By Susan E L Lake
One of the things I find myself photographing on my travels (even brief trips to a local restaurant) is food that is served to me. Some folks ask “How come?”. I’m always taken aback because it seems so obvious to me, but then upon reflection, I realize it is not. But I do have very good reasons to carry my phone to dinner with me each night and even at breakfast. It’s because beautifully plated food is art in its own right. The chef or even an ordinary cook has taken the time to carefully place food in such a way that it is not only beautiful to eat but lovely to behold. For me it’s one of the delights of cruising.
One of the things I often photograph are flowers in my yard. Yes, they are pretty, but they are also temporal. That bloom will never appear again in the same way. By taking a picture of it, I capture that ephemeral moment. Food plating is exactly that. Within moments, the plate too beautiful to eat is disturbed with my first “bite” of fork. No longer is the perfect symmetry apparent. No longer are the complementary colors separated just enough to create impact. If I don’t record that event, it will be lost forever.
Often real effort is made to make food look as good as it tastes. When that doesn’t happen, I have to admit to being disappointed. On a recent cruise that was brought home to me far clearer than I expected. The food I was served was good (often very good), but I found myself dissatisfied. I couldn’t figure out why. I was not going hungry that’s for sure. The food was hot and tasty. But it wasn’t pretty.
A secondary reason to record “food art” is that it also gives me a record of “ideas” to try at home. I’m not a good “plater” so I need all the help I can get. Reviewing what others have done gives me ideas to try at home. They act as great models and I think I’m actually getting better at it.
Meanwhile, I’ll continue to capture food for the eye as well as taste buds.