Artistry & Creativity & Imagination
Thinking is art. I am a thinker, a creative thinker. I am an artist. It took me over 30 years to really believe this with passion and conviction as I do today. What took my so long and why was it such a stretch for me to imagine and believe that I was indeed an artist? I am currently in Tel Aviv and it has been a long time since I have been here, probably not as long as one would think as I travel here often, but it’s been a while, 6 months to be exact. I have always reveled in the amazing artistry of the people here. Since the beginning to my travels to Israel, I have witnessed in awe the creativity in life and how it transforms into the culture, the arts, the way people dress, the way they decorate and the music they make. My awe is targeted in this case to the artistry they show when it comes to food and all things food related. They seem so naturally imaginative and creative and living with artistry in their daily lives seems like second nature. It’s almost an arrogance of fine living when it comes to food. I am attracted to this part of Israel, even more than the food itself! The culture as a whole lives and breathes creativity and I have had this sudden epiphany that in addition to their culture (politics and government as well) really embracing art and artistry as a major importance. It’s the creative thinking that is embedded in them through their history that allows for this amazing way of living life and embracing art. Here art is much more loosely defined than in the states. I admire this trait that is somewhat common in many part of the world but taken for granted by Americans, especially when it comes to food. We place so much emphasis still on food as a science and as a business that we forget about the artistry of it and how to utilize the details of our creative thinking in order to enhance the food we eat and the experiences around food.
Everywhere one goes here, whether it is to a five star restaurant, a shack on the beach or a Shabbat family meal in a natives home, and no matter what socio-economic class one resides in, artistry in food is prevalent throughout the culture in Israel and specifically in Tel Aviv and Jaffa. The attention to detail is second to none and the patience that accompanies this attention to detail partners beautifully in what is essentially a creation of a harmonious life style surrounding food. In Israel food is a not just a way of fueling the body, it is a time for appreciating, and respecting and indulging healthily and in Israel this takes time, unlike the United States where meals outside The French Laundry type of place are quick and impatient. The Israelis can take up to two hours just sipping espressos on a weekday afternoon, a far distance from the American Starbucks to-go culture.
The experience, without even touching on the food makes for lesson in artistry. One commonality that is seen throughout Tel Aviv and Jaffa is the location it’s self. An ancient city combined with a new one, melded perfectly together and history and culture embedded in the architecture and décor. Most establishments serving food take pride in the look or design, to the point where it is difficult to even focus my attention on my friends or colleagues when I am out and about, due to the fact that my eyes are wondering in lust over the artistry. The ceilings, the floors, the lights, the tables, everything encompasses the utmost attention to detail. Almost every place you go is as if an artist designed it. The energy and the ambiance capture this artistry with such detail as well; it’s really hard to leave. Even the bathrooms of most places are attended to with this same attention to detail. Most are unisex with a communal washing area, and most are not only unbelievably clean but artistically designed. There are several restaurants and coffee shops that I always tell my American travel companions that they must see and I have to admit, I have several pictures of yes, bathrooms at restaurants in Tel Aviv and Jaffa.
The food and the way the food takes center stage in the lives of the folks who live in Tel Aviv and Jaffa are as uniquely artistic as the design. The open air markets display the fruits and vegetables as I have never seen before and I have traveled extensively throughout the world. Pomegranates peeled back exposing the bursting seeds and all their glistening glory. Olives piled up so high in bowls they seem to defy gravity and walls of herbs of green heavens abound the stalls. Walking through the market it is hard for me to shop as I mainly just sit in awe of the spectacular visions of art, the sellers have made with their foodstuffs. In the restaurants and food carts it is the same, everything displayed as if it was an exhibition. Now the irony here is there is not a compromise in flavor of the food or fruits or vegetables. We here in the USA often see the kind of places that focus so much attention to food as art that they miss the real true mark and that is in flavor. Fresh squeezed pomegranate juice made before your eyes with the freshest of fruit, with the most unique tools and the best precision and form, the nuts are roasted before your eyes and the spices sifted. The smells the sights and the sounds are everything food and culture, it is remarkable and it is art. This is the really unique point I make with Israel, they simply do not miss a beat. Every single element that can be thought of (and more) is recognized and in the end, the creativity of thought has made food and the food scene an art.
My father is a builder, a genius builder, he thinks, he designs and he builds; he is an artist. My brother is a sculptor, he imagines, he thinks, he sculpts, he is an artist. My sister in law is a painter, she dreams, she thinks, she paints, she is an artist. My niece is a writer, she conjures, she thinks, she writes, she is an artist. My friend is a musician, he feels, he thinks, he composes, he plays, he is an artist. My entire life I battled with feeling as if I was an artist, my soul resonating with the creativity, the imagination and the freedom that it takes to create “art” yet my world didn’t recognize what I did as art. Traveling the world and particularly in Israel has lead me to a path where I am solid in my own conviction of my own true artistry. I am a food & food culture artist. I see, I smell, I taste, I indulge, I dream, I conjure, I test, I trial, I watch, I listen, I dream, I think, I create….my medium is simply with food and food culture.
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