top cut apple star pattern

One of the central principles of improvisation we follow is to turn things on their side, or upside-down, a simple shift that often yields unexpected results. It’s a practice you can do in your imagination just about anywhere, and in practice with everyday things.

Recently, instead of the usual way of cutting an apple (slicing it in quarters, coring it, slicing each quarter), we shifted our cutting method to unexpected effects. This exercise yielded charming visuals, a slightly different taste —how a food is cut effects how it hits the tongue — and the illusion of ‘more’ apple  useful for our dieting selves.

First we placed an apple on its side on a cutting board, with its stem end away from us…


…and thinly sliced it with an old Japanese cleaver

apple side slicing process

…and found we got not only interesting visuals —a center cut of an apple like a botanical print — 15 apple slices that tasted curiously different than traditionally-sliced apples. We felt like we got a lot more apple for the buck.

side sliced apple

We took another apple and placed it on its side on the cutting board, this time with the stem end facing right…


…We discovered that cutting it yielded yet another visual effect, and taste…

top sliced apple process

…the core formed a charming star pattern. It was definitely more fun to eat.

Stacking our apple slices made for an appealing presentation, that we just might do if serving someone an apple for dessert.

side sliced apple stack


Our apple slicing experiments remind of us of the great Edward de Bono’s Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step, a book we open daily, for some insight into “shifting” our view.

Such a simple thing, to turn things on their side, or imagine them upside-down…

Related posts: the question to ask when you make a mistake
improv alternatives to traditional flower arrangements
grapefruit: yoko ono’s book of instructions


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4 replies on “design + diet lessons in an oddly-cut apple

  1. I just discovered the same thing, only with apple CORES. Rather than cutting apples to leave as little flesh on the core as possible, I cut them so that each piece is flat-sided for quick slicing, but also so that I can turn the meaty cores into a sweet and sour syrup (agrodolce) that gives me a fantastic fall cocktail, among other delicious things. Here’s a bit more, if you’re interested: I love this blog. Thanks!

  2. I LOVE your idea to use the cores to make a syrup: using every bit. I usually just eat them, despite childhood warnings that an apple tree will grow in my stomach.

  3. I throw nice-looking apple cores in the “clippings container” in my freezer that gets made into vegetable stock when full.

  4. my variation is to use a coring tool first, then cut slices across the apple from stem end to the bottom. then i take the bottom slice and cut it in half and place the flesh sides against each other and tuck these two into the stack of slices at the top making it look like there is a leaf sticking up. (looks like the last picture only cut the other way) my kids love having an apple server to them like this.


    or, a safer method – set the apple upright and take a slice off the side. then lay the apple on its side on this flat section and slice cross-wise – it won’t roll now. i take the piece i sliced off the side and cut it in half to make the leaf that i tuck in the top.

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