Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

The Donut Peach

Friday, August 20th, 2010

No, this post isn’t about any form of fried dough, but a specialty fruit that appear briefly each summer, the Donut Peach. I am considering this a sort of Trompe l’Oeil doughnut for looking at it, there is no doubt the mind immediately goes to the more fattening, unhealthy version. A little research has discovered that with the heightened awareness of heirloom fruits and vegetables, this is not actually a new variety of peach at all, but had been grown in the States as early as the 1800’s. Originally from China, it probably lost its allure because its flesh is not the bright yellow of classic peaches and also perhaps its shape.

Long before it was known as the Donut Peach — undoubtedly because of its flattened shape with the ubiquitous hollow in the center so indicative of those raised and cake varieties we love so much — this odd fruit was known as Chinese flat peaches, Chinese sauces peaches, peento peach, or Galaxy or Saturn peach (because it alludes to a 1950s U.F.O. shape and/or the rings of our sixth planet?) Now more commonly referred to as the Donut Peach, California and Washington are the primary locales for its growth and farming.

As an artist, I am drawn to their two-toned, mottled color – pale yellow splotched with alluring splashes of blushing crimson at once, demure but at second glance, teasing and sultry. Granted, there is not as much flesh so cooking with donut peaches would take a few more if quantity is needed – and they are a bit more expensive. But on the upside, they are lower in acid than the classic peach with a more mild, sweeter taste and some have ascribed almond overtones to them. They are a little easier to eat and the skin tends to be a bit thinner with less fuzz so some who are inclined to peel peaches might enjoy these varieties more. I have also found them much easier to pit; a quick slice through the flesh with a knife and the two halves can be twisted apart with the pit almost falling free, leaving just unctuous bites of decadent fruit easy to consume.

The Donut Chef

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Over a very large and expansive tasting of organic, vegan doughnuts at The Ferry Plaza in San Francisco, I met a delightful young lady named Emi, aged five. She was very helpful in tasting Pepple’s Blueberry doughnut. It was all that much more appropriate for while we were noshing and chatting about the qualities of her doughnut, her father told me that Emi’s favorite book at the moment is called Donut Chef.

So I got myself to the library — as I don’t normally read children’s book — and checkout out this oversized picture book. Written and illustrated by Bob Staake, a graphic designer and illustrator who as well as doing work for everything from The New Yorker to Mad Magazine, writes children’s books of some renown. And I must say that Donut Chef is more than a book for children, this is one that adults will certainly get a huge chuckle from; especially food-obsessed fanatics who have witness the progression of haute cuisine and obscure and bizarre flavor models.

The book tells the story of two rival doughnut makers who continually try and one-up each other with their fantastic concoctions and intricate flavors, but poetically, it is written in heroic couplets of Iambic Tetrameter, with the first and third lines being acephalous, i.e. lacking the syllable of the initial foot, beginning thusly:

Once upon a summer’s day
A donut chef was heard to say:
“On this street where people stop,
I’ll open up my donut shop!”
The store was cozy, made of brick.
He got it ready super-quick!
He washed the walls, he swept the floors,
He hung a sign above the doors!

The story commences quite delightfully, but I do take exception at what might be considered a minor error, but for me is a bit more glaring. To commence his doughnut production, we read the following:

That donut chef, he worked so hard
By mixing flour, sugar, lard.
He baked his donuts fresh at daw,
Then hoped by noon they’d all be gone!

Well, as anyone who has been following this blog knows, doughnuts are FRIED. How would it sound to be the Baked Dough Ho? It just is not the same and while I commend Mr. Staake for his wit and delightful illustrations, there is a tragic misnomer in instructing children to believe that doughnuts are baked. Baked dough are cupcakes or cookies or madeleines or macarons, but they are not doughnuts. It is still a great book though and one I can heartily recommend.

Doughnuts in Religious Iconography

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

I’m sorry – I really wish I could tell you who is responsible for this brilliant piece of Photoshopping. But every now and then in my warm, sweet, glazed idyllic doughnut world, I stumble upon doughnut images that are just too stunning and I want to share them.

There is no doubt that one can have a transcendent experience — dare I say, a religious one? — in the consumption of a perfectly prepared fried dough offering. And to extend that religious experience to one of iconographic import seems the next logical step.

I love that Mary’s frosted, sprinkled doughnut is whole and emitting a radiant light of grace for all the world to share in, yet Baby Jesus’ glazed doughnut, while emitting a lesser glow of radiance, already has a bite taken out of it; his holy host is partially consumed. But there is more; a small sugared doughnut hole is being offered forth in Baby Jesus’ hand. For you, perhaps? I think under duress. Baby Jesus wants that doughnut hole for himself and it is the Virgin Mary who is guiding his hand — almost forcing it! — in a symbolic offering to the brethren.

“Here, little saviour,” chides Mother Mary. “Be a good little god-incarnate and share your bounty!” Or maybe I have it all wrong! Maybe a miracle has just occurred; he calmed a stormy sea, he raised Lazarus from the dead, he changed water into wine, and he changed a rock into a doughnut! Well, probably not. Because if it were true, we know darn well that he would not have bothered changing water into wine, but instead the water would have been changed into coffee or milk to go with the miraculous doughnut…

Doughnuts in Art, Part VI – Jay Mercado

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

Nuts about Donuts!

Originally uploaded by 2composers

Selling some dessert-themed jewelry at The Fillmore Jazz Festival, a guy stopped by and told me the name Jay Mercado, artist.

A San Francisco-based artist, Jay is another artist exploring the world of doughnuts and — it seems — he also teaches classes on doughnut painting. He has blogged about his doughnut paintings, but oddly does not include them on his professional website. Perhaps because he doesn’t consider doughnuts serious art. If you ever see this, Jay, I’ll refer you Emily Eveleth who has made a career in painting hyper-realistic doughnuts.

I particularly enjoy the photo which I found online, with the gallery opening reception providing an ample doughnut reception with the array of artwork on display in the back. I can’t tell exactly when the photograph was taken (all I can see is August 9, but who knows what year!), but at some point I will be tracking down the work of Jay Mercado, perhaps to acquire my own doughnut art.

Happy Fourth of July!

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

No special reviews, no flavor comparisons or analysis, and no historical references. Just a darn pretty looking Stars and Stripes offering to commemorate our nation’s birth.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.