Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘food’

28 JULY, 2010

The Geometry of Pasta: A Minimalist Design Cookbook

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Canestrini, canestri and what design minimalism has to do with the perfect sauce.

When you think pasta, you don’t immediately think design. But a new book out today, The Geometry of Pasta, is out to once and for all confirm every chef’s conviction: That food is art.

The unusual volume pairs London chef extraordinaire Jacob Kenedy with award-winning British graphic designer Caz Hildebrand, exploring the science, history and philosophy of Italy’s most iconic pasta dishes through more than 100 authentic recipes accompanied by stunning, artful black-and-white designs. And any book that comes with a trailer, a minimalist motion typography one at that, is a winner in our book.

In addition to the delicious aesthetic treat, The Geometry of Pasta promises to help you develop an intuitive skill for matching pasta and sauce to maximize taste and texture, a skill the authors — and pretty much all Italians — firmly believe is linked to the ability to choose the right shape of pasta for the sauce.

For a taste of the contents, sample some drool-inducing recipes and ogle some stylish pasta shapes on the book’s website. Then, grab yourself a copy of this wonderful intersection of the arts diguised as a cookbook and amp your kitchen’s hip factor definitively.

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19 MARCH, 2010

Infoviz Education: Animated Visualizations for Kids

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Helium, carbon, and what Little Red Riding Hood has to do with malnutrition in Africa.

We love infographics. We love animation. And we’re all for engaging kids in creative education. So today we’re looking at three educational infoviz animations that shed light on complex or important issues in beautifully art-directed ways that make little eyes widen and little brains broaden.

HOW TO FEED THE WORLD

Directed by Denis van Waerebeke, How To Feed The World is a brilliant animated short film made for the Bon appétit exhibition in Paris science museum. Though aimed at helping kids ages 9 to 14 understand the science behind eating and why nutrition is important, the film’s slick animation style and seamless visual narrative make it as educational for kids as it is for budding designers, looking to master the art of using design as a storytelling medium.

Bonus points for the obligatory British voiceover, always a delightful upgrade.

THE STORY OF STUFF

Though not necessarily aimed at kids alone, Annie Leonard’s brilliant The Story of Stuff — which we reviewed extensively some time ago — condenses the entire materials economy into 20 minutes of wonderfully illustrated and engagingly narrated storytelling that makes you never look at stuff the same way again.

The Story of Stuff recently got a book deal, further attesting to its all-around excellence. We highly recommend it.

THE ELEMENTS

A few months ago, we reviewed They Might Be Giants’ fantastic Here Comes Science 2-disc CD/DVD album aimed at the K-5 set, a brilliant intersection of entertainment and creative education. One of the highlights on it is this wonderful animated journey across the periodic table, a true exercise in art-meets-science.

The entire album is well worth the two Starbucks lattes that it costs, both as a tool of inspired education for kids and a timeless music treat for indie rock fans of all ages.

BONUS

Though certainly not educational, and likely not aimed at kids, this fantastic animation — which we featured exactly a year ago today — offers a brilliant infographic reinterpretation of the Brothers Grimm children’s classic The Little Red Riding Hood, inspired by Röyksopp’s Remind Me.

We’d love to see this as a series, celebrating the cross-pollination of some of our favorite facets of creative culture — animation, data visualization, and classic children’s literature — with quirk, humor and superb art direction.

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04 NOVEMBER, 2009

The Botany of Desire: Michael Pollan Explores Big Agriculture

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Cannabis, tulips and what a potato has to do with our sense of entitlement.

While the world was busy getting excited over yesterday’s much-anticipated DVD release of Food Inc., an arguably more compelling revelation of truth about food was taking place. Because Food Inc. is a fine film full of eye-opening and well-researched information, but it, like many similar documentaries, has a serious preaching-to-the-choir problem due to the self-selection bias of its audience, composed mainly of people already familiar with the issue and interested in its resolution. These are the people who would go see a limited-release indie film in theaters, or actively pursue the DVD. But what about those who lack the awareness and thus the interest in issues that clearly impact them and should thus warrant that awareness and interest?

Yesterday was also the much-less-trumpeted DVD release of the excellent PBS series The Botany of Desire, which explores how humans have used the plant world to gratify our desires. Featuring the brilliant food advocate Michael Pollan, one of our big cultural heroes about whom we’ve gushed many times before, the series isn’t sensationalistic or alienatingly focused the large-scale, institution-level pitfalls of big agriculture.

Instead, Pollan peels away at the issue through four tangible case studies of everyday plants whose evolution we’ve manipulated ruthlessly in our quest for gratuitous self-fulfillment: Marijuana, gratifying our desire to change consciousness; the potato, filling our need for control; the tulip, reflecting our yearning for beauty; and the apple, which started from Kazakhstan’s forests and ended up as the universal fruit, satisfying our craving for sweetness.

The Botany of Desire is a fascinating and rich exploration of the human relationship with the plant world, an eye-opening reflection of the ugly sense of entitlement governing many of our social, biological and moral choices. Of course, how much such awareness translates into actionable change is a separate issue altogether, one behavioral psychology has been trying to tackle for ages. But it’s a step — and we strongly encourage you to take it.

Catch the full-length programming on PBS or grab the freshly released DVD from Amazon, and think about the story of the next apple you bite into.

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