- Posted August 19, 2013 by
Carving Food as an Art
Food carving has been a craft for centuries. Traditional to countries like Thailand and Japan, the art of food carving is also practiced in the British Isles. Foods can be carved to serve as garnishes or centerpieces. Carved foods can also be the main meal -- or they might not be intended for consumption at all, but serve simply as decorations.
Thai Fruit Carving
Fruit carving is a traditional Thai art, originating in food preparation at the Thai royal court. Carving is a part of food presentation in Thai culture. Thai fruit and vegetable carving can be very elaborate and detailed. Flower designs are prevalent, with each petal delicately crafted. Commonly carved items include melons, squash, cucumber and other firm fruits and vegetables.
Japanese Food Carving
Japanese food carving centers around making beautiful garnishes called mukimono. These garnishes add delicate touches to a meal and enhance food presentation. Some of the garnishes, like cucumber fans, are set on top of or beside the main entree. Others are made to hold the food or are parts of small appetizers. For instance, cucumber boats can be topped with salmon for a delicate and aesthetically pleasing treat.
Carved pumpkins are also called jack-o'-lanterns. The name derives from the Irish legend of "Stingy Jack," who was not able to get into heaven or go to hell because he'd tricked the devil into promising not to take his soul. The devil gave Jack a burning coal, which Jack put into a turnip, and sent him on his way. Those who saw his spirit wandering called him Jack of the Lantern. In Scotland and Ireland, people carved frightening faces into potatoes and turnips in imitation of Jack's lantern. In England, they carved beets. In America, the tradition persists with carved pumpkins.
Using fresh food makes carving easier and also more visually appealing. Fruits and vegetables should be carved just before they are fully ripe, for the best results. Sharp stainless steel knives are the standard for carving food, but using a rotary tool with a pumpkin carving accessory will enable you to carve intricate patterns into hard shelled foods like squash, cucumbers, and other firm types of fruits and vegetables, far easier than using a knife. Carving should be done delicately so that you don't take too much of the food away. Use as much of the food as you can in your design and carve gently so as not to bruise or break fruits.