art rat cafe

words, images and food for thought


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artratcafe CAFE – Playing With Your Food #4 – Christel Assante – eggs plus…

Owl Egg. C. Assante

Staying with the theme of eggs, Playing With Your Food #4 looks at the delicate egg sculptures of French artist Christel Assante.

Assante creates custom designs for buyers, working in mostly quail and goose eggs. Each egg takes her about 3 to 4 days to sculpt. The eggs are lit from a small bulb placed inside through a hole in the bottom.

Assante Egg

In an interview with http://artsdelles.com  Assante talks about her approach to her art: Tell us more about you, how did you start to work on egg shells ? Have you an artistic education ? 
This question is always the most difficult for me, indeed, I don’t know at all what pushes people to adopt this so special technique. It happens often without knowing why. I actually likes drawing on this so symbolic shape, on this so pleasant material because very porous which allow numerous different techniques … The egg shape allows to present scenes which evolve as you turn around it. I like this idea … 
I have always drawn a lot, but, I have a scientific education, not artistic.

Egg CA Detail287

At the interview Assante is asked about preferences in her media:
I always use true eggshells, because I like the material and the magic of the result sometimes so fragile, that’s the most interesting for me. I carve from the ostrich egg shell (the biggest) to emu egg shell, and also nandu, goose, pheasant, duck and quail egg shell. I do not work at all with chicken eggs !! Why? Good question !!

Egg CA205

My own first question would be about what tools can produce such intricate detail in such a hard and delicate surface. She answers this in the interview (follows);  however, I must say it all sounds too simple for a beginner to undertake – a knife and vinegar?!!!! Has anyone out there had experience at this art form?
It is not necessary to have lot of material to start carving eggs, a knife and some vinegar are sufficient to begin with, then you can buy a mini drill. Those of good quality have good performances and avoid most of vibrations (which remain the true problem). Then, don’t forget to use diamond coated drill for the best result … I always bring my equipment with me when I exhibit to show people … but, the best is to practice, at the beginning, sometimes I spent one week on one egg without being sure of the result !!! But, I am very stubborn and I remade the same model until I succeeded.

Egg CA 288

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Credit and Thanks due to: http://artsdelles.com


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artratcafe CAFE – Eggs…Redux

Because it is spring here in Vancouver, and almost Easter, eggs are on my mind and featured on the Cafe’s menu this week.

Our fancies turn lightly to spring and sensual longing and fertility and well, yes, sex.

The name Easter comes from Eostre or Ostara, the Great Mother Goddess of the Saxon people in Northern Europe. Ostara represented spring fecundity and the love and carnal pleasure that leads along that flower strewn path and in pagan times an annual spring festival was held in her honour. Ostara was a playful goddess whose reign over the earth began when the Sun King journeyed across the sky in his chariot, heralding the end of winter. Ostara appeared as a beautiful young woman carrying a basket of brightly coloured eggs. Her magical companion was a rabbit who accompanied her as she brought new life to dying plants and flowers by hiding her eggs in the fields.

The egg is a symbol of new life. It stands for the renewing power of nature and by extension the attraction between female and male that results in new growth and fertility. This segue shell lead us to the following eggstremely sensual extract from the book: 1933 Was A Bad Year by John Fante:

“Dorothy was at the sideboard, breaking eggs and spilling them into a bowl. Just watching the oval things crack in her white fingers and spill forth with a golden plop created a series of small explosions inside me. My calves shuddered as she scrambled them with a fork and they turned yellow like her hair. She poured a bit of cream into the mixture and the silken smoothness of the descending cream had me reeling. I wanted to say, ‘Dorothy Parrish, I love you’, to take her in my arms, to lift the bowl of scrambled eggs above our heads and pour it over our bodies, to roll on the red tiles with her, smeared with the conquest of eggs, squirming and slithering in the yellow of love”.

Image Credits from top in order:

Easter Eggs inspired by Lichtenstein - artclubblog21.

Ostara by Johannes Gehrts. 1884.

Victorian Woman with Eggs and Smiley Toast from Google Images. Origins unknown.


