Radishes cut to look like roses, watermelons carved into fruit baskets, apples made into swans, cakes frosted to look like dolls——when did this game of food masquerade start and how? This essay speculates about food's on-going history of disguise, of pretending to be what it's not. From the Renaissance courtier's delight in confections disguised as beasts, birds, and other fancies to our present day fascination with Japanese bento lunch boxes, food masquerade would seem to be a fanciful part of the history of food.
Food masquerade injects some levity into our growing seriousness about food, our suspicion that most supermarket food is riddled with toxins and bad karma. It proposes that eating food should be fun. Food masquerade also gets to the very heart of artistic visual representation: the magical transformation of paint, clay or wood into an image of something else. It is a synecdoche for art itself.