Can food be art?
Should we encourage kids to play with their food?
|Pancake Bears! And yes, these painty-looking tables in our photos really are super clean.|
This week at BCA Summer Camp I taught Edible Art. This class dates back to 2007, when I offered the idea for the first time because there was a full kitchen next to one of the BCA classrooms, and as it happens, I love to cook. Like, really love to cook, baking in particular. Before college I took a semester off to attend the Ritz-Escoffier Ecole de Cuisine and earned a degree in French pastry. (Cue food nerd alarms.)
|Cyclops Apple Owl!|
In my own head, food and art have always been linked. As a kid, my mother humored me while I explored all of her amazing kitchen tools and wasted tremendous amounts of food attempting things like carving melons or making green pepper-topped palm trees perched on raw glossy potato islands for a dinner centerpiece. You know, on like a Tuesday, after school. That kind of food nerd. When all of the cool kids my own age were listening to their Pocket Rockers and were calling each other from one of these sweet phones that I never had:
Anyway, I played with my food a lot as a kid, and therefore grew up a pretty experimental eater, and am happy to say that even now in my thirties I still am discovering that I like new foods I thought I hated (black olives? Turns out that they are delicious.) Preparing food is a lot like making an artwork. You have to think about the colors, forms, and presentation. You also have to think about the textures, smells, and how long it will last.
Lot of people dedicate their time to turning food into art, especially the proliferating blogs of bento box masterpieces that people are making their children. I believe that there really aren't too many rules with food beyond keeping your hands and prep space clean, and making something that looks yummy enough that people want to eat it.
|And eat it, they do!|
Why? Because it makes eating healthy food more fun. We spend a lot of time telling our kids what to eat, but not making it look especially apealling, and not involving the kids themselves in the process. If you get your child into the kitchen, and ideally into the garden, they will be much more willing to try not only new foods, but foods they have tried fifteen other times and swore they didn't like at all.
|Banana Dachshunds, snuggling.|
This week my awesome campers cooked up a storm. We used fruits, veggies, breads, cheeses, and all manner of treats- because treats are important too! Here are their amazing self-portrait cupcakes:
|Good gracious these are cute. Imagine your child making them for a birthday party, one for each friend coming?|
A close-up of a few lovelies:
|That earnest expression!|
Several times this week campers professed to disliking certain foods, especially sunflower butter. And apples are "so boring"! But together with five mini marshmallows, and I think that there are suddenly a lot of Halloween parties being planned for this fall in Burlington.
Seeing these stuffed into the mouths of campers as faux grins was simultaneously hilarious and slightly disturbing. Both, to be sure.
But where is the art historical education?! Oh, pish posh. First of all, it's summer, and not school. But second, yes, we do talk about artists. The first one I introduced this week was Jeff Koons, and his hilariously poofey dog sculptures.
And naturally, we made it out of grapes and skewers. It was a technical and engineering feat that offered room for creative expression.
|Grape dachshund in progress.|
|Aren't they hilarious?|
These led to all kinds of other objets d'art including pyramids, prisms, and this one that eventually became an octodog.
So play with your food, and let your kids in on the fun. Open up Pinterest and find some ideas, and maybe they will make you dinner tonight!
|Strawberry Sandwiches- bubbling with cuteness, no real fish involved!|
Have a yummy summer!