Images via Scanwiches
Lately, Nicola Twilley’s food and architecture musings on Edible Geography have been rousing our brains as well as our stomachs. Whether mapping out urban “gumscapes” or reflecting on the taste of city drinking water, Twilley has teased out fascinating correlations between our food and our built environment.
One parallel we loved in particular was the trend of documenting and understanding food through cross-sections, which, Twilley reminds us, is an age-old practice in the field of architecture. “Food photography is having a cross-sectional moment,” she says.
Twilley recalls reading an essay by architect Nicholas de Monchaux that specifically compared sandwiches to the architecture of the Italian Renaissance. Referencing art historian Rudolf Wittkower, de Monchaux discussed how buildings with cosmically ideal proportions, like Palladio’s Villa Rotonda, could only be truly understood in a cross-section, as shown above.
According to Wittkower, only a hypothetical vertical cut through the Villa Rotonda can show its “precisely perfected layering of space and substance that was contained by what might seem to have been an overwhelming or inscrutable façade.” Now apply this to your lunch: only an actual cross-section of a sandwich can penetrate its concealing carbohydrate façade to reveal its thoughtfully stacked internal components and (to dramatize a little) awaken “sublime sensations.”
Now here are some other cross-sections that reveal the divine harmonies of our food:
A cross-sectional look at the canning process from The Modernist Cuisine cookbook, image via Wired.
A cross-section of burgers grilling on a barbecue from the Modernist Cookbook.
Cross-section of a Snickers bar, via Scandybars
Cross-section of a Whopper, via Scandybars.
Etienne-Louis Boullée's proposal for a Cenotaph for Sir Isaac Newton