Whether others scoff at the expression or not, I do think “we eat with our eyes first,” or that presentation has at least some effect on how we experience food. At Alinea in Chicago, a restaurant often called the “best” in the country whatever that might mean, I find the way in which food is presented to be extremely beautiful. As you can see in this gallery of images on their site, the food displays are painstakingly arranged. I’m fascinated by the attempt to evoke a particular concept or flavor through an unexpected medium (e.g. “pb&j” or “apple”) and deconstruct a specific food item into variegated parts (e.g. “rhubarb”). The experience becomes defamiliarizing, which I think says something about its overall merit. But really, the entire premise verges on being ridiculously pointless. You’re probably going to look at the food for 30 seconds or a minute before you eat it. Yet I still admire what the food is endeavoring to grasp at, similar to formal artwork in terms of color, composition, and texture.