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artratcafe CAFE – Playing With Your Food #3 – Carl Warner

Chocolate Express

Chocolate Express

Playing With Your Food #3 presents British photographer, Carl Warner. Born in Liverpool England in 1963, Carl now lives in Kent and works from his London based studio near to London Bridge’s colourful food emporium of Borough Market. Having worked as a photographer in the advertising business for 25 years Carl stumbled on the idea of making landscapes out of food just over ten years ago and these ‘Foodscapes’ have now brought him world wide acclaim for his very own unique and individual art form.

Cabbage Sea

Cabbage Sea

This has led not only to many commissions for international clients such as Nestle, Unilever and General Mills, but also to a publishing deal with Abrams books which saw the launch of his first book ‘Carl Warner’s Food Landscapes’ in November 2010. His work has been used in children’s hospitals, childhood obesity clinics, by nutritionists and many other good causes to promote better eating habits in both children and adults.

Cucumber Bridge

Cucumber Bridge

Warner blends photography and art to make highly conceptual visual images – broccoli are miniature trees that can create vast forests of connected treetops – Italian Parmesan cheese wheels are rugged, plunging cliffs – smoked salmon is lapping water at sunset reflecting the blazing colors of the sky. In a sense, he’s just a big kid playing with his food.

Salmon Sea

Salmon Sea

In the picture above, a pea pod boat sails away from a land made of bread and potatoes, over a sea of salmon. Warner is an artist who makes one think about food and interact with food on a different level that captures our fondness for illusions, brain teasers and fairy tales all at once.

Vege Head

Vege Head

Carl Warner’s food  images are photographed in different layers and the images can take up to two or three days to build and photograph and then a couple of days retouching and fine-tuning. Carl shoots his scenes using a Hasselblad H3D39 and retouches them on his Mac in Photoshop.
His main influences are Ansel Adams and films such as The Wizard of Oz and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Bread Village

Bread Village

Warner explains his creative process in the following video:

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Credits and Thanks due to:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk

http://www.bonexpose.com

http://www.youtube.com

Wikipedia


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artratcafe CAFE – Playing With Your Food #2 – Prudence Emma Staite

“Dita von Cheese” by Prudence Emma Staite. Based, of course, on popular burlesque performer Dita von Teese.

“Dita von Cheese” by Prudence Emma Staite. Based on popular burlesque performer Dita von Teese.

The second in artratcafe CAFÉ’s new series Playing With Your Food presents Prudence Emma Staite from Gloucestershire, England. Prudence is a contemporary artist who works almost entirely in chocolate, although as you see above she also works in other edible mediums.  Prudence wants people to experience her art with all of their senses. She creates jewelry, paintings, sculpture, games and even entire rooms from chocolate –but the sweet stuff isn’t her only favorite medium -  She also made sculptures of the Colosseum, Spanish Steps and Pope Benedict XVI using enough pizza dough to make 500 pizzas for an exhibit at the Museum of London.

prudence-emma-staite-pizza (2)

brilliant-food-sculpturesRelax in a this chaise lounge made of chocolate by Prudence Emma Staite.

Munro food artPrudence has also recreated famous art works using Smarties. This is a recreation of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Munroe.

smarties-renoir_1248687iAnd this is her Smarties recreation of Seurat’s Bathers at Asnieres.

Prudence-Emma-Staite1Prudence also used Smarties as her medium in this recreation of Banksy’s Clean Streets Maid graffiti.

bikesculptureAgain, using chocolate, Prudence expresses her understanding of bicycle technology in this chocolate sculpture.

This is sweet and certainly food for thought. It reminds us that anything can be used as a medium for expression. Prudence’s use of everyday edibles to express her creativity is inspiring and opens us up to outside-the-chocolate box thinking. What will you do with all of those left over goodies from Christmas?

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Credits and Thanks due to: Wikipedia / Google Images / images.inquisitr.com / chinadaily.com.cn/Agencies / V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, east London / http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/


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artratcafe CAFE – Playing With Your Food #1- Arcimboldo

Whimsical Portrait by Arcimboldi

Whimsical Portrait by Arcimboldo

Today artratcafe CAFÉ begins a new  series – Playing With Your Food. This series will feature historical and contemporary artists who use food in their art – both real and illusionary.

