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Robert Schonfeld

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Posts posted by Robert Schonfeld

  1. Just about any recipe can be converted to sourdough by substituting the amount of flour and water in an appropriate amount of starter (20 - 40% of the total weight of the dough, depending on temperature and some other factors) for those same amounts in the non-sourdough recipe.

  2. What happens when the Gates get taken down?  Are they like the meal that's been eaten?  Once down, do individual Gates hanging on walls count as art, or are only the drawings art at that point?  If so, are the individual deconstructed gates merely souvenirs?  I'm thinking of the scene in Blowup when someone is walking by a club where the Yardbirds (Beck, Page, Relf & McCarty) are playing and the neck of an intentionally destroyed guitar gets tossed to the frenzied crowd.  Then the finder examines it and tosses it aside as I recall. 

    There is certainly such a thing as transitory art, which would allow the meal and its participants into the aesthetic matrix Wilfrid and I are going to build one day. Not today, though, as he said.

    The individual gates, however, like the neck of Beck's guitar, are souvenirs, unless the artist specifically proposes some afterlife for them. The drawings remain as works of art.

    Blowup. Talkin' 'bout my generation.

  3. I think if there is an art work in gastronomy it has to be what's on the plate.  However, one could doubtless construct an intricate analysis of the aesthetic experience as an intersection of the cook's intentions and execution, the flavor of the food, and the nature of the diner's physiological and phenomenological responses to the food - Wollheim's analysis of the aesthetic experience of painting is similarly multi-faceted.  But not today (sigh).

    At least we've reached a concensus of a sort that it's not a simple matter.

    I would go so far as to agree that the work consists at least partially of what's on the plate, but I fear that leaving it there does the form no service. We may have to continue this over a long meal, perhaps in a remote Spanish village...

    PS: Wherever else it may lie, I can tell you that when I saw Burton in Hamlet on Broadway, I knew I was watching a work of art. I much regret not having seen Daniel Day Lewis in the role, and would still like to know if it exists on tape.

  4. Hollywood, yours is easy: the art is both the drawings and the gates. It would be more difficult to ask where it is for a piece like Yoko Ono's "Breathe".

    Wilfrid, no, because it's not my field and I'd be speaking off the cuff. If it's your point that it's no more or less difficult to find the work in gastronomy than in drama, then why don't we talk about what it might be in gastronomy? Just guessing here, but could it be that the artwork exists in more than one place in certain disciplines? Could it be that a kind of horizontal integration is required to realize the work?

  5. Perhaps the important disanalogy is that gastronomy cannot in any real sense be curated.

    I'm inclined to stay out of the attempts at definition and more willing to accept some kind of artfulness somewhere in gastronomy. That said, I'm not sure in a knock-down-drag-out that I wouldn't come down closer to craft than art.

    Curation has these fundamental tasks:


    conservation and preservation




    If we define "the work of art" most broadly, then we might be able to curate some aspects of gastronomy. The menu exhibiton - or a better one - is a possible example. If we define it most narrowly - the finished dish, say - then it would be considerably more difficult, but still worth talking about. I won't argue, though, that collecting tastes and smells is possible. That would be something, wouldn't it?

    For me, the question still remains: what is the thing we are talking about? If we can't say what the art (as opposed to craft, for purposes of this discussion) is, then how can it be?

  6. ...the "rests" or "silences" between dishes.  of course, this assumes that one is having multiple dishes in the first place, but if this were the case, then. . . no, i don't think that the "silence" would be the same.  for one thing, cage intended there to be sound during 4'33", but it was ambient sound (the sound of the performer, the sound of turning pages [of the musical notation], the sound of the audience, and so on].  when one is not tasting food, there is no "ambient" taste to speak of.  cage's intention was to show that everything is music, really, since noise is always present.  second, cage was trying to allow for there to be a sort of interactivity between performer and audience, ultimately trying to snuff the line between the two.  i'm not sure that the space between dishes does the same, that it would elevate diners to the role of creator (in fact, i know it doesn't).

