Art of carving fruits and vegetables

25/01/2014 13:22

Source: Tourismembassy

Category: Food trends

Art of carving fruits and vegetables

The mesmerizing art of carving fruits and vegetables originated in the Far East and has caught on in other parts of the world as well. It was believed to have been practiced in Japan and Thailand 700 years ago. Also called as Mukimono in Japan, chefs carved vegetables to garnish food. In Thailand too, it was used to decorate rafts during important festivals. In both the countries, it was started by chefs who wanted to impress the members of the royal family with their skills. Over a period of time, this art was passed on from one generation to another and it also became more refined over the years. With colonialism and globalization, it spread to other parts of the world and today, it is practiced seen as a form of art in both Eastern and Western countries.

For travelers, this is a fascinating art as it helps them to get a glimpse into the local culture that has helped to shape it. One can see these carved fruits and vegetables in many Asian restaurants as they strive to keep up with their tradition. These carvings are usually a mix of the native Asian culture with liberal doses of the local culture. For example, in Holland, some Asian restaurants carve tulips out of tomatoes to help visitors get a glimpse of the art and is also local to the region as Holland is famous for its tulips. In authentic Japanese and Thai restaurants in the Europe and the US, beautiful fruit and vegetable carvings are presented on the dining tables


Other than restaurants, one can see carvings done by artisans in all major food festivals today. In some cultures, fruit and vegetable carvings are displayed in christenings and in private parties. In India, for example, one can see fruit and vegetable carvings displayed in many wedding halls just before guests enter the dining area. The idea behind such display is not only to show the skills of the artisans, but also to entice guests to enter the dining hall. Some chefs believe that a visual display of food triggers taste buds and helps guests to better relish their food. For these reasons, it is common to find different carvings on the entrance of dining halls in Indian weddings. In other cultures, fruit and vegetable carvings are given away as gifts on specific holidays like Christmas and New Year to wish an entire year of healthy living and happy eating.

Irrespective of the occasion and place, fruit and vegetable carvings find a prominence in all parts of the world. They are not easy to make and are a testimony to the skills and talents of the artisans carving it.
In most cases, these specialized artisans have taken formal training from culinary institutes and this gives them a hold on the basic techniques. The rest is up to their imagination and practice.


Artisans carve fruits and vegetables about three hours before the event starts and they leave it in cold water for the carvings to set. The tools they need to carve include cutting board, small and medium sized knives with sharp edges, a sharp peeler with preferably an oval edge, bells pins, tooth picks and dry sticks used to represent the stem of flowers. With these tools, the artisan is all set to run his or her imagination wild and come up with a variety of flowers, baskets, insects, birds, animals, toys and just about anything that is appropriate for the occasion.

In short, when you see a carved fruit or vegetables the next time, spend a few minutes to admire its beauty and intricacy. It will not only give you a glimpse into ancient culture, but will also make the artisan happy!


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