By Tim Hazell
“Everything takes form when we lay ourselves open to the uprush of the unconscious.”
Odilon Reon, nineteenth-century French symbolist painter
In his painting “The Uncertainty of the Poet”, a 1913 masterpiece of Giorgio de Chirico’s metaphysical style, each element has symbolic meaning. A plaster cast of the torso of Aphrodite and a bunch of ripe bananas are positioned in front of classical arcades bordering a disconcerting town square. The bananas suggest an immediate vulnerability and a passing train in the extreme distance is a metaphor for contemporary power in motion. Conventional time and space are undermined by the use of distorted perspective evoking a parallel world viewed through an inconceivable lens. Monumental shadows sweep across the pictorial space adding to the allure of inexplicable dread.
De Chirico (1888-1978) and futurist painter Carlos Carra founded a movement called the Scuola Metafisica (metaphysical painting) that was known for its chimeral effects and haunting imagery. De Chirico’s enigmatic, fantasy-permeated canvases deeply influenced the surrealists of his day.
Masterworks produced between 1909 and 1919 are characterized by dream-like juxtapositions of images and anthropomorphic forms. “Space-charged” urban landscapes were inspired by the bright, hard daylight of Mediterranean cities. Over time, the artist turned his attention to creating scenes of cluttered, claustrophobic storerooms, frequently inhabited by mannequinlike hybrid figures.
The following recipe presents a textural weave, an integration of truly individualistic elements that create unity and diversity combined in an artful way. Aesthetically, the bacon-wrapped cauliflower engages our senses while a green onion/spinach filling provides contrast, surprise, and subtle elegance.
1/4 cup extravirgin olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
Kosher or sea salt
1 head cauliflower, leaves removed and stem trimmed so cauliflower lays flat, but still intact
1 (10oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed, water squeezed out and chopped
2 large eggs, beaten
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup shredded cheddar
4 oz. cream cheese, softened and cubed
1/2 cup panko or regular breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 lb. thinly sliced bacon
Preheat oven to 450°. Bring 8 cups water, oil, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil in a large pot. Add cauliflower and bring back to a boil. Reduce to a gentle simmer, placing a plate on top of the cauliflower to keep it submerged. Simmer until a knife easily inserts into the center, about 12 minutes. Using 2 slotted spoons or a mesh spider, transfer cauliflower to a small rimmed baking sheet. Let cool. Meanwhile, combine spinach, eggs, green onions, garlic, cheddar, cream cheese, panko, and Parmesan and place in a piping bag with a ¾inch tip.
Position cooled cauliflower stem side up on the rimmed baking sheet. Pipe filling between stalks of florets. Flip cauliflower stem side down. Lay strips of bacon, slightly overlapping the strips, over cauliflower, tucking ends of strips into bottom of cauliflower. Roast until evenly golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and cut in wedges. Vegetarian version: leave out the bacon and shorten baking time.