". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Cornered Tableware -- Food As Fashion Accessory

Since when did all our plates and so on in a restaurant become angles instead of curves?  It used to be this was only in Japanese restaurants (perhaps why Japanese remains my least favorite Asian cuisine?) *  The trend has been going on for years already, reaching back at least into the last century, at least in New York City.  But it's now ubiquitous, everywhere. It's even showing up on the tables of the homes of our friends -- though they still provide real food that's delicious to eat on these square and rectangular plates.

Reminds one that in ye olden days foods shaped like or to suggest phallus and testes were very popular, particularly during holidays
Presumably angular rather than round plates and supporting table ware provide a more convenient surface to present food as abstract portraiture delightful to look at ** instead of as food to eat with gustatory pleasure?

Was it like that with a medieval and Renaissance era entremet, subtlety a/k/a soteltie or sotelty and so on -- more for entertainment value than for eating satisfaction?  (They did have endless courses at those banquets and feasts.)

For that matter, the custom among the Roman Empire's wealthy, for the sake of presentation prestige, to sculpt food into something other than food, or into a food that it was not, was common too. They seem to particularly been fond of putting one animal, bird, fish, inside another, one after another and presenting this huge cooked platter as a centerpiece of the banquet.  That was popular in the medieval and Renaissance eras too. Of course our classic idea of the Renaissance is Italy, the Roman Empire's legacy.


*  Even the worst restaurant in the world charging extortionate New York City prices, Vicksburg's Lillian's Authentic Italian Cuisine, presented its inedible extrusions on square plates!  Yes, I am still fuming about that restaurant.  Must. Let. It. Go.

**  In truth it's faux imitation of bad art and not delightful to look at, unless is it in a Vietnamese restaurant.  The Vietnamese have been presenting food in artful, lovely ways for so long it's culturally organic. That this so is part of the reason  Vietnamese - Thai are my favorite Asian cuisines.

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