Photography and food, as art forms, are a bit of opposites. Food – grown, prepared, cooked, eaten, enjoyed – like all the good things in life, is fleeting; the moment is there, the bliss happens, and before you realize it is all gone, forever. Food is the medium through which our senses become alive for an instant or two and we learn to touch the universe in new ways – through flavor, aromas, and friends.
Photography however, much like our most wishful versions of ourselves, fights the ephemeral quality that is the very nature of such moments in time, doing its best to keep and hold on to every moment and treasure it forever, lest our memories become feeble and weak and forget those experiences that mark and define not just our lives, but our very identities. Each precious instant of life builds upon the last, and we become the culmination of all of those experiences put together – and maybe, just maybe, if we can capture and preserve those moments in some way, we can slow down time, make it stop, and keep those moments alive in some form forever.
Food and photography together seem a bit counter to each other because they live in such opposing interpretations of time – but I think that is one of the reasons why food photography is so beautiful – it can do the impossible and turn a mere instant into a lifetime, as well as the other way around, transforming an entire state of being into a mere morsel to be consumed. It is the dichotomy between these paradigms for me that brings so much interest and fascination with the idea of one, photographing food to preserve its memory and two, creating photos with food in order to recreate those infinitesimal experiences in time.
Time is a funny yet heady thing. As Americans, we have a peculiar fascination with all things old and ancient, simply because the idea that something from earlier than that famous day the Mayflower first landed on the shores of Cape Cod can actually be seen and touched is a bit abstract to us, especially those of us who grew up in “old” towns that would be considered “new” in other countries, and where risk of obsolescence incessantly plagues nearly everything in our society and culture. I’ve seen my fair share of old buildings and châteaux living in Europe now, and yet stepping into a 600 year old candlelit cave while visiting La Bourgogne en France last week I still feel was a bit of an otherworldly experience. How is it possible that time was literally able to stop for this place, all these hundreds of years and stay as it always was? How many moments transpired between these walls below the ground? What stories I am sure could be told…
We spent our vacation doing what we love best – a week away from our normal life, in a new land, with new friends, exploring old traditions and cultures and food. We toured vineyards, explored castles, saw abbeys, had dinner at the auberge of our favorite lively & charismatic vigneron, spent the day with a wine producer and saw first hand how much care and heart goes into producing the grapes and vines of the region, enjoyed our first Michelin-starred dinner, practiced a lot of le français, ate stinky cheeses that melted like cream in your mouth, learned of local legends and charms, watched shooting stars fly over silent rows of vines, enjoyed macaron cakes, learned how a mere 200m in a plot of land can make all the difference in the flavor of a wine, and made new friends with whom to share so many moments.
La Bourgogne has captured my heart in a way few places ever have. The food alone is worth writing books about – the coq au vin, beouf bourguignon, escargots, the many many dishes à la moutarde, the charolais beef, the oeufs en meurette, the jambon persillé, the epoisses, and black currants, cassis, and of course le vin. And the setting and culture is almost enough to make one want to just pick up all their bags and stay in the region as long as possible. It’s all quite romantic, really.
Time stood still for a beautiful glorious week and then in the blink of an eye all flashed and was over. Ended, finit. Faster than I could even realize. That seems to be the way of it in life as well. If we don’t take time to treasure those moments as they are happening, all too soon we notice they have passed us by and are over. I fight time by photographing the beauty I see, hoping to preserve it forever. I think maybe if I can capture just the right scene, I can keep and remember forever all of the laughter and smiles and friendships and moments. And the amazing world that I fell in love with in those short seven days.
But we all know that all good things must come to and end, and sunrises don’t last forever. But they do come again. And next time, we’ll make new memories, more friends, and fall in love all over again. With the area, the wine, the food, the people, and each other. And sometimes, a moment is just best left unphotographed, to keep the mind stretching and yearning to experience once more, and draw us back to those familiar places. And until that next time, we can remember how important it is to live life to the fullest, with each other, with love in our hearts and food in our bellies. And we can cook dishes that become echoes of memories to remind us that we must return again and create new moments together. Because in the end, celebrating and cherishing our lives together is the most romantic instant of all.
It’s been five years since I first met you honey, and every day has been better than the last. Here is to hopefully many many more, exploring the world with each other – whether we recreate past memories with each meal we cook, or preserve future ones with our photographs.
Adapted from Molly Stevens, Bon Apétit December 2007
Prep Time: 5 minutes to chop potatoes
Total Time: 1 hr depending on the size of potatoes
- 2kg fingerling potatoes, chopped in half if on the large side
- 3-4 generous spoonfuls white wine dijon mustard
- 2 tbs. butter
- 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tbs. white wine
- 1 tsp. salt
1. Preheat the oven to 425F (220C). Add potatoes to a large mixing bowl.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together mustard, butter, olive oil, garlic, wine, and salt. Dress the cut potatoes in the large mixing bowl.
3. Lay out potatoes on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil so none are on top of any others. Bake for about 30 minutes, turn over, and bake for 30 minutes more or until tender enough to pierce with a fork.
Also submitted to – Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays