Friday, January 1, 2010

Trompe l'Oeil

Happy New Years!

I have two new years resolutions, one of which will affect readers of this blog. First, I hereby resolve to read the news every day. After being told I "live under a rock" enough times I've decided that google news and the new york times will become new staples in my online diet. Second, I will make this blog more personal and less encyclopedic.

Before I get to this posts topic, I wanted to take a second and describe who I am. I'm 18 years old and grew up in South Florida. I'm a freshman at Cornell University studying food science. I've been interested in cooking and baking for years. As far as work experience, I spent the last summer (June - August of 2009) working as a prep cook at Michael's Genuine Food and Drink in Miami, FL. Over Thanksgiving break this year, I did a four day staige at Jean-George in NYC, working in the pastry kitchen. I love to cook because it is a way to feed and comfort people, learn, create, and inspire.

Alright, enough about me. On to some freaky shit involving caramel consommé.

Trompe l'Oeil is french for "trick the eye" and is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create optical illusions.

Paintings often use trompe l'oeil to depict objects that appear to be in three-dimensions. Below is an example of this, Escaping Criticism by Pere Borrell del Caso, 1874.

Restaurants have begun using trompe l'oeil to trick diners, often confusing visual and gustatory cues. For example, a side dish of rice and beans could be served in a way such that the "rice" is actually made of beans, and the "beans" are made from rice.

I explained trompe l'oeil to a friend recently and he remarked, "I don't see any reason why I would enjoy that." I agree that out of context the whole concept may sound strange and unnecessary. It's really just about being creative, enjoying great food, and having a laugh while doing so.

Below are several clever examples of this technique.

From Michel Richard's restaurant Citronelle, lemon custard and pound cake under the guise of egg and toast.

From the restaurant IchiMonji in Japan, this bowl of udon is actually a caramel consommé with white chocolate noodles and chocolate garnishes.

From Elisa Strauss's bakery Confetti Cakes, a sushi cake.

Michel Richard's tin of caviar is really a risotto made from couscous and lobster.

I hope everyone had a fantastic new years, best wishes for 2010.

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