    To be clear, I did not suggest that the "silences" in a meal are the same as those experienced while listening to a piece of music. How could they be?

    By the same token, I would support the idea that a meal in a restaurant, which, with certain irrelevant exceptions, always includes more than one course, is a sensory - and a sensual - experience in which the diner is very much a participant who both interacts with the suppliers of the experience and is capable of affecting its progress and outcome. The diner is not, and should not be, passive.

    I've commented before that it is the complete experience of visiting a restaurant that is most important to me (as opposed, say, to those who focus exclusively on the food). In the context of a "fine dining" meal, I have referred to this as "my three hours". The spaces of time between courses are not simply empty, they are full of sensory - and sensual - stimuli, all of which contribute to the completeness of one's visit.


    On a separate subject, if we are going to discuss art in relation to the culinary world, may I ask, what is the work of art? I don't think it's "the food", nor "the cooking", nor the "the meal". I think the closest thing to a work of art in the culinary world is the chef's conception of an original dish. Or is it a design or a work of craft? Was Chanel an artist? Chippendale? Why is it acceptable that a sculptor - take Henry Moore as an example - uses artisans to produce finished works from his maquettes, and not acceptable that Vongerichten, for example, uses skilled labor to reproduce again and again his original work? Or is it? Could it have something to do with the final product and the function it has in our world?

  7. I would take the position that the making of virtually any art has related to it a means, a motive or a need for earning money.

    Ballast Regime, two questions:

    -Can you point us to references for the notion of Rothko's intent to direct the viewers attention away from his work and hence call into question the existence of museums?

    -Could it be that the spaces of time between courses are the "silences" in the music of the meal?

  8. Your phrase was, "It is not dessert". The definition you went on to make included the seven "I's".

    It is the last course in many meals served in many places. In Italy, a dessert is usually called "dolce". Fruit is usually called, unsurprisingly, "frutta".

    In common usage, the phrase most often heard is, "What's for dessert?", not "What's for a dessert"? The answer could be fruit, a sweet, a complex multi-technique-applied creation of the mind and hand, or something else. So while I appreciate your admonishment that the distinction is not a small one, you may rest assured that I am aware of that, as well as many of the other linguistic stick-pokings that stand in for information, education and learning.

  9. Or how about Vermeer? He might have had better technique then  Rembrandt but he didn't paint dramatic paintings, i.e., didn't apply his technique in a way that would make him as well known as Rembrandt.

    As good as the perfect peach is, it is not dessert. Yes you can eat a peach for dessert but when I say dessert, I am defining it as something that is prepared by a dessert/pastry chef. A peach is a peach is a peach and when I go into a fine restaurant, I do not expect to be served a bowl of peachs and a knife. I can do that at home. When I eat out, I want to see technique applied to the appropriate item.

    Out of respect for the angels, but with difficulty, no comment on the first quotation.

    On the second, yes, it is dessert to some. You use the article "I" seven times in explaining why you believe that it is not. Telling.

  10. Thanks for the wonderful report on your meals, liziee. They sound as if they were exceptional. Two questions:

    -The red onion creme fraiche with the Atlantic Salmon Tartar: does the red onion stay with you, or has it been given some treatment as to neutralize its strong residual presence?

    -Did you make your reservations the same way as the less frequent patrons? Were reservations for New Year's Eve handled the same as all other reservations at the restaurant?

  11. If natural juices that were infused with herbs were so great, nobody would have tried to "improve" them with butter etc. would they? This type of issue came up recently on that Sichuan food thread when someone asked if Sichuan cuisine could be as refined as Cantonese? And I believe it was Ruth who said that the oil based Sichuan cooking will always make the cuisine seem coarse and that is why it isn't as elegant and refined as other Chinese cuisines. Same general principal.

    There is no reason that the conception of a butter enrichment, to use the present example, confers inferior status (ie, something "less good") on pan juices. It would be reasonable to direct the conversation towards ideas of refinement and elegance without carrying into it the mistaken preconceived notion that simple and coarse mean the same thing, which they do not.

