The restaurants and cafes in Singapore provided me with my first exposure to fake food. Food items, made of plastics and resins, waxes and lacquers, displayed to represent the items on a a menu or to provide a tableau of deliciousness to tempt the potential diner.
As well as being inviting, they also serve as an instructive, informational guide to menu items. Especially in Japan , where using fake food is an art form. The bowls and plates of fake food interpret the menu for the diner. The aesthetics of the displays may also satisfy the Japanese desire for form and beauty in the food they eat.
The range available is enormous and is utilised by food stylists, photographers, film makers, restaurants, diners – anyone needing a non-perishable, perfect representation of a food or drink item.
Several months ago I noticed that some entrepreneurial ebay sellers had taken advantage of the cupcakes’ current popularity. They were making and selling the most beautiful, delicious looking “faux” cupcakes. More perfect than the most perfect real thing, they are piled high with piped and swirled “icing”, and were designed to sit on your pretty vintage plates and cake stands, tempting everyone who saw them. Food as decor. We did it with those hard-baked and lacquered bread loaves, buns and plaits in the 1980’s. It was the country kitchen accoutrement.
I am entranced and I don’t really know why…
The ’80’s also saw me poring over American food magazines and marvelling at the glossiness of the Thanksgiving turkey and the white, fluffy whipped cream pies. That’s what I wanted to see. I didn’t care that the turkey was probably raw ( much better “turkey”shape ) painted brown and glossed with furniture lacquer, or that the “whipped cream” was most likely shaving foam or something, and topping one of 20 perfect “pies” the stylist had made for the photo shoot. I wanted to be beguiled and seduced by the images that appeared. Strangely (or not) I do not like stylised food when I go out to eat .
Then I want the food to be as it comes. For me, the composition of the Vietnamese pho, or Malaysian nasi kandar provide all the stimulation I need and cannot be improved on. No matter how much they were tweaked or fiddled with. Reverse food styling maybe? Rejecting the visually perfect in favour of the authentic? I don’t know.
If you haven’t seen what is available as fake food, and you’re interested, here’s a US site to visit: