French Lunch Disappears—France in Horror

While art, food, and sex have always had a happy rapport, in France hands are raised in horror at the disappearance of lunch as it was once known. But this dismal situation may soon see a more positive trend…

Spare a thought for the dispirited French in whose homeland, we are told, le long lunch has fallen on hard times. Yes, France has now joined the rest of the western world where business principles dictate that everyone is too busy to eat lunch. What used to be de rigueur in the capital city of gastronomy—foie gras, grilled soles, boeuf en croute—where no one but a waiter could stand between a man, his lunch and few glasses of Haut-Brion, the working lunch in France is now little more than le sandwich and a bottle of water.

One newspaper recently reported a distinguished brasserie owner in Paris saying: ‘They used to come here to eat well and have a good time. Now, they don’t eat, they don’t drink, they don’t smoke, soon they’ll give up having sex.’

If this is true, perhaps art can help to add a new hedonism when it comes to dining out.

If you travel to Venice, as we must from time to time, you can for the next few months enjoy gastronomic dishes that have been inspired by the abstract paintings of American artist Adolph Gottlieb (1903-1974).

Gian Nicola Colucci, Executive Chef of Hotel Danieli, has created a special menu in homage to Gottlieb’s paintings. The menu offers ‘Eatographs’, available for lunch at the Danieli until January 9, 2011.

Try this one: GREEN HALO, 1970:

‘Abstract images balanced without general model constraints lay ground for a highly intuitive and personal perception of color, where harmony and dissonance coexist.’

Black cuttlefish risotto with saffron, fresh tomato and buffalo mozzarella on basil sauce.

Or this one: IMAGINARY LANDSCAPE, 1969:

‘An imaginary landscape depicts a mental universe where color stains and a few marks delineate a thought.’

Lobster on fennel soup, porcini mushrooms, aromatic tomato compôte and purple potatoes.

Enticing descriptions? As T.S. Eliot once said: ‘We had the experience, but missed the meaning.’ However, while missing the meaning, Arts & Collections also hopes to report on the ‘eatograph’ experience at the Danieli, in a future issue.

It seems there is no end to the possibilities of creative combinations of art and food. And when one of our most distinguished auction houses, Sotheby’s, announces it has become a greengrocer for the day, you know that arts and collections has no boundaries. In the harvest festival month of September, in Manhattan, Sotheby’s launched its first sale of ‘heirloom’ vegetables. The ‘Art of Farming Sale’ offered vegetable varieties that were used historically but have fallen out of favour for commercial production.

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