Author Archive

The Artisans Behind the Vision

June 17th, 2016 by kalena19

IMG_4457 IMG_4563 IMG_4584

Katherine Lenahan
Professor Borghini & Professor MacDonald
17 June 2016

Throughout our time here, we have learned about food production in a unique way. From the process that ingredients go through to the way in which we taste these products and deconstruct them with our tastebuds, food and wine are more complex than I ever imagined. In order to understand how to deconstruct the components of each artist’s creation. I met multiple artists with each stop that we made, and learned about their method to their art, including the craftsmanship that is apart of each of their pieces. When we met with wine producers and butchers such as Dario and Vicky, we met artists that truly shape their products that reflects their innate creativity that yields an irreplaceable experience with each meal or bottle of wine that is created. Speaking with these artists in and around Panzano was a great experience and understanding their methods was essential, however with each artist that we met, we truly did not have the opportunity to understand the artists that remain behind the faces of the main artists such as Dario or Vicky. Dario and Vicky may be the heads of their projects, but they are not the rest of the body; they are not the hands that pick all of the grapes, feed all of the cows, trim the vines, and cut all of the meat. My objective in this paper is to capture the viewpoint of the layers of artists that reside behind the heads of these studios and correct the disconnect that we have with them in order to fully understand the importance of multiple aspects of the artwork that we experienced.
What is an artist?
An artist is an individual or a group of individuals who can convey their inner thoughts and emotions through a medium that an audience can interpret, and this interpretation can be through our senses or through our emotions. Telfer and I clash in regard to categorizing art; she feels that a “work of art” is something that its creator wanted it to be looked at “with intensity, for its own sake.” Telfer continues to expand upon this argument, but her ideas also encompass the concept that we cannot have an aesthetic reaction to taste or smell. Her definition directly clashes with mine because I feel that after experiencing extensive wine tastings and food samplings that I am moved in a way that a painting or a sculpture cannot capture. Taking her definition, it is essential to see that when we are served wine for example, we taste wine with an intensity that is unmatched with any other beverage that I consume to the point where I take notes about the wine just as some take notes about art that they view in a museum or gallery. Food is a major art that infiltrates my senses and emotions in a way that is unlike any other form of art. Telfer also argues that food is not a major art because we destroy upon consumption, however we criticize art when we visually and emotionally interpret it. In both cases we are “destroying” the art that is either hanging on the wall or on the table before us. Dario has captured the definition of an artist and this is evident from his restaurants which are his galleries atmosphere that he creates for individuals to interpret his work. Therefore it is evident that his dishes are considered major works of art. Through the definition that I provided above, the love, respect and savory flavors that are present in his work reflect the definition of an artist and are evident in each bite. We can better understand my interpretation through two cases, Dario Cecchini & Vicky Schmitt.
Dario the Sculptor, the Waiters the Chisels:
Dario is the master butcher, genius, and moderator of his butcher shop, but his genius shines with the layers of artisans that work for him. Their feelings toward this process reflect the overall product. The servers feel as if they are apart of a family and create an experience that is a form of art. This perspective is essential to understand because their contribution in their everyday work is an extension of Dario’s vision and without feeling this way towards his vision, we as interpreters of this art would not connect to a man who’s personality is overpowering and who’s meat would be seen as merely “special.” They are indispensable because they convey Dario’s message through their art of serving. Even though Dario’s genius is admirable, Dario can be an intimidating figure to approach, and the artisans behind his vision create an environment that aides the viewer in dissecting the art that they receive from Dario’s. These two entities are interconnected in such a way that truly makes this process an art form. Borghini explains how dishes and recipes are different but connected in the sense that “a dish is the stuff and the recipe is the idea,”; just as Dario’s artisans are the “dish” that contribute to the recipe, which is his vision. Borghini’s explanation of the importance of this phenomena is essential to consider in order to fully understand Dario’s craft. The combination of the art of service and the vision that Dario produces is not only beautiful cuts of meat but also a complex relationship with animals, that makes his work true art because we can consume it with our senses as well as just through vision and interpret its meaning. This significance and emotional complexities that exist in the ethical dilemma that we have as meat eaters makes us feel in some ways as if we are truly appreciating the creation that nature provides. This process is unmatched by any other medium that Telfer may try to argue because it is an organic experience that encapsulates so many emotional responses that we do not quite understand what we have experienced until after the meal. Dario’s work is a major art that cannot convey its true meaning to its audience without the layers of artisans behind his vision that truly convey the experience of joy and understanding of the creation.
Vicky at Le Fonti & Social Structure:
Vicky is another artist who has artisans behind her vision to better shape the taste that she encapsulates into her wine. Le Fonti’s workers encompass a multitude of backgrounds that influence the wine. The artisans are comprised of both Italians who chose to work in the fields as a vocation as well as the Eastern European immigrants who fled violence in their home countries of Albania and Kosovo. Vicky explained that they are all hard workers who enjoy their work in the fields and strive to pick only the best grapes for the winery. They enjoy their work because of the healthy and respectful relationship that Vicky has with the growers, which yields a more fruitful result. These workers are a part of the exception to the food system because they are not fiscally valued as a form of labor and their methods are not standardized which means that Vicky is willing to pay for more hours from them if there are slower field workers during the harvest time; it is not solely about quantity, but quality. The environment specifically at Le Fonti is dissimilar from the food system because the process to create wine is not as industrial as other larger wineries, as a result, the workers are treated better. Sandler provides a profile of workers that includes characteristics of immigrants and their risk of deportation, however, Vicky articulated that many of her workers who are Albanian or of Eastern European descent are so grateful to have an opportunity that supports a new life for them. The Italian workers are continuing an art that represents the region and is an art that is critical to generating quality in the product. This critical because the quality is something that we can smell, see, and taste and from our senses and detect flavors that vary from berries to vanilla and others that connect emotions and memories, making the tasting a powerful experience. This art is generated through a thoughtful harvest process; some artists creating other art forms convey suffering while others convey love, joy, or remnants of their culture through their process. In this case, the Eastern European field workers pick grapes knowing that the grapes represent freedom, and infuse this feeling into their work. This is why a bottle of wine is more emotional than we actually realize; when we consume it, we are not only tasting our memories, our thoughts, and our feelings, but we are tasting with it the artists’ aspirations and emotions as well.This is more powerful than Telfer’s examples of visual art because we are interpreting the wine that we consume in a communal way that is not present at a gallery.

