Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood (Europa, 2013)

    From childhood to old age, he pursued the tastes of everything, aggressively, bravely and
sometimes alone, in secret. It's a piqu

  Jean-Marie d'Aumont grows ( one might say "evolves") from, a  peasant child nibbling on a dung beatle to a connoiseur of European cuisine and well beyond that. In his quest for tastes, the experience f moving through a privileged education, at age twenty he becomes the duke of, he also finds numerous and sensuously described lead him

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Vatel, A 2000 Film About Food and Integrity in 18th Century France

Starring French actor, Gérard Depardieu.

This film offers a glimpse of was or might have been the cuisine of the court of Louis IX. The meals were extravagent spectacles, even called "miracles" when assigned to the talents of Vatel ,the Steward, the maitre d'hotel.  More than superbly grilled meats or poached seafood, there were illusionary displays and fireworks, all created though Vatel's talent and imagination, and power.. When his coveted services (i.e.talents) his whole being, are  casually "lost" in a royals' card game, he chooses an honorable departure rather than compromise his honor, staff and his responsibilities.

     Francois Vatel was born in Paris. He is widely but incorrectly credited with creating crème Chantilly (Chantilly cream), a sweet, vanilla-flavoured whipped cream, but there is no contemporary documentation for this claim, and whipped, flavored cream was known at least a century earlier.
Jun 20, 2013 - Uploaded by Filmfood Janneke
Food in Film: Vatel 2000 Starring Gérard Depardieu as the great 17th-century French chef, Francois Vatel.

    François Vatel (French pronunciation: ​[fʁɑ̃swa vatɛl]) (1631 – April 24, 1671) was the majordomo (in French, maître d'hôtel) of Nicolas Fouquet and prince Louis II de Bourbon-Condé.

     MonsieurVatel served Louis XIV's superintendent Nicolas Fouquet in the splendid inauguration fête at the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte that took place on 17 August 1661, the occasion of Fouquet's downfall.
     Vatel was responsible for an extravagant banquet for 2,000 people hosted in honour of Louis XIV by Louis, the great Condé in April 1671 at the Château de Chantilly, where he died. According to a letter by Madame de Sévigné, Vatel was so distraught about the lateness of the seafood delivery and about other mishaps that he committed suicide by running himself through with a sword, and his body was discovered when someone came to tell him of the arrival of the fish carts.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cheeses: Read all About 'Em! It's Still Summer

Clara Peeters, Still Life with Cheeses, Artichoke and Cherries,1625

                  Food in the

food art lit food art lit food art lit food art lit food art lit food art lit

   I have just fallen in love with three lovelies: Pinot Bianco, creamy blue cheese, and white peaches.  All of which bring me to some new cheese stories.

  Max Watman, The Harvest: Field Notes from a Far-Flung Pursuit of Real Food (Norton, 2014)

Review by Daniel Boulud in New York Times Book Review (July 13, 2014):

“While I was growing up on our family farm near Lyon (France), I learned the importance of seasonal produce and fully utilized livestock at an early age. Max Watman’s witty and vivid accounts of producing farm-fresh products such as cheese and preserves in a modern world brings back fond memories and had me laughing throughout.”

Having spent part of my youth at my grandfather's farm in Dutchess County, New York, I share this enthusiasm for the sight, smell and taste of fresh, out-of-the ground or off-the-tree produce. No cheeses, alas, but green beans and heirloom tomatoes (uncooked, but we didn't know about basil and olive oil), small new potatoes, rubbed clean on my bib overalls and chomped, raspberries and "blackcaps" and currents plucked from a sunny vine, and peaches and plums so ripe that they were ready to drop from the leafy branches. Very, very few people today know that sublime experience. Maybe that's why we see only styrofoam fruit and apples so hard that they qualify as lethal weapons.

I fear that my generation may be the last to create our meals with 1940s sensibilities. 

And that is but one reason why your summer reading will be wonderful when paired with the more intense drama of traditional Castilian (Spanish) artisan cheese-making (sheeps' milk) in Michael Paterniti's The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese (Dial Press, 2013). There is much poetic language about the perfection of cheese, the fulfilling connection of man and his fields, and the wisdom and satisfaction of growing food in the old ways.

Still LIfe with Bread, Ham, Cheese (1772) 
Luis Egidio Melendez (Spanish, b.Naples 1716-1780)

Quote:  For Ambrosio, cheesemaking was both beautiful and primal: the milking and hauling, the pouring and harping, the careful progression of heating that depended on the right flame, all of it down to the work of one's calloused hands, leading after a number of months to some unknown destination, some new birth, some revelation rising out of the physical.  It was an act of faith, really (p. 60).

Sheep graze in Spain's Meseta region, a place of sever weather, summer or winter.

But we find here, too, a hefty slice of Spanish political history and small-village sociology, meticulously footnoted. It all fits together, as it should, to make a grand tale (See An American Man's Quest to Become an Old Castilian -

Curiously, or perhaps not, all three tales present a hero/heroine of a small enterprise which is threatened with corporate sameness, defeat and disaster.

And to complete your summer reading scene, mix yourself a 'Bella Fresher (invented by my son-in-law and named after my granddaughter Anabelle Ash Miguelucci-Moore. How's that for personal disclosure? (2 oz vodka, muddle: sweet basil, several chunks of fresh white peaches, a dash of sugar/simple syrup, and top with a bit of ginger ale (preferably Blenheim's). One could add a leaf or two of lemon verbena, as well.

