Art, Food, and Symbolism within Portofino’s

Excellent food takes time. Deep within the walls of Portofino’s Italian and Greek restaurant exists a beautiful painting by Sandra Babb that embodies this very saying. Juxtapositioning age with quality, the very nature of European Cuisine is embodied within this painting.

This painting consists of an older man with a glass of wine on the table. The glass of wine symbolizes how quality takes time. Similarly, fruit turns into wine after the passage of time. In this same vein, really good Italian and Greek food takes time-the gyros simmering in the kitchen, the fragrant Alfredo sauce being stirred. Thousands of years of civilization go into every dish. There is no substitute for such a high level of quality.

The painting also depicts the older gentleman holding a bazouki, or Greek musical instrument. This representation expresses how an older person can better express the changes of music over time. In essence, the old and new are being compared as well as contrasted within the painting. Like artwork, food can also be considered an artform, and the chef expressing his experience through food needs time to learn, express, and develop his skills.

The painting also includes crosses on the floor. These crosses arguably represent the crucifiction of Christ and his ultimate resurrection. The crosses represent the rebirth of the arts following their decay by economic downturns as well as COVID-19. The painting also represents the celebration of food and culture in Chattanooga, following these challenging times. Like a phoenix, good food flourishes even from the ashes. Following this same line of thinking, a yellow patch on the table represents the light and hope of a better, more promising future.

As a final touch, the painting also encompasses money at the end of the bazouki. Basically, the money represents tips from clients. Symbolically, the money represents survival of and through the arts, even in times of adversity. Despite the hardships and challenges currently facing society, music will still play and enjoyment can still be found. One just has to look for it.

In essence, this painting represents a post-economic downturn, post Covid-19 artistic manifestation. It signifies how beauty, art and good food can emerge as a confluence, even after drastic economic downturns and a world-wide pandemic. To see this painting for yourself and to perhaps formulate your own artististic interpretation, please go to 6407 Ringgold Rd, in East Ridge, TN. When there, allow your taste buds to experience the food while your mind understands the painting. The two together will create quite the experience.

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