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Poetic and Distant as a Landscape

March 21, 2011

“I felt cut off. . . by the warmth too of that little dining-room, by the savor of the exquisite dishes that were set before us. These gave as much pleasure to my imagination as to my palate; sometimes the little piece of nature from which they had been extracted, the rugged holy-water stoup of the oyster in which lingered a few drops of brackish water, or the gnarled stem, the yellowed branches of a bunch of grapes, still enveloped them, inedible, poetic and distant as a landscape, evoking as we dined successive images of a siesta in the shade of a vine or of an excursion on the sea; on other evenings it was the cook alone who brought out these original properties of the viands, presenting them in their natural setting, like works of art, and a fish cooked in court-bouillon was brought out on a long earthenware platter, on which, standing out in relief on a bed of bluish herbs, intact but still contorted from having been dropped alive into boiling water, surrounded by a ring of satellite shell-fish, of animalcules, crabs, shrimps and mussels, it had the appearance of a ceramic dish by Bernard Palissy.” – Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way (1920; Moncrieff/Kilmartin/Enright transl.)

From Proust then, the final of this blog’s tripartite introduction: This project will talk about nature and art and their intersection, from New York parks to Transcendentalism to what’s on my plate.


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