A picture can evoke your deepest memories, transporting you to a different time, or a different dinner table.
Shanna Mallon’s post on photographing food, as well as Jacqui’s from Happy Jack Eats, got me thinking about why I personally photograph my food.
For a while, I got a little stumped when trying to think of an answer beyond the obvious – to put photos of food on my food blog so people could see the outcome of my cooking adventures.
Then I let myself soak in the idea of food photos – not necessarily perfect pictures of food such as those by Cannelle et Vanille or A Beautiful Day – but photos which are shot quickly before Juan and I dig into our meal, our stomachs clutched and famished with hunger, or pictures which capture the spill of freshly boiled soup on the table, with the bright kitchen lights casting an overly white-glow on the food.
I’m still a long way off from being a good food photographer, but there is something appealing about shooting pictures of food that has led a revolution in Asia, where in almost every restaurant, you will certainly find people snapping pictures of the food before them. Plenty of people like posting what they’ve just eaten on Facebook or Twitter, particularly if they’ve just been to a Michelin-star restaurant, or sometimes just photos of street food from the food cart round the corner.
An obsession with snapping food photos..
Even before starting this food blog, and documenting the process of creating a dish through photos, I found it especially alluring to snap pictures of food that I would eat. It didn’t matter if I wasn’t going to post it online or send the pictures to my friends. I just wanted a photo of what I had eaten, and to store it in my memory. And since so much of our lives are spent gathered around tables with friends and family, tucking in this delicious dish or that amazing dessert, it naturally evolved that food formed a large majority of my photos. This obsession to capture food in a frame started so long ago that I can’t even pin-point an exact time when it started.
I believe this need to photograph food stems from a deeper desire and longing to make our memories tangible, to create something beautiful to hold on to.
Thinking about the reason behind all the compulsive snapping pictures of food, I realized, that it has much more to do with memory and freezing a beautiful shared moment in time. When I re-look at the photos that I’ve taken, I’m swept over by a wave of nostalgia, bringing me back to the moment, and I experience the joy and the happiness all over again.
Memories from all over the world…
From Hong Kong, to Singapore, to Germany and to Buenos Aires, the food pictures that I’ve taken in these places hold more than just a picture of a dish – they are the key to a flood of memories and beautiful feelings, and a constant reminder of how blessed I am to be able to travel, to make new friends across all borders and cultures, and try out different foods. And I’m reminded over and over again, of how much better my life is because of all these experiences.
Here are some frames of my life that I’d like to share with you – I hope you enjoy them too!
With my most amazing sister Valerie when she and Jasmine visited me in Buenos Aires in Sept 2011 – this photo always reminds me of our meat buffet at Siga La Vaca after horse riding and how much our butts hurt, but what a delightful afternoon and dinner we had together. I am also so thankful that she came to visit me – I love you Val!
With Jasmine & Valerie at Juan’s Granny’s (Trini) house – this photo, of food filling up the entire table, is a constant reminder of Trini’s love, kindness and generosity – often extended even to those outside of her family. It captures the essence of Trini’s warmhearted soul, the precious moments we had with her before her fall, and how much I love her.
During our Chinese New Year reunion dinner at my granny’s house in Singapore, in 2011. It was the first time I had returned after relocating to Buenos Aires, and the familiar smells of chicken stock and the ingredients simmering in the steamboat pot tranported me to Heaven. Homemade chilli & rolls – this is proof of my granny’s love for everyone, a reminder of our Chinese traditions, and the importance of families, and the gathering around a table full of food.
My lovely brother Ronald stuffing himself with Hong Kong’s famous ice lemon tea and claypot rice – heavenly clay bowls of steaming hot white rice with Chinese sausages and pork and fresh vegetables. Hong Kong has been the destination for countless family holidays, and for that it will always have a soft spot in my heart.
Meat hanging from a metal rod in a tapas bar in Barcelona. This was during a trip taken when I was on exchange in Europe, and I had traveled to meet with some friends in Spain with an exchange mate, Raymond. I remember endless plates of tapas (snacks) which came free with each bottle of cava we ordered! And then the dancing in the streets after we got a little high…!
Cheeses in a store in St Gallen, Switzerland. This was during our pre-exchange travel, with Faye, Raymond and Nadine, and where we met one of the sweetest couples ever, who invited us to stay in their house, and feast on cheese fondue.
A Bavarian brunch with my hostel roommates in Mannheim – complete with weisswurst, butter pretzels, and plenty of German beer!
At Oktoberfest in Oct 2007, having a chocolate-coated banana for dessert. I still remember Munich so vividly – the crisp night air bursting with shouts and life, Germans dressed in traditional clothes and stomping on chairs to German songs. Sinful amounts of food, sweets, and of course, rich German beers.