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Welcome to Broccoli Forest, where the clouds are cauliflower, the mountains are loaves of bread and dusty pathways are made of fragrant spices. Its creator, English photographer Carl Warner, likens it to an Ansel Adams landscape:
"As I built and composed my forest on a tabletop in the studio," he writes in his new book, "my goal was to combine the graphic simplicity that Adams achieves with his great eye for composition. ... The acid test for me was to remove the color ... to see how much it resembes the work of Adams. I hope you will agree that it's not a bad attempt, considering it's only broccoli and bread!"
This concept of food art is not entirely new. Painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo was creating food portraits as early as the 16th century! And it's actually that kind of art — although maybe a bit more modern — that incited Warner's imagination: As a child, he would hang surreal and trippy art posters by Dali, Patrick Woodroffe and Roger Dean on his walls. But his vision is still his own. How many of us can say we've been inspired by the way a plate of smoked salmon glimmers in the afternoon light?
Warner has been constructing food landscapes for a while, about 60% of which are commissioned. The rest, he said in an email, are personal projects, his favorite being the Fishcape.
Of course there is some Photoshopping involved; but for the most part, the landscapes are assembled entirely by hand. Like the boat in Chinese Junk. The long list of ingredients includes the obscure wild green yamakurage for the rope, dried lotus leaves for the sails, noodles for the wood floor and physalis for the lanterns.
If you could have a fantasy food landscape, what would it be? I envision a deconstructed sushi snowscape: fluffy rice snow, an icy ginger lake and midnight seaweed skies.
Food Landscapes was released by Abrams last month. See more on Warner's website.