Taking the Pulse: Perfection

Wednesday’s The New York Times offered a few takes on one topic: the appearance of our food.

First, this fascinating piece on food photographer Laura Letinsky details her subversion of glistening food perfection. I’m particularly interested in her propensity to photograph a meal’s aftermath, leftovers included.

I was even more interested in this quote from the editor-in-chief of Food & Wine:

“In many ways our eyes have been adjusted, and we see imperfections as a beautiful thing, like with an heirloom tomato,” Ms. Cowin said.

Then again, for that minority of Americans (and magazine editors) willing to accept the beauty of imperfections, there are many more who aren’t. At the end of the piece, we hear from two editors whose magazines aren’t ready to accept the beauty of the imperfect.

And then, in the Dining section, the fabulous Melissa Clark laments the impact of foodie perfectionism. She has plenty of insight on rescuing dishes gone awry, including this bite of wisdom: “If the dish looks funny but tastes fine, the solution is easy: rename it.” Burned carrots become blackened. Forsaken green beans become “melting, garlicky green beans.”

Further on, Clark takes on more severe salvage operations for overcooked or overseasoned foods (which also work as ways to use up leftovers). There’s talk of fritattas, souffles and trifles. Throughout, Clark voices that often-ignored, but beautiful sensibility: practicality.

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