What inspires you?
It seems I like to find inspiration in everything I see – whether it be vast expanses of natural scenery, fresh tastes in my kitchen, travels to experience new sights and sounds, little details of beauty or simply a stroll through my RSS reader to see what my favorite food photographers, writers, and blogging friends have been up to. Sometimes I remember an emotion, and want to create a dish that evokes similar feelings and memories – or I see a photo that moves me so much I am compelled to cook something that emulates how I felt about that image. Or sometimes, I just love the simplicity of nature and try to bring freshness and vibrance to my table.
I think inspiration can be everywhere – anywhere, really. And that our perception of the world is based on the culmination and amalgamation of each of our own unique life experiences. That every event leading up to this point has helped shaped me into who I am and each new experience, sight, sound, and the part I played in it becomes incorporated into my overall approach and outlook on life.
But sometimes in this fast paced competitive world, it seems like we all need to achieve certain things, have certain items, possess certain traits in order to be “successful” (what does that word mean anyways? and is your definition the same as mine?), and find ourselves with certain pressures of conformity – and it’s no different in the blogging world either. We should post this many times per week – these colors work best – promote yourself on social media without being too annoying about it – use diffused light, never use a flash on photos (I vow to break this one, in fact there’s flash in most of the pics in this post), make sure you’ve got your recipes in the stringent requirements of hrecipe formatting to please the Google gods…the list goes on.
Sometimes amongst all these preconceived requirements for success, it’s hard not to feel like another pea squished amidst all the others in the pod – and then where does that inspiration go?
Sometimes it’s easy to feel a bit lost in the “noise”, even if you’ve been doing this for awhile.
So how do I cope? I’ve learned (and am still learning) to have two things. Patience. And a sense of self.
Patience that all things take time – and the longer you stick with something, the more likely you’ll get the hang of what you are doing and be able to build whatever it is you are dreaming to create. Patience is something I search in vain for some days – those are the days when it’s good to go take a walk, clear my head, and remember there are other important parts of life
But what about that voice, where does that sense of self come in? If there’s anything I learned by cooking, writing, and photographing, it’s to do everything from the heart. To absorb what inspires me, and to incorporate it into my very soul – and then, when it comes time to create, to take everything I have been keeping in the back of my head and let it go – let every essence of myself free, to just be and see where my mind takes me.
Have I found my voice? I am working on it – I’ve learned that having a vision before I ever turn on the stove, press my shutter, or type a word on a page is a result of remembering those inspirations, and rather than simply recreating them, blending them into my own interpretation of the world. Because how I can truly be me if I am merely emulating someone else? It is easiest when I write because I swear I write exactly how I think (I’m sure you’ve noticed the stream of consciousness feel to my rambling posts, haha). And the actual food I cook is all a big game of “hmm I wonder what this will turn into” lol. But the photos, that’s where it is tougher – and where that patience needs to come back in…it may be slow but I’m learning to observe, remember, and then later try to use it in my own vision – because I have visions, preconceived ideas – it’s just all a matter of executing them in a way that says “this is how I see the world”
I’ve learned that the camera, fresh ingredients, and my keyboard are all tools to express myself in various mediums. Sometimes it’s complex and involved, and sometimes it’s outrageously simple. This pea salad? Definitely on the simple end – I saw these gorgeous vegetables at the market, and knew there was a beautiful Summery fresh dish waiting to be created. I remembered that freshness and the scents of all the produce in the stands when I staged my images and made a photo. And even now, I can see myself walking amongst the stands, in one of the facets of Swiss society that I find myself most comfortable – because if there is anywhere to find inspiration, it’s the market seeing beautiful produce.
This is my favorite salad of late – fresh peas from the market, shelled and blanched, a few sliced carrots and radishes, a little grated cheese, and a sweet mustard dressing. It’s the first day of Summer, and the weather is responding in kind – the sun shining brightly, the heat radiating through, and eating a dish that is piping hot just seems anathema to us in our very non A/C’ed apartment. So instead, we buy whatever looks good at the market, chop it up, and throw it in a bowl with some dressing and call it a meal.
Ha can you tell I’ve been on a salad kick lately? I actually love salads, which I know sounds funny from a person who isn’t usually a fan of lettuce or dark leafy greens like kale… but salad to me is just a term for veggies etc. mixed together & dressed with something. We eat bean salads, tomato salads, avocado salads, pea salads, heck even watermelon salads! If it can be eaten cold and has fresh ingredients, I’ve probably made a salad out of it. However, peas are quite possibly my favorite vegetable in the entire world. I throw them into everything. Pasta, salads, soups, I’ll even eat them raw. Though salads are one of my favorite ways to enjoy them.
One thing I love is that I never quite know what the salad will turn into until it’s in front of me ready to be eaten – the epitome dish for improvising, totally customizable for taste/whatever’s in the fridge that needs to be eaten/whatever’s available at the moment. Each ends up having its own personality and individuality, and every now and then I find a combination of flavor and texture that I want to make again and again and again. And just as ink on a page or light in an image creates the scene, so too do flavors, even in a simple bowl of salad. The more I play, the more I find one medium inspiring creation in another, and that voice, that essence that is me, finally starting to speak.
Prep Time: 30min
Total Time: 15min
1 kg sugar snap peas, shelled and blanched
3 small carrots, trimmed and peeled
1 bunch radishes, washed and trimmed
handful grated parmesan cheese
your favorite honey mustard dressing
salt & pepper to taste
1. Add the peas to a large mixing bowl.
2. Slice the carrots and radishes into thin rounds, and add to the peas.
3. Toss in a handful of grated parmesan cheese.
4. Mix together with your favorite honey mustard dressing, and season with salt & pepper if desired. Enjoy!