Just How Photogenic is Your Soup?
Foodie Photographer? Picture-taking Foodie? What’s my rule about taking photos of food and posting casual restaurant reviews? I thought it was that if the food was both extra tasty and extra pretty it might be featured in a post. Yesterday I think I violated my guidelines—but just a little. It was that French onion soup from Artichoke Café that did me in. It was so photogenic—all glossy and rich-looking. However, as mentioned, neither Patricia nor I liked it. Not necessarily bad soup, just not to our taste. But still…it was so…pretty! So I took the picture. And posted it.
Today’s Times read my mind: “Your Eyes Are Happier Than Your Stomach” (in Critic’s Notebook by Pete Wells/Dining section) is all about that very thing. Not long ago at a restaurant that regularly tweets photos of dishes as lush as one of Monet’s lily ponds, I found myself poking cautiously at perfect circles of glossy black sauce, discs of potato purée that looked like white roses and cylinders of gnocchi so tiny they seemed to have been pushed out of a drinking straw. Tiny, delicate flowers and tender sprigs of leaves gently rested here and there as if a woodland nymph had casually tossed them from a basket before running off to play hide-and-seek with a den of baby field mice. The dish was definitely ready for its close-up. It was also, by and large, very cold — no surprise given how long it must have taken to squeeze and tweeze everything into position.
Not for the first time, I wondered: Am I supposed to eat this or take its picture? I did neither. Instead, I stored the memory away in my growing files on something I’ve come to think of as camera cuisine. A side effect of the digital age in food photography, camera cuisine is any dish that was inspired by a picture or aspires to be one. Like any genre of cooking, camera cuisine varies widely in quality, but in its purest form it is both exquisitely photogenic and peculiarly bland and lifeless. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/09/dining/dishes-worthy-of-instagram-but-not-your-appetite.html?
Photographing your food is great fun. It doesn’t move, therefore blurring some key component of your perfect photo; it doesn’t let its smile slip; it enjoys close-ups; and it gives you something to do during the meal if the conversation isn’t quite up to fine dining standards.