January 30, 2018 / Luxury Lifestyle

Food, Art, and History at New York City's Most Famous Museum

Angelis Nannos’s culinary New York City art tour offers a taste of the Met’s menu of food-related masterpieces

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When he first moved to New York City four years ago, Angelis Nannos found the sheer volume of works in the city’s museums staggering. So the former food blogger learned to use his favorite topic as the compass to navigate the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s more than two million works.

Angelis Nannos, founder of In Food We Trust, leads small groups on a tour of the Met’s foodie art, sharing tasty facts and trivia while exploring the deeper historical and cultural messages behind each piece. Banner image: <i>Garden Gathering</i>, a tile thought to be of Iranian origin, and created around the 1640s or 1650s. This work provides a glimpse into a seventeenth-century Persian garden, with all its delicious delights.“Food is a thread that connects many of the artworks and artifacts, and tells us so much about the politics, religion, and history of the times in which they were made,” Nannos says. Today the Greek-born culinary tour guide shares this knowledge and passion with the “guests” who join him on his food-themed Metropolitan Museum of Art tour—now one of several In Food We Trust excursions.

Edward Hopper’s <i>Tables for Ladies</i> (1930) is among the works featured by Angelis Nannos in his food-art tours of the Met.“Some people host dinner parties at home; I throw one almost every day at the Met, where my guests and I enjoy a ‘menu’ of food-related masterpieces.

Some people host dinner parties at home; I throw one almost every day at the Met

“There’s a papyrus shopping list that really speaks to me,” Nannos says. “It’s from the third century BC and is written in ancient Greek, yet the ingredients and tone sound so contemporary. When I look at it, I imagine the writer reaching out across time, and us sitting down to dinner together.”

<i>A Waitress at Duval's Restaurant</i> (1875) by Auguste Renoir depicts a waitress who worked at one of several Parisian restaurants established by a butcher named Duval. These “offered a limited and affordable menu,” according to an 1881 guidebook, and were likely visited by Renoir.Or take Edward Hopper’s Tables for Ladies (1930). On first glance, it is a simple scene of a restaurant: a waitress arranging a window display, another at the cash register, a couple dining. Yet its title tells of an era when restaurants were bringing in separate dining areas for a new wave of upwardly mobile, independent women—who may otherwise have been assumed to be prostitutes. The abundant display of food in the window was designed to whet the appetites of the few who could afford such luxury at the height of the Great Depression.

Joachim Beuckelaer’s <i>Fish Market</i> (1568) represents a change in the way still-life paintings were created—with Beuckelaer rejecting the trend of capturing purely religious themes.“In this one elegant painting, we have two stories of burgeoning gender equality and food scarcity: a particular point in history captured through food and art. To my mind, you could come to The Met and eat at its restaurant, but you will find the greatest feast for the senses in its galleries.”   

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Nione Meakin
is a UK-based writer whose work has appeared in The Guardian, VICE, Marie Claire, and Grazia

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