Inspiration: Middletown Caprese Salad

Inspired by my blog post on my farm-to-table version of a caprese salad, I explored how to visualize this recipe in a number of different ways to convey a variety of ideas, including: origin, components and hierarchy, and national meaning.

First, in a Slow Food tactic of connecting with food production on a personal and meaningful level, I plotted the geographic locations of the ingredients onto the globe using Google Maps.  This representation illuminates the recipe’s transnationalism, by demonstrating the production, growth, or historical origins of each ingredient, from my backyard (basil) to the etymology of salad (Rome).  For a funny picture of an Italian chef, click here.

Constellation - Geographic Locations
Constellation – Geographic Locations

Next, I did a quick Google search for some ideas on how to represent this recipe in different ways.  Here’s what I came up with.

First, blogger Gratinee presents a visually deconstructed version of the recipe with whole ingredients, which highlights the recipe’s original components rather than the process, order, or hierarchy of the final product.

Second, Drew Heffron at Need Supply Co. sought a new version of the pancake, and in doing so, offered a new way to visualize the precise components and hierarchy of the updated recipe.

While recipes are typically comprised of a list of measured components (usually in order what you mix, when), Heffron’s visualization serves more as an archive, with snapshots of the ingredients about to be mixed together in the bowl.  He states:

This recipe came about from a boring obsession with oatmeal. I was fed up with bland wheat flour based pancakes that relied on syrup for their flavor. I had a revelation: to make oat flour with oats and a coffee grinder. The banana give a natural sweetness so that syrup is not a necessity. The base recipe is below but feel free to throw in fruit, pumpkin puree, ground flax, etc. In some parts these are called pancakes, but I like using the term flapjacks because they’re made with oats.

Although he doesn’t give an explanation for his pie chart, the image demonstrates by weight the hierarchy of the top ingredients to those in the smaller slices on bottom.  Since his intention is to create flapjacks with more self-sufficient flavor, I can only assume that these more heavily weighted ingredients on top – the oats, cinnamon, banana, and vanilla – illustrate the four main flavor profiles that make up the final product of his culinary concoction.

Third, I sought two different perspectives on transnationalism.  One of the classic representations of transnational food are food flags, in which you take quintessential ingredients of a particular national food culture and display them in a way that also represents that country’s flag.  Although I’ll break this down on a later date (because I think these representations are SO AWESOME), Italy’s is just about the easiest one to do: green, white, and red.


This national combination is still apparent when ordering the Italian classic – the Margherita pizza, named for Queen Margherita in 1889 according to Italy Magazine.

As I noted in my blog post on my version of the Caprese salad (another Italian flag representation), a quick Google search will turn up more than 800,000 caprese salad recipes.  In thinking about international adaptations of recipes, as visualized in this infographic by LONO Creative, how could I also depict the transnationalism of the Caprese Salad, on my plate and in historical origin?  Is there a way to use an infographic to sort out the different varieties of caprese salad?

This fascinating graphic by LONO creative analyzes how different countries weight the components of pancakes differently, with Canada’s use of lard offering a resoundingly unique taste.

I also couldn’t resist sharing a recipe of Canada’s classic pancake version, so try it out here.

Stay tuned to see my visualization of the Middletown Caprese Salad.

Published by keralovell

American Studies scholar/historian at the University of Utah, Asia Campus and blogger of my research on urban studies, food, visuality, and social justice and the connections between them.

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