a Platter: Edible Art has Been a Top Trend this Quarantine

Masterpieces made of noodles, paintings on toast and eatable gardens on bread.

Annabelle D’Costa

Food has been the showstopper this lockdown – a saving grace, an escape, a topic to discuss, share and showoff, in equal measure, via drool-worthy images on Instagram. The period of quarantine, globally, has helped affirm that indeed, food is a form of art, for what is art but a tool for expression. And among the budding chefs, the aficionados and the sceptics, are a truly special crop of gourmands who’re transforming food to art, quite literally. In playing with food, they are turning ordinary ingredients and pantry staples into masterpieces, propelling it towards a deliciously golden standard of artistry. Take a look at some of our best picks:

One for the layman
Thailand-based Jadey Ezekiel Detera, who claims not to be a chef, has been making budget meals look fine-dine standard. Detera reimagines pantry staples, like sardines, corned beef and instant noodles into well-plated dishes, which he has christened, The Middle-Class Lockdown Meal. He shares these images on Facebook. The 42-year-old Filipino’s first post shared on 21 April has since garnered over 42K shares. 

Eat Your Masterpiece

Created in April, the Russian-language Facebook group called Izoizolyacia or Art Isolation, now has around 600K members and a flurry of posts that include Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Henri Matisse's famous painting Dance. While the Mona Lisa is made of lentils, buckwheat and beans, Dance is made using sausage, red cabbage, spinach and radish. Encouraging people to recreate masterpieces, this open group started by Natalia Goroshko also includes pictures of members dressed in elaborate costumes recreating famous artworks with varying degrees of accuracy (and humour).

Raise a Toast to This

Japanese artist and designer Manami Sasaki has been using her toast as a canvas to create edible masterpieces. Using food, a  needle and a butter knife, Sasaki creates "Stay Home Breakfast" that feature before-and-after images of designs on toast, baked or grilled to perfection. Her most recent number, inspired by the movie, The Lobster, made use of sour cream, squid ink and seaweed.

Life of Pie

Pastry designer Karin Pfeiff-Boschek’s sweet and savoury pies are almost too pretty to eat. Each of her creations come topped with delicate floral motifs of flaky dough, artfully arranged slices of fruit or delicious-looking geometric patterns. To make them truly edible, Boschek uses natural colours made from turmeric root, spinach leaf, beetroot and dried berries.

It’s EXTRAordinary

Montreal-based Gab Boi gives ordinary objects, mind-bending facelifts and then, photographs it. The results are often bizarre, and yet, clever and imaginative. Think a tiny iron flattening out a crinkled chip, or coffee beans in the form of tablets, thongs made out of cheese strings, necklaces out of pretzels and bras out of eggs.

Paint You a Dish

Artist Claire Salvo has been recreating famous works of art using supplies from the pantry and fridge. “Everything I use goes back in the box or into my dinner. No food is wasted!” she writes on her Instagram. Some of the Los Angeles-based artist’s creations include 
Frida, Hecho de Comida, a take on Frieda Kahlo’s self-potrait, made with tomato, peppers, onion, Triscuits, raisins, dates, black lentils, cabbage, swiss chard, and sweet potato; and Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, using spaghetti. 

Draw Your Bread and Eat it Too

Focaccia art or bread garden art has been a top trend this quarantine season. Here, enthusiasts 
use breads and embellish them with colourful vegetables, herbs and flower stem to create edible gardens, floral bouquets and paintings. The forerunner for this trend, has been  baker Teri Culletto, who has helped put the “art in artisan breads.” Culletto has drawn inspiration from Van Gogh’s paintings and is now, cheekily calling her work, Van Dough. Guilty of succumbing to this trend is also Nandita Iyer (@saffrontrails), a self-taught chef, blogger and also cookbook author. Manipur-based artist Rin Jajo too has been using up his free time to experiment in the kitchen, and try his hand at bread garden art.   

No denying that even before lockdown, desis had been warming up to the idea of making sourdough. Today, a casual search for #sourdough on Instagram throws up more than 3.5 million posts. Though not all are works of art, it's pretty evident that almost everyone - well, except you, is up and about making sourdough during the quarantine.

Taking their sourdough-making skills to the next level, now, many are even taking to scoring  - the technique of slashing bread dough with a knife or blade before baking it. Take for instance self-taught baker Hannah Page of @blondieandrye who has off late tapped into her artistic side, baking loaves of bread that are practically works of art. Joining her are Natasha Minocha (@tashasartisanfoods) and Purabi Naha (@purabinaha), who have not only recently taken to sourdough making but also scoring while under lockdown.


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