Thursday, October 07, 2010


I used to make a living as an artist. First, a technical illustrator, then an advertising "imagist" (I joke, people), then an illuminator of children's books, mostly textbooks.
Let's just say I really sucked, and I fired myself after too many years. I still have a few pieces of my own art I like, but in general, I sucked.
I do have a certain design sense I'm proud of, so I thought I'd be OK at plating food.
And yet? I sucked.
I know this, because Cranky is the other food plater in our house. He's really good.
Cranky has a loose, Matisse style when strewing the edibles on the crockery. It's never messy, like a Kandinsky. He makes everything count, and nothing is lost in the strew.
I, on the other hand, tend to arrange morsels as if I were reinventing the sunflower. Everything radiating from the center, and too much concentric. Gah. I cannot loosen up.
I have taught Cranky a hugeload of tasting and cooking strategy. You'd think he'd give me a few lessons on plateology. But no, he remains the genius, the idiot savant, the master. He doesn't want me to learn.
This was the last slice of our cold chicken terrine, served on a plate of eye-pleasingly, opulently, adorably scattered greens and reds and whites.
Cranky did it.
It looks simple, but I would have done it completely dumb.


Zoomie said...

I learn something new about you all the time. Had no idea you had been an illustrator. But I think your food styling is pretty darn good and your photos are interesting, too. Look at this and tell me you suck:


Heather said...

Plating eludes me, too. It's why I opt for dizzying macro shots instead.

Kailyn said...

I don't think it's something that can be taught but is instead learned through practice. In college I worked for a bookstore chain for a couple of years. One of my duties was displays. After some time others asked how I did it. The only thing I was able to share was to step away from it and come back. Did it catch your eye? If not, then redo it. I thought of this because much like plating, one has to think about color and shape.

By the way the vast majority of the time, your food looks pretty. I look at your photos and think that I need to practice my photography more. Or get a better camera.

Ms Brown Mouse said...

I'm emailing that picture to my mum :)

Hungry Dog said...

It does look very nice. I'm no good at plating either, everything looks symmetrical and matchy-matchy. It's an art.

cookiecrumb said...

Zoomie: You flatter me. I will tell you more stories. Some true.
(I did love that sandwich photo; the lighting!)

Heather: Pinkie shake!

Kailyn: With food, though, you're seldom stepping away and making a judgment. You just wanna eat. My first instincts are nonlovely; Cranky's seem to be adorable.
Thanks, though! Sweet.

Mouse: Ooh! Ooh! Tell me what she says. This Interwebz thing, it is truly astounding.

Dog: Exactly! We are trying too hard? We are illiterate? Ilplaterate?

Chilebrown said...

I love it! Call it a Matisse or Kandinsky. I call it a mees. A pretty mess.

cookiecrumb said...

Chilebrown: That guy's The Boss.

Greg said...

Nothing wrong with sunflower styling. Cranky does a mean plate up.Eat,enjoy!

J-in-Wales said...

After years of angst about serving up an attractive dish, I now refuse to do plating full stop.
If people wanna eat in my house, they have to serve themselves!

cookiecrumb said...

J-in-Wales: That's fabulous! What a solution. Of course, here I am snapping pictures of everything for the blog, and sometimes, well... I play tricks. :)

Ms Brown Mouse said...

She said yum! Also, she made it in a taller thingy!

cookiecrumb said...

Mouse: Yay. Yay. Of course, a taller, narrower pot would make a terrinier terrine. This looks flaccid, yome sane? Too short.
Luv to your mum.