Self Portrait by Arcimboldo

Self Portrait by Arcimboldo

 

 

 

 

 

This week the featured artist is the Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1527 – 1593). Arcimboldo was an Italian painter famous for creating imaginative portrait heads made entirely of  fruits, vegetables, flowers and fish. His conventional work, on traditional religious subjects, has fallen into oblivion, but his portraits of human heads made up of organic objects, were greatly admired by his contemporaries and remain a source of fascination today.

In 1573 Arcimboldo created a series of heads based on the four seasons. All are oil on canvas and can be seen in The Louvre, Paris, France.

Spring

Spring

Arcimboldo was perhaps the first artist to use food to create an image, though his work was in paint, not made of actual food. From a distance, his portraits look like normal human portraits. However, individual objects in each portrait were actually overlapped together to make various anatomical shapes of a human. They were carefully constructed by his imagination.

Art critics debate whether Arcimboldo’s paintings were simply whimsical or the product of a deranged mind.  A majority of scholars hold to the view, however, that given the Renaissance fascination with riddles, puzzles, and the bizarre, Arcimboldo, far from being mentally imbalanced, catered to the taste of his times.

Summer

Summer

Autumn

Autumn

Winter

Winter

Vertumnus

Vertumnus

Vertumnus – 1591 (oil on wood. exhibited at Skoklosters Slott. Balsta, Sweden) was particularly appreciated by everyone, especially by the Emperor Rudolph 11. It is a head-and-shoulder portrait of the Emperor, showing him in the form of Vertumnus, the ancient Roman god of vegetation and transformation.

The job of a renaissance court portraitist was to produce likenesses of his sovereigns to display at the palace and give to foreign dignitaries or prospective brides. It went without saying the portraits should be flattering. Yet Giuseppe Arcimboldo painted his royal patron, the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, as a heap of fruits and vegetables. With pea pod eyelids and a gourd for a forehead, he looks less like a king than a crudité platter.

The Admiral

The Admiral

Lucky for Arcimboldo, Rudolf had a sense of humor. And he had probably grown accustomed to the artist’s visual wit. Arcimboldo served the Hapsburg family for more than 25 years, creating oddball “composite heads” made of sea creatures, flowers, dinner roasts and other materials.

Arcimboldo’s work had a surreal quality long before the advent of the Surrealist Art movement, and his ‘food portraits’ no doubt inspired many of the other artists who will be featured in this series.

 

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Credits and Thanks due to: Wikipedia / Google Images / http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture http://webecoist.momtastic.com/


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artratcafe CAFE – Pumpkin Time…

As the rain and clouds of autumn hide the sun from us here in Vancouver I am thankful for the appearance of the pumpkin, nature’s substitute for glorious summer sunsets. This glowing orange orb warms us under the grey and overcast skies of the season. At artratcafe CAFE we are, of course, familiar with the wide variety of foods that can be derived from the pumpkin, and because the temperatures are dropping to chilly we are offering the warm hug of comforting Pumpkin Soup to our visiting friends and we include the recipe in this post.

But also, because we are so closely associated with Mr Art Rat, we are interested in the artistic side of food, and when it comes to pumpkins this interest must involve the Halloween related carving of this seasonal fruit (vegetable?). In honour of this tradition we have put together an exhibition of some of our favorite pumpkin sculptures, along with some paintings of and on pumpkins and other miscellaneous pumpkin related art including pumpkin / Halloween poetry. (All due credits at end of post).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theme in Yellow by Carl Sandburg.

I spot the hills
With yellow balls in autumn.
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
On the last of October
When dusk is fallen
Children join hands
And circle round me
Singing ghost songs
And love to the harvest moon;
I am a jack-o’-lantern
With terrible teeth
And the children know
I am fooling.

The Witches Song from Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and bling-worms sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

On a dark, dark, night
In a dark, dark wood
In a dark, dark house
In a dark, dark room
In a dark, dark cupboard
On a dark, dark shelf
In a dark, dark box
There was a GHOST!

 

 

 

Superstitious by Shel Silverstein.

If you are superstitious you’ll never step on cracks.
When you see a ladder you will never walk beneath it.
And if you ever spill some salt you’ll thrown some ‘cross your back,
And carry’ round a rabbit’s foot just in case you need it.
You’ll pick up any pin that you find lying on the ground,
And never, never, ever throw your hat upon the bed,
Or open an umbrella when you are in the house.
You’ll bite your tongue each time you say
A thing you shouldn’t have said.
You’ll hold your breath and cross your fingers
Walkin’ by a graveyard,
And number thirteen’s never gonna do you any good.
Black cats will all look vicious, if you’re superstitious,
But I’m not superstitious (knock on wood).

