Thanks to the proliferation of outrageously popular TV food shows, Americans have grown to appreciate the aesthetics of a meal almost as much as its flavor. We've discovered our chefs are artists as well as cooks and bakers, and their colorful salads and abstract chocolate sculptures are works of art as well as good things to eat.But there is yet another dimension to food to be explored, says Italian-born Chef Tiberio Simone, a James Beard Award winner and author of a provocative new coffee table book, "La Figa: Visions of Food and Form" (LaFigaProject.com). Shot by Matt Freedman, it features full-color, artistically rendered portraits of the naked human body decorated with fresh ingredients. Incorporate food in your love life, he says, and you'll discover the sublime. • Choose fresh, natural, organic foods. Sexy food still has the taste nature gave it, and there's no better choice than organic food because it's grown with love. A farmer's market is a great place to shop because you can touch and smell the produce. • Watch out for food allergies - even if you don't plan to eat the food. If you're planning a sensual meal for your lover as a surprise, be aware of any food allergies or sensitivities he or she may have. Also, foods can cause irritation, burning or rashes when placed on the skin, if a person has a sensitivity. This can be especially true for certain delicate body parts. • Bring your lover on your food-shopping excursion. View it as a bit of sensual foreplay. You can have a lot of fun caressing and gently squeezing the foods, and inhaling their aromas. The conversation should be entertaining, too. • Taste the sensuality of the food while you and your partner eat. This sounds obvious, but it's not. Seduce your senses by breathing in the aroma of the dish. Close your eyes and inhale slowly so you can analyze and take in the ingredients. Take a small bite, roll the food around your tongue and in your mouth and make small sounds of pleasure. You might feel ridiculous, but it's fun, especially on a romantic date. "Food and touch are truly the basic ingredients of life. If done properly, they will not only provide pleasure, but also engage and delight the senses," says Simone. Adds photographer Freedman: "Any food can be beautiful and sensual if it has qualities that appeal to what you and your lover find sexy and enticing." Take a peach, for example. "Start by looking at its shape and colors," Simone says. "Press it just hard enough to feel the firmness and the touch of velvety skin, just like when you touch the skin of another person. I believe that fruits and vegetables respond to touch by releasing beautiful aromas for us to breathe in." Simone says his Italian heritage and his culinary fluency heightened his awareness of the sensual similarities between fresh, organic foods and the human body. Like the human body, every food in its natural state has beauty in its lines, shape, color and texture. And like the human body, food gives us exquisite pleasure on a primal level. "Spend a little time looking for the sensual aspects of food, and I guarantee you will become a pro at enjoying the sensual side of life," he says. Born in southern Italy, Tiberio Simone is an award-winning chef who started his career at an Italian restaurant in Seattle. His is now pastry chef at Seattle's Four Seasons Olympic Hotel and runs his own company, La Figa Catering.
********** Published: December 22, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 36