I love to cook. I love to eat. I enthusiastically take badly composed photos. Sometimes I even take notes. Unfortunately, I can only remember to do one or two of these at any one time.
Having recently written about some of the more unusual meals I’ve eaten I thought I’d balance it out with a post showing some of the better meals. Looking back through some food photography I realised there are many reasons I’m not cut out to be a food blogger.
We were recently invited to go and take afternoon tea by the Park Hyatt Beijing.
The restaurant is on the 63rd floor with a view over the whole of the city below. It has a rare view of the CCTV tower from above.
I was too engrossed with tea and cakes and sandwiches with the crusts cut off to think about taking a photo of the scenery.
It wasn’t until half way through, and having eaten all the hot items that it occurred to me to document the least Chinese experience I’ve had in a few months. This results in photos like this ->
Too busy eating
I’ve got lots of photographs of amazing meals. They all seem to have one thing in common – there’s a bit (or a lot!) missing.
DaDong Duck Restaurant in Beijing is more of an experience than a fine dining destination. The duck is prepared and cooked to make the skin crisp and much less fatty. It’s then dipped in sugar and melts in the mouth. This was such a new taste sensation it wasn’t until the pitiful fruit plate arrived at the end it occurred to me that a photo of the duck might have been relevant.
Too busy cooking
I’ve taken time out to learn to cook in some odd places around the world. Sometimes this has been on organised courses, such as in Penang, and other times just by being inquisitive.
Chatting to a hotel owner in India he was only too happy for me to help cook lunch for the staff. The single chef in the two burner kitchen showed me how to make naan bread using the traditional oven, plus we prepared a couple of delicious lentil curries from scratch. I was enjoying it too much to think about taking a photo until the food had left the kitchen.
Too busy learning
In Xishuangbanna, the best restaurant we visited was reached by walking through the kitchen. Not only did I stop and watch the meal being prepared, but we were invited to try the equally complex meal that the chef had created for her family. I’d barely seen any of the ingredients before, from water centipedes to lichen and the still unidentified herbs that imparted such strong flavours to the fish.
Sometimes I’m just hungry. My first visit to Austria I was introduced to all sorts of new snack foods. One of the most welcome was a käsewurst, a combination of two of my favourite foods – cheese and meat. After a long day walking round town I was happy just to sit down and eat.
Sometimes I don’t know exactly what I’m eating
This happens a lot in Asia. A street stall with no menu that serves mystery meat in a spicy sauce often tastes good but it’s tricky to identify some of the ingredients until a recognisable head or claw pops out.
Sometimes I don’t want to know exactly what I’m eating
“That looks like a rat.”
“Funny you should say that…”
Oftentimes I don’t feel it’s appropriate
This is the biggest problem I have. Why should everyone else round the table wait for me to mess around taking photos? Living in London and having a job that involved eating some decent meals it was quite common to attend restaurant openings.
It was easy to spot the table of food bloggers. Six people, six DSLRs on the table. No-one gets to eat until everyone has finished taking photos. I enjoy reading their blogs, but I enjoy eating hot, fresh food even more, so something had to give.Also, people repeatedly taking flash photography in a dimly lit restaurant should get thrown out so the rest of the customers can enjoy their meal. One of the best meals I had last year was an Imperial style banquet at the home of a Peking Opera singer. Wonderful, but as dusk turned to night it might be best just to enjoy the food by candlelight. This is tricky when there’s some chap with a telephoto lens more suited to photographing animals on the savannah, standing beside our table taking photos of his food from across the room.
Any tips for better food photography would be appreciated, beyond trying not to eat it first!