  12. This difference in strategy is where I think Italian usually falls short when being compared.

    I was just casually browsing this thread when Steve's comment caught my eye.

    It is of course a matter of opinion, not an absolute judgement, whether the use of pan juices compares with the enrichment of butter as being "better" or "less good". Were it possible to discern such a hierarchy among cuisines worldwide, the method for doing so, and the outcome, would merit considerable discussion indeed.

    Sorry to butt in.

  13. I'm in the make-it-by-hand camp. It's been rightly pointed out that pasta rolled by hand is stretched, thus creating a surface texture better suited to retaining sauce, as opposed to machine-made pasta, which is extruded, giving a flat, relatively undifferentiated surface.

  14. But then why say a cook is at best a craftsperson? I believe a cook can be a craftsperson, an artist, both or neither.

    Your semantic point is taken. How's this: A cook can be craftsperson. A cook cannot be an artist. A cook cooks. An artist creates. A cook doesn't create. An artist, though, can "cook".

    If the discussion progresses towards distictions between cook and chef, food and cuisine, one's point of view might - or might not - widen.

  15. Robert, olive bread with mortadella?

    Helena that's an interesting idea. I'm not sure mortadella would be the best salami for sourdough because of its soft texture. However, I once had a (commercial yeast) bread with mortadella, cracked pepper and semolina in Mantua that has stayed in my mind all this time. I've been meaning to try something like it. If I do. I promise to share with you.

  16. Cooking is most emphatically not higher than gardening, nor is the role of chef higher than that of landscape designer or landscape architect, both of whom can be artists. A cook is at best a craftsperson, and that is not a derogation; on the contrary, it can be very high praise.

    Perhaps more to the point, the notion of a hierarchy of arts seems inherently problematic, albeit a compulsion of a certain kind. Is there any usefulness in arguing the superiority of poetry over history painting?

    On the other hand, a hierarchy of the senses might yield a more engaging conversation. Which renders the better sensation, a Callas aria, a Belon oyster sliding down the gullet, or an orgasm brought about your favorite way?

  17. The existence of eGullet's valued food critics and the respect that they engender suggests that those who consult this list want to be told whether or not Jewel Bako is better than any other sushi bar.  Freedom would mean complete indifference to the comments of the cognoscenti. 

    Vivremanger, in the modern, democratic, secular society, particularly one with a relatively successful open market system, freedom also carries equal access to information and the ability to use it or not as is wished. So that while, yes, many readers of egullet want to have the opinions and experience of some of the active writers (ie, they want to be "told" about a restaurant), they do not necessarily want to be "led", nor will they necessarily subscribe to the proffered view. Rather, they want to use the information offered in their own decision-making process. In a political sense, freedom as complete as you suggest skates close to anarchy, and imagine that around the New York restaurant scene!

  18. Jews...should not impose their dietary restrictions on non-Jews

    Or on other, different, groups of Jews. We've been here already.

    Vivremanger has said: "Food preferences become taboos as a group increasingly feels that its distinctive identity is worth preserving and must be maintained against an outside challenge."

    To which I would add that within the greater group - Jews, in this case - smaller groups make decisions along the taboo/preference continuum. The ultrareligious will declare, or reaffirm, certain dietary taboos. The very orthodox, the orthodox, the very conservative, and so on down the line, will decide which of these disallowances are in fact taboo, and which may be submitted to preference. In other words, there are many, many shades of distinctive identity. This all takes place under the tent. Go outside and you will find those who will insist that you are a Jew whether you eat shellfish or not. Outside the tent, you are far more likely to be included rather than excluded. The outside challenge in this case is not to an aspect of Jewishness, but to the whole, regardless of variation in its parts.

  19. Steve, I work on Saturday, I eat in non-Jewish homes, and so on a long list. Are you going to tell me I'm not Jewish? Much more likely that certain societal elements will remind you in unpleasant ways that you *are* Jewish than that you aren't. That is, the likelihood is much greater that you will be defined inclusively by others rather than exclusively. If you choose the latter for yourself, that's something else.

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