Summer Squash:Liquid Sunshine

Squash blossom filled with a quail's egg

Several years ago I put on an event at my gallery  called ” The Neuroscience of Molecular Gastronomy”   It was a collaboration with my daughter, Ariel Garten ,who lectured  about how we perceive taste and art through our senses and the history of molecular gastronomy. Surrounded by “Still life in motion, Portraits of food,” an exhibit of my food still lifes, I created and served a tasting menu to illustrate the points of the lecture. The format of the menu was color.

I played with the techniques and technology of Molecular Gastronomy, such as importing the first Fizzalator to Canada ,[ a carbonating device][ Green, fizzy, minty grapes]  foaming, [A Rose is a Rose not a Rose, rose foam] and went beyond aeration, by serving air itself. [candy bubbles]

Mostly, I played with perception. I watched chefs scribbling down notes, as I explained the premise behind my truffles. Truffles are chocolates meant to look  like truffles, the fungi. I asked, what if the truffles were actually made with mushrooms and contained no sweeteners? I used a very earthy Ecuadorian 100% cocoa chocolate and Shitake mushrooms to create my truffles [Brown]. Because of the popularity of the event, we put it on to five different audiences. In a another play of perception, those audiences, that I told that the truffles were delicious to, were more likely to think they were delicious than to the audiences that I cautioned, may not like them. 

How do you explain our preconceived notions about color and taste? At home, I prepared two pitchers of orange juice, one with 5 drops of red food coloring and one without. Even though, just before drinking, I, myself had added the red food coloring and then of course knew about it, Ariel and I both thought the juice that was a redder orange, tasted sweeter!

On a more complex note, I created a dish that both mimicked my technique of  starting every painting; drawing with charcoal on a blank canvas, and the texture of that technique, along with the emotional feelings that it invokes. That agenda was accomplished through the ingredients, their colors and the order we tasted the individual elements. [There not There: Black and White] 

color menu

On September 9th, I published an entry about squash blossoms, “Summer Squash; Sunshine”. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to emphasize the yellows of the recipe and the sunshine that yellow makes you think of ? It should have a surprise element, the yellow should be liquid and burst out of the blossom!”  “Summer Squash: Liquid Sunshine” was created. 

Fried blossoms with the quail’s egg center bursting forth

Recipe: Prepare the squash blossoms and the batter as per the directions in the recipe of September 9th. For each blossom, crack a quail’s egg into a cup. Hold the blossom open by holding it in one hand or placing in another demitasse cup. Gently pour the raw egg in to the blossom. Twisting closed the top of the flower, coat with batter, holding it by the twisted top. Lower it carefully into a pan of hot oil and saute until the coating is brown. Serve immediately. Hopefully the yolk will still be runny when you cut into the blossom, but even if the yolk is set, it is still delicious. Make a few tests ones to get the correct timing of the dish. You will not mind eating the experiments!

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