The suggestion received a thorough roasting (more on that metaphor later) from some thoughtful Symposium contributors. First, from Cape Cod via London:
Having declared my loyalty to Western music’s greatest composer, I must nevertheless question his relevance to cuisine, of whatever ethnic origin. ...
Efforts to mix methods and formal structures from different disciplines, thus converting them into metaphors, can be amusing ... but the novelty soon wears off. ... To compare one’s successive mouthfuls with the structure of various art forms would, I think, verge on the precious.
I don't think that "counterpoint" contributes anything in the way of understanding or clarification.
Then Pan and Oraklet weighed in:
[Contemporary chefs' use of novel language to describe their dishes] relates to the use of musical terms when talking about food. There is an inexorable trend, born of advertising, to invent catchy new words for familiar concepts. It's called jargon, and there are dictionaries devoted to it which become obsolete as soon as they are published. But it's not surprising that a public which demands endlessly new sensations would want new words to describe them -- or new words for old sensations when inventiveness is exhausted.
Music and food are both pleasures of human existence, but they are quite distinct from each other and each must be understood and enjoyed in its own terms.
And finally Ian offered a perspective from the far reaches of Kansas -- or perhaps it's kansas, another place entirely.
the theoretical apparatuses of music or the visual arts are, as far as i know, pretty well advanced compared to that of food and wine. so, when trying to describe what's going on in a fine meal, it's tempting to use the vocabulary of music or visual art. it's never the less inadequate, and probably wrong. gastronomy will have to find it's own ways of theorizing - without analogies. it will perhaps be developed, now that accademia seems to have finally discovered it.
Your collective point, as I understand it, is that comparisons across the arts, the use of music as a way of theorising about gastronomy, in Oraklet's words, are inherently suspect.
i still have a hard time swallowing the comparison between music and food, which is OK, since i'm from kansas. the reasons for my hesitation have been vented here before, especially because i think there's a lot to be learned from pretty much all artistic media; nor do i find there to be such a degree of similarity between the two that music should be the most oft-paralleled art form.
My question and challenge to you: why? We often use gastronomic metaphors to illuminate other domains of existence: a crisp statement, a sour expression, a bitter utterance. Ian couldn't swallow the comparison offered between food and music. People hunger for love or companionship. I'll switch off the metaphor mixer now.
Obviously all cross-domain comparisons are limited. Music seems somewhat appropriate to food, though, because of the time element involved (a painting can hang on the wall for a long time; a sonata or a bouillabaisse each last a limited time); also because of the element of performance by cooks, waiters, diners.
Yet many commentators in the previous thread found the comparison distasteful (there we go again). Again, I ask why. And, if musical performance is an inappropriate metaphor for cooking and eating, what metaphors should we be using?