Sweet Travels Part 1: Artful food in Paris

When your done here check out the Tu Diabetes thread Food is Art! Special thanks to Cynthia Rogers sharing and discussing this post on the forum.

Over the past two months, I have been traveling across country from California to Virginia and to several countries including Germany, Poland, and France.  Managing my diabetes throughout this journey has inspired my mini-series of posts called Sweet Travels. starting with Paris.  I will feature a few artful meals Parisian meals that contributed to enjoying my food more and eating less food despite a few carb indulgences.

 Paris is a beautiful city and the presentation of food is no exception.  I am inspired to utilize all my senses and imagination to be more artful in my own kitchen and appreciate each meal.  The following meals are not recipes but are aesthetic observations. Why not admire each of our daily meals as something beautiful?

Course 1: drop-dead-gorgeous veggie pasta with fancy water (no bubbles)

* The pretty woman in the picture is my mother who is a great painter, cook, and Francophile *

Water can be as fancy as wine

I knew that even before the food came out that the meal would be pretty because the water was presented in wine glasses in a bright red bottle. 

This may not be practical at work per say, however, next time I’m at home I may recycle my favorite wine bottle and make my water fancy.  

Color contrast and a bright garnish make the meal

Pasta, even when delicious can be a pretty bland looking affair. I appreciated that contrasting colors of the green bell peppers paired with bright red cherry tomatoes.  The dish was garnished with a very fresh sprig of cilantro, which added a nice crisp detail to top off the pasta. 

While some people may not be into cilantro, even a sprinkling of black pepper or paprika to the edge of a plated meal could add some color contrast. 

 

Course 2: sugar in all its glorious forms and colors

A slab of rock or a tray for dessert

One of the most exciting parts of this meal was that it was presented on a piece of thin black slate that made all the colors of the assorted sweets and powdered sugar pop.  There is also something exciting about eating off of a new material. The slate was cold and had its own texture, which made me savor the experience more.

Something similar could be done with a small wood cutting board to add an unexpected twist to a meal.

Variety can be more exciting than quantity

This tray contained an array of textures and flavors: chocolate mousse on a chocolate wafer, white pistachio fudge, a juicy slice of watermelon, apricot sauce, and a rich fluffy cream puff with a drizzle of caramel.  Had I been given a lava brownie I would have inhaled it, and yet the variety of complimentary sweets not only made for a smaller portion but a very exciting experience.

A mix of berries with some agave and a few slices of baklava would be a fun way to replicate this artful last course. 

 

Course 3: homemade breakfast, or as the French say petit dejeuner

Adopting the principle of variety and contrast

We cooked breakfast at home nearly every day we were in Paris.  By our final days we had adopted some of the customs from dining out including adding variety of texture and color to the meal.  We added color to the eggs with red bell pepper and added alternating pieces of avocado and tomato salad as a side with fresh tart tomatoes, rich cheese, crisp cucumbers, and savory sardines.  We were lucky to have a small store by our place because the fresher the food the brighter the color! 

Variety could quickly be added to an egg breakfast with a small side of almonds and berries, a few slices of cheese, or a savory leftover in the fridge.

*DISCLAIMER* The coffee had not been poured when this photo was taken – black coffee is always part of my breakfast pallet.

A few takeaways from the art of food in Paris.

- Presentation can be super fancy or as simple as using a nicer cup for water.

- Variety of color, even if it is with a small garnish makes a nicer looking meal.

- Simplicity can be as beautiful as a master chef meal.

Although many of the meals I showed were not very low carb, the slower pacing of the meals, smaller quantities of food, and fresh ingredients left me in my personal green zone for my blood sugar during most of the trip. 

For those who like to write or draw, try drawing and taking notes on a meal sometime.  I enjoyed playing the role of food critic when I was out and kept a small notebook with me. 

I noticed that drawing and writing slowed me down when I ate and I got a chance to practice drawing.

Eating is one of the most dynamic everyday activities we do.  It triggers smell, taste, sight, touch, and sometimes sound.  Many people who are beginning to view cooking as a form of fine art that has a place in galleries.  I once had an art teacher who had us critique other students’ work as if it were a three-course meal (it worked surprisingly well).

 

Diabetes can put a damper on food. I hope that I have been able to share a few ways to recognize food as a pleasurable and creative part of each day, all carb counting aside.  Please comment and share any thoughts on the post and some of your own images of food as part of the Food is Art thread!


Translate Diabetes is alive!

Very excited to have DiabetesMine cover the launch of Translate Diabetes!

Check out the full length article

-  Justus Harris Founder of Translate Diabetes

Translate Diabetes is dedicated to sharing the value of art and how it can help those with diabetes. I am inspired to provide a resource to discover and share how art can be used in personal health understanding and empowerment.  Translate Diabetes was inspired from my own discovery that my art could help me better understand my diabetes, which I continue to explore through 3D printed Diabetes Data Sculptures.  I believe there are many ways creativity can contribute to greater understanding of people's experiences with diabetes across disciplines.  I'm excited to share some of the inspiration for my own work in this first post and the work of Toni Gentilli, an artist who is also a former archaeologist living with T1D.

 

Interview with Toni Gentilli

 

I asked Toni for a few words of advice for a young artist, she said; “Don’t let fear get in your way of being an artist, fear of not knowing enough, and fear of what people will think.” Toni herself refrained from identifying herself as an artist for many years because she thought you needed to be an expert in everything about your craft. Through her work, however, and living with diabetes, she realized risk-taking and experimentation are just as valuable to being an artist as technical mastery.

I would also advise people with diabetes to live without fear when possible. It can be overwhelming until you pick a place to start and in a way that makes sense to you.

Check out the inaugural post with more works by Toni Gentilli  featured on DiabetesMine.

Here is a preview of works in development - check out the Art Works page for existing projects. Look forward to the next post this coming week!