Brain Pickings

Edible Landscapes: Miniature Vignettes Made from Food

What Martian landscapes have to do with London’s skyline and the mutations of Thanksgiving.


British photographer Carl Warner doesn’t look at broccoli and cabbage leaves the way you do. He seems in them trees and sunset skies. His fantasy food landscapes are part Ansel Adams, part Anthony Bourdaine, painstakingly hand-crafted with only minimal Photoshop involvement.

London Skyline
Riverbank walls: panini; lamppost: mackerel, asparagus, onion, vanilla pods; London Eye: green beans; courgette, leek, lemon, rhubarb supports; The Dome: green melon.
Coconut Haystacks
Parsley trees with horseradish trunks, red cabbage sky, toasted almonds as distant haystacks, and loaves of bread for hills
Chinese Junk
The roster of ingredients includes dried lotus leaves for snails, noodles for the wood floor, physalis lanterns, and the obscure wild green yamakurage for the rope.
Celery Rain Forest
Canope made of okra with dried chili oarsman, tiny mushroom hat and a cardamom pod; path: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and lentils
Cart & Balloons
Balloons made of red onion, apple, garlic bulb and other fruits; balloon baskets: nuts; hills and fields: bread, cucumber, string beans, green beans, corn, asparagus

Warner’s book, Food Landscapes, came out last month and is a page-turner of visually delicious fascination.

via NPR


Almost two years ago, we spotlighted photographer Matthew Carden’s Small World — a series of stunning macro photographs exploring our relationship with food through a compelling blend of playfulness and meditation on wastefulness.

Monks walking on a lettuce-and-bread mountain trail
Take a ride down the sprinkles-covered hill

Carden’s work is a timely prompt for reflection around Thanksgiving, a holiday designed as appreciation for our blessings yet one that has mutated into a celebration of gluttony and excess.


We featured Matthew Albanese’s Strange Worlds at length back in February, but his miniature condiment landscapes are worth a revisit. The remarkably detailed creations, made out of everyday culinary materials like cinnamon, paprika, jello and corn syrup, depict emotive visions of surreal, often otherworldly landscapes.

Tornado made of steel wool, cotton, ground parsley and moss
A Martian landscape, made out of 12 pounds paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder and charcoal

See more of Albanese’s fantastic and fantastical work here.

Published November 12, 2010




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