Pumpkin Soup – Ingredients:

  • Small pumpkin (remove the seeds and stringy bits, cut into large chunks, peel). You can sub for 2 med size acorn squash if you don’t have pumpkin.
  • 2 sweet onions, chopped
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tbsp organic coconut oil
  • 4 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2-3 cups hemp or almond milk (this makes it creamy)
  • 4-6 cups stock or filtered water
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Method:  Preheat oven to 365F. Place pumpkin chunks, onions and sweet potato into a large baking dish with 1/4 water in dish.

Bake until fork-tender, about 45-60 minutes. Remove them from the oven and set them aside to cool.

Once cooled, place all the roasted ingredients into your food processor and the raw garlic. You may need to do this in batches depending how large your processor is.

Add in some hemp milk or filtered water to help blend. Once blended, move the mixture to a large pot on your stove. Add the remaining hemp milk, water and spices. Allow the soup to simmer for 15 minutes or so, stirring occasionally on low to medium heat.

Sprinkle some raw sheep’s milk cheese and arugula on top. The natural sweetness of the nutmeg is warming and lovely. If you let it sit overnight in the fridge the flavours will mingle and be even more smashingly delicious the next day. Serves 6-8.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Credits - from first to last – Pumpkin painting by Ulrike ‘Ricky’ Martinebsqart.com / Next three pumpkin carvings by Ray Villafaneama-zing-arts.blogspot.ca / Scary Halloween Pumpkin, artist unknown-librariansquest.blogspot.ca / Witch Face Carving, artist unknown – worthstar.com / Tribal Face by Mina Bragaplumk-artwiththepumkins.buzznet.com / Old Postcard from Google Images / Pumpkin Soup from Google Images / Pumpkin painting by unknown first grade student – mrstsfirstgradeclass-jill.blogspot.com / Painting on Pumpkin by Susan Dupontblogs.windsorstar.com / Quasimodo carving, artist unknown – thechive.com / Spider carving, artist unknown – thevine.com.au / Old postcard from Google Images.

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Q: What do you get if you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter? A: Pumpkin pi.


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artratcafe CAFE – Berry Picking Memories 3 – Goosegogs…

This is my third and final post of childhood memories, picking berries in England.  Today I remember Goosegogs:  (All due credits at end of post)

During my childhood summer holidays I always spent two weeks with my mum’s parents, Nan and Granddad. I was very close to my maternal grandparents who eventually came to live with us in the seaside town of Weston-Super-Mare in Somerset.

My grandparents lived in a humble, dark and mouldering Victorian row house in Bristol. My Nan was a superb cook and Granddad was a prize-winning gardener. They had a small back garden packed with flowers and vegetables but this wasn’t enough space for Granddad, so he also cultivated an allotment, (a rented garden in a shared acreage).

My great joy was to go with him to his allotment and spend blissful hours digging, picking fruit and exploring the wild lane ways that surrounded the garden like a maze. I still remember the hot, dusty, fertilizer and tobacco smells of his tool shed, the sensual, smooth feel of new potatoes against my fingers deep in the warm earth and the sun filled songs of blackbirds and robins. But mostly I remember the taste of gooseberries.

Goosegogs we children called them and we knew instinctively when they were ripe and raided everyone’s garden because everyone had at least one gooseberry bush. They grow well in England’s damp climate and have been enthusiastically cultivated and eaten there since the 15th century. My Granddad was no exception and grew enough to supply both of our households. Nan and my mum used them in jam, tarts and other deserts, my favorite being Gooseberry Fool. This creamy desert may be only appreciated by gooseberry loving Brits, however; I recommend that all of you try it at least once.

Here is a classic recipe for it taken from the world famous food writer, Nigel Slater’s column in the British paper, The Observer:

Nigel Slater’s Gooseberry Fool. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin. Smooth, timeless and soothing, the Fool is simply crushed fruit folded into whipped cream – perfect for summer. That said, I like my fools to have a slightly rough texture, with crushed, cooked fruit in among the cream. This is easy to do if you crush the cooked berries with a fork rather than sieving them. The seeds add important contrast to the general creaminess.

