Lunch for Tolga: a grilled cheese with a happy face made of olives, served on a blue elephant plate and delivered to him right at his computer. Lunch was blissful and all was well. Until the day he tried to return the favor.
Earlier this week Tolga was working on some 3D gems and didn’t want to stop, so he asked if I could sling him a grilled cheese sandwich. I did it, put a smiley face on it, presented it on an elephant plate and woolah! A happy, artful, geek lunch was delivered right to his computer desk. It was followed by more fun food. Lunch was blissful.
Every mom does creative things like this for her kids – for the smile factor. Tolga’s not my child, he’s my 40-something-Turkish-media-genius-record-producer-software-wizard, but he was just as thrilled with a smiling grilled cheese as my children would have been when they were 4.
Tolga decided to return the favor a couple days later when I was working on my own deadline. I heard him yell from the kitchen that he made me a surprise lunch and was bringing it to me at my desk.
I was delighted. He makes killer kabobs and other Middle Eastern food which he blankets with cumin, so my imagination increased my hunger and my taste buds were gearing up.
But when he came in, the hand-painted wooden meal tray only had a single blue cup on it – centered in the middle of the pink toll-pointed roses. It looked like he was trying to be artful.
“Is this my drink?”
“No it’s your whole lunch,” he said.
“Is it a protein shake,” I asked.
“No, it’s delicious though, I just had some, you’ll love it. Take it!”
Fair enough. I took control of the meal tray. I put it by my computer.
Excitedly, I peeked over the top of the cup.
But I saw this.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. It looked to me like the gizzards and tissue and organs from an animal with blood spatters. I was horrified.
But it was kimchi.
Kimchi is supposed to be healthy for you.
There was just something about the presentation of this that didn’t work for me. I mean, does this look delicious to you?
Tolga stood there waiting to see if I liked it, anticipating a happy response. Since he brought no silverware, I slowly reached into the cup with my fingers, took a little glob of the vegetable blood and guts, and cautiously, I stuffed the flopping cabbage and plant debris into my mouth and forced my mouth to chew.
He was right.
It was great. Great! I chomped it all down and even made a ridiculous mess on my chin, fingers and blouse, and I loved it.
It was Tolga’s attempt at an artful lunch. There was nothing ugly about it in his brain – it was beautiful and delicious to him. So when I quit stressing over how dreadful the kimchi-in-a-cup appeared, I ended up enjoying my lunch very much. Thank you, my sweetie. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as always.
The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things,
but their inward significance.