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At Dinner Time, Just Say 'Cheese'
Just back from vacation. As they used to say in my hometown paper, The Hooterville World Guardian, a good time was had by all and refreshments were served.
About those refreshments … I noticed something on this trip that puzzled me. Every time I sat down to eat, someone at a table nearby would produce a camera and start flashing away, paparazzi style. No, not at me.
At their food.
I’m not kidding. Every single meal – and I ate a lot of ‘em – someone would be aiming a camera – cell phone, point-and-shoot, single-lens reflex – at their plate. Didn’t matter what it was, either. From a hamburger and fries to a lobster dinner, they all got the “Say CHEESE” treatment. Including the cheese.
Now, I have been a photographer, and I have done food photography for newspapers, but I’ve never photographed my own food. In fact, the whole idea seems just a little weird to me. And for a guy who knows weird as well as I do, that is saying something.
Maybe it’s because I am half-McKenzie, which means that my veins are coursing with the blood of a people who remember every meal they have ever eaten. I am not kidding. Come to one of our family reunions sometime. The top three conversational topics are What I Am Eating, What I Have Eaten, and What I Hope To Eat Someday. When do we have these conversations? While we’re eating, of course.
Of course, we have our favorites – the classics, if you will: Grandma McKenzie’s fried and braised squirrel; fresh hams with their crispy crackling skin and rich, tender meat (generally preferred to roast beef, in part because hogs paid a lot of McKenzie mortgages); glorious new asparagus, unburdened by sauces; morel mushrooms, one of the signs that truly we have a Benevolent Creator who wants us to be happy; and desserts of all descriptions. All are remembered fondly, recreated faithfully or anticipated hungrily. Usually when we’re standing in the buffet line.
I also have keen memories of restaurant meals, some of them almost 50 years old, from simple hamburgers at a drive-in in Huntington to lobster ravioli at an Indianapolis restaurant that closed before I was able to go back and make sure I hadn’t imagined the entire thing, to boudin sausage eaten at a small chrome-legged table in a shack added onto a gas station near Lafayette, Louisiana. They are as alive in my memory as if I had eaten them yesterday.
Which brings up an interesting point. Why is it that I can remember all these meals from long ago, but am not entirely certain about what I might have had for dinner last night?
This points out the value of taking photos of your food, at least for those of us who have a few thousand miles on the odometer. Don’t remember what you ate? Look on your camera.
I’ve talked to some people about their food photos, though, and I don’t think that’s exactly why they do it. I think they’re using the photos as more of a visual diary, which is actually kind of cool. And useful. No more arguments over whether the pizza was with pepperoni or sausage. Now you’ll have conclusive proof.
Which gets me back to what I ate last night. I just remembered. Canned tuna.
No photo necessary.
© 2010 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
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