Let me clarify.
I come to this discussion as an artist(university trained with gallery representation), painter, printmaker, food lover, diner and cook. When I speak philosophically about art and what constitutes art and great art, it is from these perspectives.
The intention to which I refer in the creation of a work of art is to make art. I began my post referencing the distiction between art and craft. This is where the intention comes in. In other words...the difference between art and craft is simply that the person creating the work intends it to be art. Therefore, when I wrote "the clearer the intention is in the work, the greater the depth of meaning and evocation" I did not mean the particular references in the work ie. personal or political or any other. Simply that the intention was to make ART. That was criterion #1. The same goes for the creation of great food.
This criterion constitutes an aspect of the art/food analogy because if the creation of a dish or meal is SOLELY to make a profit then criterion #1 has not been met. (The "lets not go there" applied because raw materials found in nature present a bit of a problem because no one created them, that was my point).
With regard to influence...of course not all art can make an impact but, heirarchically, art that does has a higher standing on the art heirarchy than art that doesn't. And an impact is time sensitive. It may take generations for this impact to be felt. I would argue that the Arepa Lady does make an impact because numbers alone do not determine this. She is keeping alive the experience of truly great arepas in a culture that might not otherwise have this experience. Part of the so called food revolution in this country is made up of many Arepa Ladies and their public.
I also stand by "the test of time". You may not care for the work of a particular artist but if they lived and worked four hundred years ago and you know their name and have seen even reproductions of their work then they have stood the test of time, at least on some level.
And I heartily disagree with "all art eventually ceases to be a vital part of culture". I don't see any difference between Beethoven's music when it was performed during his lifetime than when it is performed now. The meaning of the work changes as the culture changes but it does not necessarily cease to be a part of it.
I think the analogy itself has certain flaws because there are intrinsic differences between the two components of the analogy but there is enough of a parallel for this discussion to have merit.
Yes, life and art and food are ephemeral. But the unexamined life is not worth living, or so I've heard.
For chowhounds, perhaps (and just perhaps) the unexamined food is not worth eating because deliciousness is such a complex experience or er... an incredibly simple one, or.. who knows, not me....