The Recipe:  Serves 6
450g sharp cooking gooseberries
3-4 heaped tbsp sugar
300ml double cream

Top and tail 450g of sharp cooking gooseberries. Tip them in a pan with 3 or 4-heaped tbsp of sugar and one or two of water, then bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes until the fruit has burst. Cool then chill. Crush with a fork. Whip 300ml double cream till thick, but stop before it will stand in peaks. It should sit in soft folds.

The Trick:  Use sharp cooking gooseberries, not the sweeter, fat dessert varieties. Other than that, it is all in the whipping of the cream. Put the bowl in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes before you pour the cream in. Whip slowly, with a hand whisk. Stop once the cream starts to feel heavy on the whisk and will lie in soft, undulating folds. Fold in the fruit only when it is cool. It will curdle if still warm. Don’t leave it uncovered in the fridge for long; otherwise it will absorb all the other flavours in there. Parmesan fool, anyone?

The Twist: Elderflower, in the form of flower heads simmered with the gooseberries or a drop of cordial stirred in with the cream, is a classic. Red gooseberries will produce a sweeter, slightly murky-coloured fool. The best twist is to ripple a spoonful of lightly crushed, cooked berries through the finished fool to give a ripple effect, adding texture and interest.

Gooseberries have a unique flavour of their own beyond compare. Many discerning writers have paid them compliments, but the words of little Marjorie Fleming, “Pet Marjorie,” the youthful prodigy of Sir Walter Scott, are most memorable. Wrote Marjorie in her quaint and charming diary shortly before her death at age seven: “I am going to turn over a new life and am going to be a very good girl and be obedient…here there is plenty of gooseberries which makes my teeth water.”

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Credits - Special thanks to: – poetryoffood.com for gooseberry information and the whole last paragraph.  Nigel Slater and The Observer for the recipe, and Google Images for the illustrations.


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artratcafe CAFE – Berry Picking Memories 2 – Blackberries…

This is my second post of childhood memories, picking berries in England.  Today I remember the wild blackberry: (All due credits at end of post)

When I was a child my dad was on the road all week, so during late summer holiday weekdays mum and I would often take our bikes into the nearby countryside to pick wild blackberries.

I can still see mum, headscarf and skirt flapping in the warm breeze, with her berry bag over her shoulder and singing as we peddled our heavy old bikes through the green Somerset lanes.

Blackberries were everywhere and so were pickers, so we often had to search awhile away from town to find unpicked bushes, but when we did it didn’t take long to fill our bags, even though we also filled our dyed mouths with the mellifluous, ripe fruit. Then covered in sunburn, scratches and blackberry juice we cycled home, sore and weary, but triumphant.

The weight of our berry bags and our tired legs occasionally resulted in spills, as in one afternoon, both unbalanced and a little dizzy from a glass of cider at the village pub, I cycled too close to mum’s bike and we both went over in a tangled mess of squashed and spilled berries and flailing limbs. Sitting askew on the roadside after the initial shock, we looked at each other and at our new but innocuous wounds and burst into juicy laughter that rose up through the branches of ancient oaks and dispersed amongst the patches of blue sky above us.

The berries from these outings ended up in blackberry pies eaten with clotted cream at weekends, when dad was home, and in homemade jam that lasted us for many months– the jars and fruit radiating summer sun during the bleak, damp, grey days of our English winter.

August by Mary Oliver

When the blackberries hang
swollen in the woods, in the brambles
nobody owns, I spend

all day among the high
branches, reaching
my ripped arms, thinking                                                                                                  of nothing, cramming
the black honey of summer
into my mouth; all day my body                                                                              accepts what it is.  In the dark
creeks that run by there is
this thick paw of my life darting among                                                                        the black bells, the leaves; there is
this happy tongue.

Image Credits: All from Google Images. Final image: Blackberries in Basket painting by August Laux.

