Happy Thanksgiving (and some culinary anamorphism)

ginger bread

Details from the Ginger Bread Charity Diorama at the Four Seasons Hotel, Austin, Texas. Photos by Tracie B.

Maybe it’s the little boy in me… I’ve always been fascinated with culinary anamorphism — a cultural phenomenon whereby food is refashioned to resemble something else, edible or otherwise.

ginger bread

The tradition of fashioning food to look like buildings stretches back to the Renaissance. One of the most famous examples is torrone nougat: on the occasion of the wedding of Bianca Maria Visconti to Francesco Sforza, October 25, 1441, the bride and groom were presented with a nougat replica of the city’s church bell tower, the so-called Torrione (today known as the Torrazzo) from which the sweet derived its name.

ginger bread

Another such example from recent memory is Abe Lebewohl’s depiction of Manhattan’s Twin Towers, fashioned out of chopped liver from the Second Avenue Deli.

ginger bread

The Art of Cooking by fifteenth-century Italian chef Maestro Martino (which I translated for UC Press, 2005) offers many examples of culinary anamorphism, mostly for the sake of recreating milk and eggs on days when they were forbidden by the Catholic church.

ginger bread

Last night Tracie B had to drag me away from the ginger bread diorama in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Austin. Our good friend chef Todd Duplechan oversees the creation and construction of this wondrous little city. Each edifice is auctioned off for charity (last year, a celebrity loved it so much, she paid for it to be recreated and reassembled in Las Vegas, “just so she could show how cool Austin is,” said chef Todd).

Happy Thanksgiving, ya’ll!

2 thoughts on “Happy Thanksgiving (and some culinary anamorphism)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s