IN PICTURES- They look too pretty to eat. However, the art of carving fruits and vegetables, as the champions of this specialty of Thai origin know how to do so well, also makes them more appetizing. Come to the Château d’Auvers-sur-Oise on May 23 and 24 for a demonstration.
In the year 1364, Phra Ruang, king of the city of Sukhothai, Thailand, fell in love with the flower and bird carved from a vegetable by his servant Nang Noppamart. The latter, who only sought to astonish her sovereign, was, according to tradition, the initiator of this new art, Kae-Sa-Luk, which today is part of the national heritage of this South-East Asian country where it is taught in schools from a very young age. On May 23 and 24, it will be possible to meet enthusiasts of this subtle art during the Irisiades, the festival of flowers, plants and the arts which is held each year at the Château d’Auvers-sur-Oise (Val d ‘Oise).
While it already seems difficult to us to disembowel a watermelon to make a simple sangria bowl, national champions of artistic fruit and vegetable carving will show visitors step by step how to go about transforming simple food into visual spectacle.
Spread over the two days of the event, a busy program: practical workshops from which each participant will leave with their little sculpted flower, an installation inspired by the theme of the year, “Flowers make their cinema”, where visitors will have fun discovering the portraits of Charlie Chaplin or Isabelle Adjani carved out of watermelons and finally a large composition of sculpted plants, mounted by Frédéric Jaunault with Jacques Castagné, with a baroque and arcimboldesque look.
Chiseled with a scalpel
If watermelon is the star of the spring-summer season, squash reigns over the autumn-winter parades: in fact, all cucurbits (a large family also including pumpkins, cucumbers, zucchini and gourds) offer generous flesh to the sculptor’s scalpel. Root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, beets and white radishes (raphanus sativusalso called daikon in Japanese) are also often used. The absence of seeds makes it a homogeneous material, sometimes embellished with unexpected natural nuances, such as the pink and white stripes of Chioggia beetroot. But all fruits and vegetables lend themselves to the game: “what is interesting is precisely to move from one to the other, it allows you to vary the pleasures”, confides to the Figaro Frédéric Jaunault, French and European champion of Kae-Sa-Luk.
Fruit & vegetable school
Watching this artist at work is impressive: how much time – and patience – does it take to accomplish this masterful work which results in an ephemeral work, because the plant does not survive more than two or three days maximum? The question makes him smile: “With all the tools at our disposal, we don’t yet know how to enjoy life and we spend our hours complaining that we don’t have enough time!” Best worker in France, founder of the Fruit and Vegetable Academy and the Fruit & Vegetable School, Frédéric Jaunault justifies his patience with his passion, but does not ask as much of everyone: “All it takes is four strokes of knife to make a turnip smile or turn a strawberry into a rose. The goal is to share good times with loved ones, even by sticking to very simple gestures. This is learned.