The fall months usually find our homes and businesses decorated with ornamentation created by Mother Nature herself in the form of harvested crops and other seasonal vegetation. From trees come leaves, nuts, acorns, pine cones and branches in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. The fields give us corn, gourds, grasses, several squashes, root vegetables, fruits, and of course, the favorite fall crop of all, pumpkins.
We gather our natural treasures and arrange them on our doorsteps or tables and enjoy the sight and scent of them, bringing a bit of the outdoors in. Yet there is another way to display nature’s handiwork while showing a bit of our own, too.
Veggie Carving 1.0
The art of carving vegetables and fruits into edible (or at least bio-degradable) statuary has been around for as long as people have played with their food. Perhaps the most widely known medium for this art-form today is the Halloween pumpkin. Children learn this form of creative expression as soon as they are old enough to reach their hands inside a freshly opened gourd and pull out the slimy innards.
Carved pumpkins have evolved from simple faces made by cutting a few well-placed holes to faces to elaborate carvings that create three dimensional faces or intricately cut silhouettes. Just as many Midwesterners compete to put up the most elaborate Christmas displays, extreme jack o’lanterns have become a source of individual pride as well. However, the carving of produce is not limited to large orange squash.
Veggie Carving 2.0
What was once an almost lost art is making a comeback: the carving of fruits and vegetables to create elaborate centerpieces that are whimsical as well as beautiful.
At last week’s fall festival, a chef from the hospitality management program at the University of Akron (Ohio) exhibited his art while demonstrating his skills. An ordinary watermelon became a stunning pink chrysanthemum tipped in frosty white. Honeydews were transformed into shy swans. Root vegetables became graceful flowers which adorned larger pieces.
Not only were the sculptures lovely to look at, they were also inspirational, sparking a creative urge to take a simple fruit or plain vegetable and whittle it into something special. I would not even begin to compare my skills to that of a professional, but that chef’s artistry did make me try to carve something beyond my typical ‘Charlie Brown’ pumpkin - perhaps a snow white lily from a turnip or a rosebud from a radish? Something small, simple, and that will allow me to keep my digits intact.
We often hear how food nourishes the soul, but usually, that axiom refers to consuming food. These carved foods nourished the soul in a different yet equally effective way by amazing people with their beauty and the skill of the artisans who crafted such things, and maybe, just maybe, even trying a new form of creative expression to feed world-weary souls, mine and others, a spot of brightness and beauty.
What are some of your favorite forms of food artistry? Do you create any yourself? Are you an amateur or an expert? Are you able to enjoy art pieces made of foodstuffs without feeling guilt or shame or worse yet, being shamed by others?
Born and raised in Northeast Ohio with her BA and MA from the University of Akron, Mary has 20 years experience in the corporate sector working for local companies and Fortune 500s in customer service, PR, sales, advertising, and broadcast media. She currently teaches English Composition at Stark State College and UA. Her passion is living and teaching tolerance while pushing for Size Acceptance. She hopes to inform as many everyday Americans that the issue of Size is not an issue at all but merely a distraction from the real issues, such as the decline in public education, our infrastructure, economy and healthcare system. Mary loves irritating people by speaking her mind and presenting them with annoying facts, contrary opinions, and life's little ironies; when not doing that, she loves being with her family.