Taking a Closer Look

“Look at these leaves: they look artificial!” exclaimed Older Daughter as we brushed past this planter box after breakfast.

Younger Daughter had a break this morning, so we decided to have breakfast with her Sister on Campus before classes started for the day.

This week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge is Structure, where we are invited to take a moment to take a moment to notice the structure of things around


Structure2As we examined the leaves in discussion, I noticed how beautifully & delicately formed they were, and how there was a row of tiny leaves growing along the centre stalk, a detail I certainly would have overlooked if Older Daughter had not called our attention to the plant.

It is interesting that makers of artificial plants have created such life-like products that even real plants start to look like their perfect artificial counterparts.

This reminds me of a conversation we’ve had in our household about artificial flavours.  We spoke of vanillin, in particular, which is an artificial form of vanilla extract.  We tend to think of artificial flavourings as cheaper versions, but why should it be?  In molecular gastronomy,  we explore the essence of food as molecules.   If we can isolate the molecules that form a flavour, should it matter whether the source is natural or man-made?  What if this molecular man-made product is of high quality, and not some cheap imitation, would it make us feel better about using it?

It seems that the word artificial has received undeserved negative press.  The origin of the word comes from various sources.  In Old French artificiel means “not natural or spontaneous”.  In Latin,  artificialis means “of or belonging to art”, and artificium, means “a work of art or skill”.  So, when we say describe something as artificial, we are calling it a man-made work of art or skill.

Going back to plants; Loving Husband and Older Daughter are blessed with green thumbs.  I am not.  I have been known to kill many a cacti.  Artificial plants are a much safer bet for me.

Having said this, we continue to buy expensive natural vanilla extracts for our baking, and we still do not have artificial plants in the home.



8 Replies to “Taking a Closer Look”

  1. I love admiring the details in nature! 🙂

    The comment about the artificial creations become a standard for naturally occurring things is an interesting thought.

    I wonder if there will come a time when the differences are imperceptible! Even now, a lot of it is guesswork. Ha ha.

    PS I just learnt yesterday that broccoli is actually a ‘man-made’ vegetable that did not occur naturally!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve given me something to think about with this post. I’ve long turned up my nose at artificial plants, but have not nothing of usually artificial flavoring – except for vanilla, which my mother taught me had to be the real stuff even if its more expensive. But “a man made work of art or skill” sounds more admirable than not. I don’t know what to think. You’ve created a real dilemma for me!


    1. Thank you for choosing to think on this. I, too, for a long time thought real stuff was the right stuff. Until Older Daughter challenged my paradigms with her interest in molecular cuisine; she isn’t particularly keen about the food itself, but the principals upon which they are founded, especially the works of Herve This. So, all this got me ruminating …

      Liked by 1 person

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