Okay, if you're not up to purchase new books, check the library for Sherri Holman's charming romance about a heroin's cheese (Jersey cows' milk) life in a small town, Three Chimneys, Virginia, The Mammoth Cheese (Grove Press, 2003). 

Margaret Pricket, a single mother and specialty cheese-maker, considers a plan for her business to survive. She takes the advice and help of a preacher (actually, several clergymen) to do a publicity stunt, to re-create the original Thomas Jefferson era 1,235 pound "Mammoth  Cheese" as a gift for the president.

And from the Danish community in Minneapolis, MN, I learned this: for a sensational cheeseburger, smear a goodly amount of blue cheese on the meat mid-way through the grilling [See The Minnesota Ethnic Food Book, 1986].

 Finally, to complete the picture, order a  cheese-friendly T-shirt from Murray's Cheese - www.murray'

Friday, July 11, 2014

Artists' KItchens and Community Outreach

Another Charlotte non-profit is King's Kitchen in the classy Uptown neighborhood.
"Second Helping", located in the colorful Central Avenue-Plaza neighborhood specializes in taking in previously incarcerated women and guiding them into jobs in the hospitality field.
That's one supportive kind of outreach. Below are some famous experiments in community sharing that,at one time, catered to artists, gallery visitors, and students.

"Food" (a cooperative restaurant) as performance art opened by Gordon Matta-Clark in 1971.  His menu was simple and his customers, local artists and neighborhood folks, enjoyed it

"Food" a1972, 43 min, b&w, sound, 16 mm film on video

This film documents the legendary SoHo restaurant and artists' cooperative Food, which opened in 1971. Owned and operated by Caroline Goodden, Food was designed and built largely by Gordon Matta-Clark (1943-1978), who also organized art events and performances there. As a social space, meeting ground and ongoing art project for the emergent downtown artists' community, Food was a landmark that still resonates in the history and mythology of SoHo in the 1970s.

Camera and Sound: Robert Frank, Suzanne Harris, Gordon Matta-Clark, Danny Seymour. Editing: Roger Welch -- EAI

Gordon Matta-Clark (born Gordon Roberto Echaurren Matta; June 22, 1943- August 27, 1978) was an American artist best known for his site-specific artworks he made in the 1970s. He is famous for his "building cuts," a series of works in abandoned buildings in which he variously removed sections of floors, ceilings, and walls.

Rirkrit Tiravanija and Tobias Rehberger who designed the bookshop and cafe (below) respectively.According to art historian Rochelle Steiner, Tiravanija's work “is fundamentally about bringing people together.[8] The artist's installations of the early-1990s involved cooking meals for gallery-goers.[9] In one of his best-known series, begun with pad thai (1990) at the Paula Allen Gallery in New York, he rejected traditional art objects altogether and instead cooked and served food for exhibition visitors. (see below)[


 He recreated the installation in 2007 at the David Zwirner gallery in Chelsea using the original elements and renaming the work untitled (Free/Still)


All of this is the work of the artist Susan Cianciolo, a fashion designer, illustrator and creator of the Run collection, which has been exhibited in smart galleries and sold at Barney's New York. Most of her shows, like this one, are multimedia affairs combining installation, performance and music. Run Restaurant is her most interactive project so far.

With the help of family, friends and assistants (the director of Alleged, Aaron Rose, is her husband) the artist built the installation, which includes dining nooks with Japanese-style tables, a tepee of sheets for the retreat and a kitchen. The gift shop stocks stitched and knitted items that more or less define the Run aesthetic: Raku teaware, scrupulously maladroit. The water garden is a little circle of rocks and plants on the floor, the modest idea of a grand thing rather than an actual grand thing.

Playing seriously with the idea of grandish things is what gives Ms. Cianciolo's work its mildly utopian lift. Run Restaurant has a faint air of a Krishna Consciousness love feast circa 1968. It recalls those edifying facilities proposed by the Russian Constructivist avant-garde where peasant workers could eat and read Marx at the same time. It also suggests an entrepreneurial update on the 1990's hospitality-art of Rirkrit Tiravanija.

Finally, while Ms. Cianciola's clothes may be priced beyond proletarian reach, Run Restaurant is a genuine bargain with a $10 fixed-price vegetarian meal, plus beverage of choice and dessert; occasionally there is evening entertainment. (HOLLAND COTTER, NY Times)

   The short-lived Restaurant de la Galerie J (1963) in Paris was his first such venture, employing art-world waiters such as critic Pierre Restany and poet/critic John Ashbery. His best-known establishment, the popular Restaurant Spoerri in Dusseldoff, opened in 1968 and featured guest chefs such as artists Joseph Beuys and Antoni Miralda.

     Two years later, he added an Eat Art Gallery on the floor above. In 1977, he, Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle, among others, set up a fetish museum and boutique in a Parisian kiosk where they displayed and sold items belonging to contemporary art personalities such as Christo, Cesar, Panamarenko and Meret Oppenheim. See Bechtler Museum, Charlotte, NC
     As a playfully entrepreneurial publisher, restaurateur and gallerist, Spoerri creatively exploited commercial transactions as a site for art.
Daniel Spoerri photographs food, especially messy tables and left-overs.