A lot of folks have some questions for a photographer responsible for a very unusual food styling choice. First of which is the question, "why?"
On September 5, 2018, New Yorker writer Helen Rosner shared a photograph on Twitter of a delicious-looking cake she saw, cut seemingly with reckless abandon.
Rosner saw this unique take on plating via Pinterest. The creator remains semi-identified in the resulting thread as a French baker. (The dessert is a passion fruit upside-down cake. It's likely also considered abstract sculpture.)
Commenters under Rosner's tweet had a lot to say about the photograph, sharing their own run-ins with the hard-to-process slicing technique.
such a stressful photo!— Elayne Burke (@chatelainedc) September 5, 2018
Someone with no sense of fairness and justice. Someone whose mind is calm chaos. A hopeless realist committed to reflecting how life is, instead of how it should be.— Renee (@paix120) September 5, 2018
That one large piece in the middle right of the plate is really bothering me. I'm not even sure if that's an actual shape.— Hojaldre Heiress (@EatWithNia) September 5, 2018
A food stylist who failed geometry.— Eric Vellend (@ericvellend) September 5, 2018
One baker shared his own, equally vexing version of the method.
And one user shared what they think the photographer/baker was trying to achieve, and it's a beautifully complex and unique use of mathematical ratio.
There's a Mathematical Reason the Cake Looks Frustrating
If you're wondering why it frustrates our eyes to see a perfect circle cut into uneven ones, science can explain: It's all because of the golden ratio. The golden ratio is a math term for a special instance when two shapes compare 1:1.61 in scale. To break that down a little more, imagine you made a batch of Rice Krispies treats in a rectangular pan. Now, imagine I came over and ate most of it, (not sorry), leaving a small buttery rectangle of marshmallow goodness left. If your little bit is the same ratio as the pan, you could multiply your portion and it would fit perfectly, even though I ate the big part. (For science.) That's a golden ratio.
The special thing about the golden ratio is that it appears everywhere in nature and the world: It's in the way a sunflower grows its seeds in a spiral, like cauliflower and cabbage, and it's the way a wind and clouds rotate into storms — and in your apple slicer which makes perfect slices for pie. It's in the beautiful peach tart decoration that took a little longer to assemble than you expected but was worth it, the beaut.
But it's also why looking at a cake sliced like that makes your brain wonder why something so sweet feels just a little sour to you.
"I totally understand the photographic challenge of making a cake look interesting/not like Pac Man," Rosner tells Kitchn of the photo. "And from a formal perspective this is a really lovely solution!"
Yes, and I think most of us feel the same way Twitter user @kimgiacalone does, when she says the following:
Its seeming deliciousness outweighs my need for order. Send it to me!— Kim Giacalone (@kimgiacalone) September 5, 2018