Thursday, July 19, 2012

Your Eye-ppetite

As I edited the photo of my peanut butter brownie sandwiches, I played around with hue saturation. It's a lovely tool I discovered while photo editing in college. Move one little tab and the color scheme of the entire image changes from "normal" to pop-art. My housemate stared in disbelief, "it looks so gross in other colors" he observed, "only peanut butter can have that texture and be appetizing." It's true. Not only that, but the honey spilling onto the plate turned into a ghoulish drool in other colors. The angle, the texture, the shapes...they all play into our visual food vocabulary, or eye-ppetite, and wrong combinations disgust our mental taste buds.

We recognize texture and color and associate them with flavors, how we portray and consume visual food is a science. It makes me wonder, knowing the iffy flavors that are inevitable through experimentation, how many of the visually stunning photos of food that we look at are actually crappy tasting? Well, I've certainly had my share of exquisite yet flavorless birthday cakes.

I visited Perugia in the week I had off from my Florence abroad experience and my friends brought me to a bar that is famous for their tiramisu. When the platter was set in front of me I was surprised. Accustomed to square blocks of painstaking pastry layers, this tiramisu was a blob of freshly whipped cream with shavings of chocolate atop sloppy lady fingers soaked in rum and espresso . It looked decent, but presentation compared negligibly to the rich flavors that engulfed my taste buds. Whenever I see tiramisu in bakeries I wonder if they are all show and no flavor. I haven't found any that compare.

I am a strong believer in the power of presentation, but how we read something as good and know it, relies on two different senses. Although great looking food is not always great and vice versa, perking people's visual cravings is a skill just as finessed as fulfilling those cravings. There's no denying that eye candy is an easy addiction. So, here's to a growing eye-ppetite.

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