Question: What do you get when you combine the appreciation of fine food and the appreciation of fine art?
The Art of Food Program is designed to present art in a new way, through cuisine. Combining art and food, the museum visitor experiences a pre-dinner guided gallery tour, followed by a themed gourmet meal prepared and served at the museum’s restaurant Treviso.
My firsthand experience with this innovative program occurred last week with the PETER PAUL RUBENS: Impressions of a Master exhibition. Joining a group of 25-30 people we were provided a guided tour of the Rubens exhibit co led by Maureen Thomas-Zaremba, Curator of Education, and Virginia Brillant, Associate Curator of European Art. Since the theme for the evening was centered on food, specific works representing feasts in the 17th century were highlighted and discussed. In fact many of Rubens’ works: The Feast of Acheloüs, The Feast of Herod, and Feast in the House of Simon the Pharisee as well as others depicted the celebration of food and life in the early to mid-1600’s. After an informative and entertaining tour, the table was set for a modern day interpretation of a 17th century banquet. Returning to the main visitors center, we entered Treviso to experience the culinary aspects of the program.
A Baroque Banquet
The menu prepared and served by the Treviso culinary staff was a representation of foods which might have been served to important guests of the Rubens and/or dignitaries of the early 17th century. The Baroque Banquet menu consisted of the following:
Fish Bisque with Chestnuts and Artichokes
Dutch salat with Endive and Beetroot served with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Smoked Duck served with Braised Cabbage, Caramelized Onion, and Smoked Bacon with Caraway
Apple and Steak Pie
Selection of red or white wine
Each course was presented with a small introduction and reference to the significance of 17th century dining and Rubens’ work at the time. Informative, entertaining, and delicious, the meal complemented the tour perfectly.
Offering an interesting and unique way to not only develop an appreciation for fine art but also providing an opportunity to experience food in periodic context, I found the Ringling Art of Food an innovative program.
Since the Baroque Banquet was the last schedule Art of Food event for the year, I inquired about plans for next year. At the present time, the plans for next year’s Art of Food program remain undecided.