The Language of Food

MCOctober 15, 2010

Masters of a given skill or discipline often converse using a passionate and descriptive language that is somewhat unique to their craft. Mechanical engineers use terms like “fluid motion.” Architects describe structures as having “dynamic lines” and “elegant curves.” Drummers use “bright” and “cold” to describe the sounds of certain cymbals.

Artists often say that a particular work or the raw materials from which it is made, “speaks” to them in some way. Some artists can translate what a piece says to them into language that evokes that feeling in the rest of us. Maxime “Max” Bilet is one of those artists. On a recent visit to The Cooking Lab, I asked Max about the role language plays in the creation and enjoyment of his art.

In art, as in science, a common language for expressing values and variables enables collaboration and progress. Scientists use math to convey theories and findings while artists rely on adjectives to express the elements of a piece. But as Max points out, “Whether or not you have the words for it…if someone is giving it their love, their creativity, and their hard work, you experience it no matter what your involvement with food is. Everyone connects to food and I wouldn’t presume that we know better.”

One Response to “The Language of Food”

  1. There is quite a lot of research to indicate that what we know (or learn) is closely linked to our language. The question of flavour/palate is a very interesting case and I’d guess that an important part of developing one’s palate would be to at the same time develop one’s language (literally speaking). In fact, I’d say that these are so closely intertwined that language might even contribute to defining how perceive food.