Eggs beat cheese at MoMA's 'Counter Space' show
Some of you may have heard about the Museum of Modern Art's recent show on modern kitchen design. It's a lovely show, with several interesting and important objects like architect Margarete Schuette-Lihotzky's Frankfurt Kitchen.
I ran across it by accident this weekend, and of course, I had to stop in and check on the cheese. Naively, I thought there'd be a lot of it on display.
What could be more modernist than cheese? It's a simple, malleable, self-sufficient product that comes in an array of colors and simple geometric forms. It doesn't need complex preparation to enjoy, travels well, is generally affordable, and is overall the very vision of an efficient, materials-oriented food.
But, while there were some serving tools, there wasn't even a single cheese in sight. The best I could do was Donald Brun's lovely butter poster. Hardly the showing I wanted.
No, the clear standout from the show was something else from the dairy case. The egg was there in force: the distinctive yellow on white double circle of the raw or fried egg, to be precise. And since I'm writing my next column on eggs, I can appreciate the attraction. Even more than a waxed Gouda or a white-jacketed Camembert, eggs are self-contained little worlds. The simple pointed form of the whole egg and the target-like yolk-on-albumen arrangement signify the creative powers of nature and man, respectively. Although as this show makes pains to illustrate, it's woman's creative powers that were simultaneously celebrated in and relegated to the kitchen for most of the 20th century.
Wherever I looked, there were eggs: eggs in paintings, eggs as models, even eggs as color scheme. And whether it was the curator's own tastes, or an artifact of demand or industrial design, cheese was nowhere to be found. A relief, then, to head to their award-winning cafeteria, Cafe 2. Why look at cheese, anyway?