Prosciutto by another plate, does not taste as sweet


The eyes of the artist penetrate the artifice of this world. They look for connections between realities. Tensions that need to be amplified with a flick of color or a unique angle. It is this sensibility which gives Andy Warhol his power.  A single image: a skull on a table; Marilyn Monroe; an electric chair. Images which repeatedly appear with alternating hues. Darks become light. Mossy greens fade to cold gray.

Prosciutto & fig - reversed

Prosciutto & fig – reversed

In isolation, each piece reaches deep into our emotional center. Hung together we see Warhol’s intellect at play. One image and dozens of variations.

Images from the Andy Warhol Museum. Photo courtesy of warhol.org

Images from the Andy Warhol Museum. Photo courtesy of warhol.org

This one haunts us with dramatic light and Macbeth’s red finger prints. This other, the exact same image mocked up with pastels dramatizes the dull pain of Wuthering Heights and Balthus weighty serenity.

Prosciutto and figs from Cotogna

Prosciutto and figs from Cotogna

A few weeks ago, we made an argument for contrast when plating dishes. A careful combination could make something already delicious sparkle like a diamond.

Let’s play with an image captured at Cotogna. As you remember, the culinary tricksters arranged fresh figs and silky prosciutto on a pea green plate. What if they reached for a white plate? Would it carry the same electrical charge?

Prosciutto & fig on white plate

Prosciutto & fig on white plate

Or maybe that beautiful plum color dish. The one which turned papparadelli into a Titian painting?

Prosciutto & fig on a purple plate

Prosciutto & fig on a purple plate

Clearly the color of the white plate loses some of the gunpowder in the portraying the lusciousness of the dish.  However the deep purple does highlight the ham and fruit well. Might it be because the purple is a dark cool color?

Would the dish carry the same effect on a ruby plate? Red on red. Now we are talking about particle stacking. Layering for impact.

Prosciutto & fig on ruby plate

Prosciutto & fig on ruby plate

That out of the way, let’s hopscotch our way through a few ideas. Let’s unbridle the imagination.

How about Paula Deen helping out with her own Southern touch?

Prosciutto & fig on Paul Deen's Whitaker plate

Prosciutto & fig on Paul Deen’s Whitaker plate

Or the artist as big time hunter?

Prosciutto & fig on DII Real Tree Melamine

Prosciutto & fig on DII Real Tree Melamine

Might it be unreasonable to present this appetizer at a birthday party for girls?

Would the mash up with china blue set the right tone?

Prosciutto & fig on  Calamityware

Prosciutto & fig on Calamityware

Clearly color and texture are factors. Since the prosciutto and figs, the principle ingredients are fleshy red. Let’s try a dull, earthy tone. Yes the plate subdues the presentation in this case. This might be a move to take hipster elegance to picnic table diplomacy. The soft feel of brown butcher paper of a crawfish boil.

Prosciutto & fig on brown plate

Prosciutto & fig on brown plate

One step further. A rustic presentation against wood.

Prosciutto & fig on wood decking

Prosciutto & fig on wood decking

Maybe bamboo countertop? No?

Prosciutto & fig on bamboo counter top

Prosciutto & fig on bamboo counter top

Then a dance between shaved meat and Texas limestone.

Prosciutto & fig on limestone

Prosciutto & fig on limestone

Not convinced? Take it one step further. Away from natural fibers and found stone. Let’s serve up proscuitto on forged steel. Angular and cold. Precise in all of it’s fabrication. And reflective of it’s surroundings.

Prosciutto & fig on stainless steel charger

Prosciutto & fig on stainless steel charger

Yep. It’s not the same dish. The clothes make the man.

And now we are back at home base.

Prosciutto and figs from Cotogna

Prosciutto and figs from Cotogna

The point is this: these are all choices. They are knobs to turn.  While you experiment with what’s in the pot, be thinking about how you frame it for your audience. Material, color, contrast, texture are ingredients in the recipe too.

Use them wisely.

And by all means, please share. Show us the miracle plating. Let’s see what’s in your paintbox.

4 comments

  1. John

    As distracted as I am by the Prosciutto I had difficulty noticing the various changes. Could you explain that again? 🙂 Focus can sometimes be a detractor. P.S. Lea would love the Paula Deen plate.

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