Peas and Carrots: A Study in the Absurdly Simple

Green earrings on an orange canvas.

Fried rice is a blank canvas.  It’s simple and can go in multiple directions-Chinese, Korean, Thai.  One might encounter a few surprises such as Spam or pineapple, which result from cultural adaptations or necessity.  However, fried rice in and of itself is a preposterously uncomplicated dish. 

Earlier this week, fried rice seemed the logical choice for lunch.  Quick, easy, and inexpensive.  So, I stopped at a restaurant called Hong Kong Cuisine that specializes in Malaysian food and is located in the food court of a Korean grocery store.  Somehow, the combination works. 

While eating the rice, I noticed that it contained a substantial amount of frozen peas and carrots.

A plate of fried rice with peas and carrots.

Both fried rice and frozen peas and carrots are pedestrian foods by themselves.  However, the combination struck me as peculiar-fusion cuisine at its most fundamental.

So, I began research into fusion food, the origin of peas and carrots, and fried rice history.  In addition, themes of resourcefulness, adapting to a new culture and creativity popped into the scheme.  What prompted the food stand owner to introduce the uniquely American side dish of peas and carrots into the pan-Asian food culture?

The research took me this far:  The United States Department of Agriculture wrote fifteen pages of acceptable standards for frozen peas and carrots in 1950.

While I was conducting this sweeping investigation into peas and carrots, the phone rang.  A friend of a friend wanted to commission a painting.  A big painting.  Forty-eight by seventy-two inches (122 x 152 cm).  Moreover, it was a paying project.

I painted an eighteen by twenty-four inch (46×61 cm) study for the client.  The focus of the initial study consisted of several layers of burgundy, Alizarin crimson and bright red.  I sent the client the painting and they asked if I could warm up the reds a little. 

So, I played with colors on a twelve by twelve inch (30×30 cm) canvas.  The layers of red and yellow turned out on the orangish side, similar in hue to a carrot.

A canvas painted orange.

This final orange brought back memories of the peas and carrots in the fried rice.  In turn, the orange facing me raised the question, “How can I evoke an image of peas and carrots?”  A basic interpretation that captures the essence of an illogical vegetable combination.  Consequently, minimalism seemed the best fit.   

Agnes Martin created minimalist paintings, the most famous being her grid paintings, which critics described as “absurdly simple.”  Martin sometimes filled the spaces in the grids with dashes of color, either to complement or contrast the base color.

However, Martin’s 1962 painting “Little Sister” utilized brass nails instead of paint to fill the grid.  With this in mind, I went to a dollar store, bought five boxes of push pins and picked out the green pins. 

Green push pins on an orange canvas.

Nonetheless, the pins lacked the sparkle and pizazz I was seeking.  I decided that the twinkle of emerald green stud earrings would add the necessary burst of color.  Since I needed around fifty pairs of earrings, I figured a wholesaler would have the earrings in quantity. 

Wholesalers demand a retailer’s license or resale tax ID just to get in the door.  However, the expression, “I’m paying cash” tends to ease the door open.  Nevertheless, each wholesaler I visited didn’t have fifty pairs of the same earrings.  Most told me the most they had in stock was two dozen pairs but they could order fifty sets.  And, I didn’t want to wait.

As a result, circumstances forced me to adapt as well as become resourceful, similar to the cooks who added the peas and carrots to the fried rice.  Since I couldn’t get fifty pairs of the same earrings, a variety would suffice to create a “peas in the pod” effect.

I went to dollar stores and discount outlets but none of them had fifty pairs of any earrings, much less fifty pairs of green earrings.  Desperation and a nothing lose attitude sent me into the Only 2-U beauty supply store.  While primarily a wig and manicure supply store, Only 2-U also had racks and racks of costume jewelry.

The earrings came in packs of twelve with varying sizes and colors.  As a result, I had to buy twenty-five packs and pick out the green ones, just like sorting through the push pins.  On the other hand, each pack cost only $1.99 which proved cheaper than buying fifty pairs of the same earrings at the wholesaler. 

I returned to the studio and replaced the pins with the earrings.  However, the finished project didn’t turn out like expected.  The earrings lacked the shimmering twinkle that I was hoping to achieve.

Green earrings on an orange canvas.

After all of the running around and scavenging, the result turned out to be “absurdly simple.” 

However, the fried rice with the peas and carrots that inspired the piece didn’t turn out as expected either.  It was absurdly delicious. 

5 thoughts on “Peas and Carrots: A Study in the Absurdly Simple

  1. All I ever put in fried rice is peas and carrats You have made me think. Spam and Pineapple??
    Laugh because… Why not??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s fusion food at its finest Mr. Ohh. Think Hawaii meets Korea in Amish country for a smorgasbord. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just never think think that much about food 😂🤣😂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Can I just say, I love your writing style. You might have convinced me to check out the rest of your blog 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Evet and thanks for reading!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close