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artratcafe CAFE – Berry Picking Memories 1- Wild Strawberries…

At the CAFE we are taking lots of breaks this summer to pick berries for your scrumptious deserts. As I reach into the bushes I think fondly of childhood experiences in England picking berries.  Today I remember wild strawberries: (All due credits at end of post)

On Sundays we filled my dad’s ancient, wood sided ‘shooting brake’ with baskets and headed up into the Mendip hills of Somerset hunting for the sweetest fruit I’ve ever tasted, the heavenly wild strawberry. Bent double and prickly with heat and gorse thorns we scanned the limestone outcrops of rocks and grasslands for this delicacy. The folklore said that if we ate the first wild strawberries that we found we would soon after find the Big Patch – this usually (and magically to me as a child) proved to be true.

The berries were so small and delicate one needed to pick them with gentle sensitivity, like sewing, while constantly on the lookout for the feared Adder, Britain’s only poisonous snake. Oh, those berries were so delicious that not many made it into the basket. If we picked enough for afternoon tea with Devonshire cream the outing was considered a success.

The hot high sky, the intense sweet fragrance of the berries, the smell of sun- dried grasses, the cries of the Peregrine Falcon through the clear air and the taste of wild strawberries on my stained lips have remained with me ‘til this day. In 1600 William Butler wrote, “Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God ever did.”

The berries work well in cooking, although it can be difficult to gather enough of these diminutive berries to use for most recipes. If you do manage to fill your basket, take care with your wild strawberries, as they bruise easily and must be cooked quickly, before they turn to mush.

The wild strawberry has many uses, some of which date back hundreds of years. The leaves and roots have medicinal properties, and have long been used as an astringent. Strawberry juice is a folk remedy for blotchy skin, and strawberry leaf tea is a good source of vitamin C. The ancient Romans were staunch believers in the curative powers of the strawberry. They believed it relieved melancholy and masked bad breath. According to the ancients, strawberries could cure inflammations, fevers, throat infections, kidney stones, gout, fainting spells, and diseases of the blood, liver, and spleen.

Because of their bright red colors and heart shapes, strawberries were the ancient symbol for Venus, the Goddess of Love.

During medieval times, strawberries symbolized righteousness and perfection. Stonemasons applied their carved strawberry signs onto altars and at the tops of pillars in churches and cathedrals.

Strawberries just happen to be in season during the world-famous Wimbledon Tennis Matches, a time when tennis fanciers nibble on the berries as a snack while viewing the games. If you were British, you might easily think of the event as Wimbledon Strawberry season.

The United States honored the strawberry with a 33-cent stamp first issued on April 10, 1999. The stamp featured a cluster of bright red strawberries peeking out from their brilliant green leaves.

In Eastern Europe, strawberries are paired with sour cream, while in France and Italy, strawberries are topped with wine and sugar.

Ever consider bathing in the juice of fresh strawberries? Twenty-two pounds of crushed strawberries made up the bathwater that went into the tub when Madame Talien, one of the court figures of Emperor Napoleon, took her bath.

Our wild strawberries were so special just as they were that we ate them raw, usually with cream but never cooked. Other raw eating ideas are: Coarsely mash them into a sauce, maintaining lots of their texture, and pour the sauce over a fruit salad. Sweeten if desired / Slice them into a tossed green salad for a touch of spring colour / Serve them as dessert in combination with blackberries. Create a sauce by mashing a few of the strawberries to pour over the top / Combine them with soaked grains and nuts for a hearty breakfast / Create a unique salad dressing with strawberries. Whirl them in the blender with oil, balsamic vinegar, and seasonings to taste / Make a strawberry smoothie with strawberries, bananas, a splash of lime juice, and a little sweetening / Make a savory strawberry sauce by adding crushed garlic and minced jalapeno to mashed strawberries.

“Are wild strawberries really wild? Will they scratch an adult, will they snap at a child? Should you pet them, or let them run free where they roam? Could they ever relax in a steam-heated home? Can they be trained to not growl at the guests? Will a litterbox work or would they make a mess? Can we make them a Cowberry, herding the cows, or maybe a Muleberry pulling the plows, or maybe a Huntberry chasing the grouse, or maybe a Watchberry guarding the house, and though they may curl up at your feet oh so sweetly can you ever feel that you trust them completely? Or should we make a pet out of something less scary, like the Domestic Prune or the Imported Cherry, Anyhow, you’ve been warned and I will not be blamed if your Wild Strawberries cannot be tamed.”Shel SilversteinWhere the Sidewalk Ends

CREDITS:  I am very grateful to vegparadise.com for much of the above post and thank you to Shel Silverstein for use of his poem.
IMAGE CREDITS: Photos of Mendip hills, wild strawberries in grass and strawberries and cream from Google Images. / Oil Painting of girl eating wild strawberries by Marta Lipowska, 2011. / Wild Strawberry print – Google Images. / Strawberry postage stamp from vegparadise.com / wild strawberries and cream from NAMINAMI. / hand and strawberry photo, “Time for Wild Strawberries” by webdefender.

