Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fuster’s Fare

Jasmine Goodwin
Reporting from Havana

HAVANA, Cuba - The word "art" can apply to a diverse set of meanings. For some, it means painting. A chef might consider the food they make to be culinary art. A ballerina considers their movement in a pair of pointe slippers to be "performance art." While these are all candidates of being called art, what is it called when all three of them collide to provide an explosive experience that is unlike any other? I found the answer in Havana at the home of an artist named Jose Fuster.

"My house is full of artwork," said nearly every person who considers themselves a connoisseur of knowing and appreciating art. Fuster puts all of them to shame. Why? Because his isn't just full of art, his house is art.

We entered Fuster's home and the sound of gasps of awe filled the pathway. The home is adorned in various materials that come together to create a story told through images. Tiles surround parts of the art work to create the effect of framing, just like a person might frame a picture or a piece of artwork such as a painting.

The further we walked and discovered different parts of the home, the more it became more than a mere experience of visiting an average art museum. The home was like a cross between Disney Land and a carnival's fun house (minus the rides.)

Now, I am sure you're wondering about how the other two elements of art figure into the collision.

The food was presented family-style. This became fairly normal to us as we had dined in a family-style setting multiple times prior to our visit to Fuster's home. The food itself was incredible, prepared as pieces of art and served in an artistic style and design. Vegetables were presented in a circular design and some of the dishes were adorned with garnishments of parsley.

We dined on lobster, beef, salad, and bread. The meal also had Cuban staples of black beans an rice.

The performance of the art came in the form came from the chefs. I asked one of them how long it took to prepare all of the food, and he explained that it took nearly six hours from start to finish. He patiently waited as we ate and finished our food. His art came in the form of how collected our plates and served the following courses. It seemed as though he was performing to the sound of music that wasn't playing out loud. He gathered the plates like the sound of a beating drum was guiding him. When the remaining courses were served, he gracefully delivered a platter of coffee without a single drip coming out of the tiny cups it was served in.

Dining at the home of Jose Fuster was one of the most unique dining experiences I've ever had, and will be a tough one to be surpassed by future meals in an artistic setting. 

Why it changed the way I eat:

Discovering art within art within art (yes, you read that right) is possible if you seek it. Local Seattle-based restaurants have art hung on their walls, but how often do I take the time to think about why it's there, what it means, and how it compliments the meal I am served? Instead of focusing on food, or the game on the flat screen near the bar, I will take a moment to observe, think, and understand the setting around me.

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