| Peter Klein |
Poetry is an art form. Cooking is a craft. (Oh, I know how the foodie blowhards — and even a lot of chefs — love to talk about food as art! But I’m sorry, noodles spun into towers and designs on plates with different-colored sauces do not equal art, so don’t talk to me about food as art or chefs as artistes.) As with any craft, there were artful levels and shared standards of excellence. The test’s very existence implied that great cooking, cooking at so-called master chef level, was not art, was only craft, the result of physical skills that were consistently measurable and comparable from one chef to the next. The Certified Master Chef exam aimed to set an objective standard of great cooking that existed regardless of this or that person’s own taste and preferences, something you could not do with an art such as poetry.
I used to agree with Ruhlman, until I saw the bacon weave. Now that’s art! (Thanks to Gary.)
On a more serious note, there are of course different schools of thought on the possibility of objective standards in art (not just visual arts but also music, literature, drama, and film). I don’t think Ruhlman’s distinction between art and craft implies some kind of postmodernism. Certainly one neen’t embrace pomo to understand that essay exams are a lot harder to grade than multiple-choice tests! (But see this.)
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