IMG_4421 IMG_4601

The artists that we met with are essential to representing this region and to generating paths to food resources that are ethical and delicious. The flavors that they pass to us connect us to memories and emotions in a way unlike any painting. Additionally, when we consume these products we are able to the emotions and sentiments that the artisans wanted to convey in a way that speaks to our own feelings and ideas. With out the artisans behind Dario and Vicky, their visions would be very different realities.

The McDario

June 12th, 2016 by kalena19

Dario is an exceptional butcher who has dedicated his life to raising animals in a humane way.  Why does he wait for twelve to fourteen years to use a cow for meat? Why is this a worthy investment? Dario’s philosophy is not derived from the “clean eating” craze that is occurring in the U.S. but it is rooted in a relationship between animals and humans. He acknowledges the need to understand that each time we are consuming meat, we sacrificed that animal for our own needs. Once Dario explained this dynamic and act of consumption, my relationship with food began to change.

After learning about Dario’s methods and overall philosophy and mission, I had an indescribable experience eating the McDario burger. Not only did I solely enjoy the burger, but I valued the entire meal. We sat down and consumed raw vegetables with olive oil and rosemary sea salt as well as some bread. The crisp carrots and celery as well as the warm and bitter flavors from the rosemary sea salt prepared my pallet for the main event.Once I received my medium McDario burger I thought that the plate was beautiful; the colors were balanced with the celery leaves, fresh tomatoes, and red onions. The smell contributed to an overall feeling of emotion that I find difficult to describe. The smell, the colors, the balance that was omnipresent throughout the meal represented the region as well as my own home. I felt the love, comfort, and thoughtfulness that I feel when I am home but I also found that this meal was beautiful and my excitement and energy matched how I feel at an art exhibit.

From my experience I found that I clashed with Elizabeth Telfer’s opinion of food as an art form. Telfer argues that food can only be a minor art because we cannot have an “aesthetic reaction to taste and smell.” I strongly disagree with her because a meal can withdraw my memories, experiences, and feelings with a smell or with the way in which the meal is assembled. Food can articulate how I feel at times when I cannot actually express myself clearly. Food screams louder, infiltrates my senses faster, and communicates more than some pieces of art can regardless of how bright they are, large, or detailed. Telfer may partially agree with my point of view, however she may argue that I am not calculating hunger into this equation. What she ultimately fails to recognize is our visual hunger for stimulation, color, and texture that can be satiated through the painting or visual that she is referencing.

Dario’s philosophy and dishes are exquisite to me and are works of art. They are aesthetically appealing and taste and smell greatly contributes to my emotions toward food. What also adds to the value of Dario’s artwork is the beautiful concept of a human being’s relationship to food and the respect that we must have of nature; our existence relies on the sacrifice of life.

This philosophy increases the value of the McDario burger in a way that is comparable to the stories behind some of the most influential and remarkable paintings.

Additionally, Dario’s philosophy highlights our role as consumers. It is essential that we understand our role in the food industry and the fact that we are an integral part of the food chain. Singer feels that the solution to inhumane treatment to animals is through vegetarianism or eliminating ourselves from the equation, however this is merely hiding from the problem instead of taking a proactive stance as a consumer. We need to have a better connection to our food and understand that each dish is truly one of a kind because we sacrifice a life in order to create it.

IMG_4588 IMG_4586 IMG_4464 IMG_4583