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artratcafe CAFE – Potatoes and Cabbage and Beets, Oh My…

artratcafe CAFE concludes our celebration of the vegetable with potatoes, cabbage and beetroot. In my British childhood my mum always made ‘Bubble and Squeak’ as  a Monday (laundry day) dinner. It used the leftovers from Sunday – spuds, cabbage and sometimes beets – whatever we hadn’t eaten from Sunday dinner – (Recipe at very end if you make it that far).  This post is again inspired by poets and writers, including: Leonard E. Nathan, Charles Dickens, Alexandra Paul, Carl Sandburg, Charles Simic and Tom Robbins; and also by visual artists who are given due credit at the bottom.

The Potato Eaters. Poem by Leonard E. Nathan.

Sometimes, the naked taste of potato / reminds me of being poor. / The first bites are gratitude, / the rest, contented boredom.

The little kitchen still flickers / like a candle-lit room in a folktale. / Never again was my father so angry, / my mother so still as she set the table, / or I so much at home.

“Papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism, are all very good words for the lips”.   Charles Dickens.

“Meat is an inefficient way to eat. An acre of land can yield 20,000 pounds of potatoes, but that same acre would only graze enough cows to get 165 pounds of meat”.
Alexandra Paul.

Nocturne Cabbage by Carl Sandburg:

Cabbages catch at the moon.
It is late summer, no rain, the pack of the soil
cracks open, it is a hard summer.
In the night the cabbages catch at the moon, the
leaves drip silver, the rows of cabbages are
series of little silver waterfalls in the moon.

Cabbage by Charles Simic:

She was about to chop the head
In half,
But I made her reconsider
By telling her:
“Cabbage symbolizes mysterious love.”

Or so said one Charles Fourier,
Who said many other strange and wonderful things,
So that people called him mad behind his back,

Whereupon I kissed the back of her neck,
Ever so gently,

Whereupon she cut the cabbage in two
With a single stroke of her knife.

From Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins:

“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.

Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.  The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip…  The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.  The beet was Rasputin’s favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.”

“Nothing like a nice beetroot sandwich and a cuppa”  My Dad.

 

Artist Credits from top to bottom:

Potato Art by Giorgina Choueiri – themoderngardener.wordpress.com / The Potato Eaters. 1885. by Vincent Van Gogh. – Van Gogh Museum. Amsterdam. / A Child Peeling Potatoes by Evert Pieters – commons.wikimedia.org / Cabbage Leaf. 1931. by Edward Weston. Silver gelatin photograph – oregonstate.edu / Bowler Cabbage – society6.com / Beetroot Print by Blaxill – blaxill.com / Beet Print by Ian Carr – ian-carr.com / Beet Sandwich – thepoorhouse.org.uk

Phew! If you’ve made it this far you are a dedicated reader and are justly rewarded by this classic British BUBBLE AND SQUEAK RECIPE (named after the sound it makes while cooking). There is actually no specific recipe – it is simply a way of creatively using up whatever you have left from dinner. The major components are usually mashed potatoes (the glue holding all the other vegetables together) and cabbage.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped
  • Leftover mashed potato
  • Any leftover vegetables, cabbage, swede, carrots, peas, Brussels Sprouts, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

  • In a large frying pan melt the butter, add the chopped onion and fry gently for 3 mins or until soft.
  • Turn the heat up slightly and add the mashed potato and vegetables. Fry for 10 mins turning over in the melted butter two or three times ensuring the potato and vegetables are thoroughly reheated plus you are aiming to brown the outside edges but not to burn the bubble and squeak.
  • Press the potato mixture on to the base of the pan with a spatula and leave to cook for 1 min. Flip over and repeat.
  • Serve.

An alternative is to mix the potato and vegetables and form into small patties then fry as above.

Bubble and squeak makes a lovely lunch with a fried egg on top.

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