For many, Lent is a time for fasting or at least modifying what they eat. I’ve long passed giving things up for Lent, however, I am fasting, now that I am home from England. That’s because I enjoyed English grub too much (and long-distance flying tends to make me feel bloated). I’ve shed 3kg this week and I am on a roll (sorry for the food allusions).
If the age of social media meant anything to me, it was because of the digital camera, moreso the mobile phone with camera, that allowed pictures to be taken and shared, instantly. I have long been a keen photographer, from my early teens, when a schoolmate and I would walk the streets of central London taking candid photographs, then developing our images in a dark room in his parents’ flat in Pimlico. However, as I aged, one theme tickled my palate, literally—food, and images of it.
Now, most people know that nice food always seems better if well presented. Food has taste and smell, but food also has colour and texture. I love all of that and pictures often capture much of it. I’m also someone whose biographical memories are often associated with food and where and with whom I partook it. (There was a time I could do that with wine, but I honestly started to feel pompous, and decided to treat wine more like water, and leave its ‘mystery’ aside.)
What I also love about food is what it tells you about people and, sometimes, their culture. Sitting on a dirt floor, eating out of a large shared bowl is quite different to sitting at a table with fine linen and shiny cutlery. The nature of the food will likely be radically different. So, for the former, I can see myself eating fonio and rice in Guinea; for the latter, I see images of food gras at a banquet with the Lord Mayor of London (yes; been there, done that 🙂 )
Some friends now scream at me “You’re terrible!” Why? They’ve seen some more food pictures. What I often point out, is that food pictures are but a part of my repertoire of images, so it’s triggering something in them to suggest “You’re always posting them!” Truth: you only focus on them. Sorry! But, look, I’m glad that my Jamaican friends in Baltimore on a frozen Sunday afternoon can displace themselves to the south coast of Jamaica and ‘join’ me for plate of fried fish. Hey, it’s cheaper than actually flying here. I suggested to these same friends, recently, that a 3D printer may be a good investment. 🙂
A young man I know, from Ohio, is currently ‘eating his way’ around the world and posting pictures on Instagram. That’s cruel and inhumane. For me, having travelled to well over 70 countries, it’s the variety of food that’s stunning, even within a region, though Asia is really diverse. I shared a copy of his latest post with my daughter, earlier, so she will see them when she wakes up.
How do you top that? With a random selection from London last week:
Perhaps, a summer project will be to organize my food pictures.
What’s not seen, of course, are the many food experiences when a camera was not present, and I’ll list a few just for the sake of intrigue:
- Sitting on a bus in Malawi, buying grilled rat on a stick (it tasted like chicken)
- Eating sheep eyes in Azerbaijan (I waited to see if they blinked)
- Not enjoying a Japanese New Year dinner in Hong Kong, where the meal scored -10 out of 20 😦 Sea urchin was one of the dishes (below) and it’s one thing I will never eat again.
- Drinking Chinese snake wine (it’s just as bit off-putting seeing the serpent in the bottle, if you don’t like snakes).