For reasons both practical and romantic, I usually create a little bit of kitchen art when I return from the farmers' market. Often it's just a simply arranged bowl of fruit or a line of tomatoes left on the windowsill to ripen. But if I'm feeling creative or if my haul is particularly beautiful, I find myself building a more elaborate display, a painterly still life right there on my kitchen table.
Certain fruits and vegetables are best left out of the refrigerator to encourage them to ripen and sweeten. This is especially true of fruits like melons, stone fruit and tomatoes. Most herbs do best simply treated like cut flowers: ends trimmed, then into in a vase of water and left on the counter. Other vegetables, like garlic, onions, or winter squash simply don't require refrigeration. So the kitchen still life has a strong practical application.
Also, as a visual person, when something is out of my sight, it can also fall out of my awareness. So it's helpful for me to have those super ripe tomatoes right there on the counter, reminding me to make them into something delicious right now. Or to walk by a bowl of peaches and catch their scent. Or to glance at a squash to inspire visions of a savory pie for supper.
But practicalities aside, I also really enjoy both building and dismantling (through the process of cooking) my kitchen art. I think the food I find at the farmers' market is especially pleasing with its irregularities and vivid colors. I like it when everyday, mundane things are allowed to reveal their beauty and mystery. And I especially love it when I can turn something as basic and practical as food for the belly into food for the heart and soul.
Do you build kitchen art with your produce?
(Image: Dana Velden)