Shades Of Taste

Text and photography by Elodie Bellegarde

I find beauty in food. Its visual and sensorial forms trigger in me something beyond the necessity of eating. It is such that the more I look at food photographs, the hungrier my eyes get. It’s a form of outlet, the same way art or a good movie is to others.

Like with Fine Arts and cinematography, the depiction of food has evolved over the years, partly thanks to technologies, culture and trends. We’ve gone from plain and lifeless food to glossy and decadent magazine spreads designed to make you desire what is featured in front of you. Charlie Chaplin’s portrayal of a plate of spaghetti in his brilliant 1925’s The Gold Rush wouldn’t have qualified for the “food porn” label had the idiom existed at the time. Put aside the actor’s message, the simple fact that the food didn’t benefit from Technicolour made it lack that somewhat wow effect. We’ve evolved from that.

Naturally black and white food are a different matter. Their numerous shades of grey and the way they attract and play with the light are subtly touching. They convey simplicity and minimalism but also sophistication and chic if requested. A bold and unfussy bowlful of plain white rice is one of the most basic foods on earth. If you add a few slices of white radish, some cheese or tofu, black olives, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and finish it with some ground black pepper you’ve suddenly elevated it to something less ordinary. The beauty of a dish so visually simplistic lies in the many flavours and textures that it holds. The same goes when a tart and juicy blackberry is delicately dusted with a snowy cushion of icing sugar. The balance of contrasts isn’t just palatable but also visual.

They say that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Just as the way Fine Arts plays with our emotions and sense of aesthetic with their many genres, a photograph of food can have the same effect on the viewer and diner. The simplest and most natural things are often the most beautiful, with or without colours.

From The U Press N˚6 (Singapore edition).