France: On (Not) Photographing Food

Wednesday, October 6, 2010 4comments No tags Permalink 0

Paris, in the 6th arrondissement

I have not blogged about our holiday in France because I’m not sure where or how to begin.

But maybe we can start with a bit about photos. Monsieur P has never been crazy about the idea of taking food photos. To him, it is a distraction that takes away from one’s ability to enjoy the moment.

When we first started dating we drove each other absolutely nuts. He would be upset with the taking of photos and then I would be upset with the not taking of photos. It wasn’t so much that he found photographing in restaurants embarrassing as it was distracting to the purpose of dining. We semi-solved the “problem” when he thoughtfully purchase a Lumix LX3 for my birthday – a compact camera that takes excellent shots. We can easily slip it into my evening purse and I take the photos quick and discreetly.

Brioche, at the Sunday market in Carnac

It shouldn’t have surprised me when a week before leaving he suggested perhaps not taking any food photos in France. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? He was half-joking but I’m sure there was a touch of seriousness in that request. In all honesty though, I understood his point and I do find myself enjoying meals more (the fine dining ones, less so the takeout/bakery/gelato ones) when I don’t have the “obligation” of a camera.

So I thought about it seriously…maybe I wouldn’t take any food photos in France…how crazy would that be? ;) In the end I settled for something the middle. Photos at bistros and cafés, the pâtisseries and ice cream shops. But I put away the camera in the evenings when his mother and godfather cooked the most fantastic meals or when we met friends for dinner.

Paris, at a café in the 6th arrondissement

The memories are sharp in my mind, though I have no photographs for those stunning dishes, the night his mother prepared seared duck breast and crisp fried potatoes following foie gras accompanied by glasses of wine from Alsace one cool evening at his godfather’s home. It was at that same table where we dined on a hearty meal of braised veal on another occasion. Nor do I have photos of seared scallops at a friend’s home, and it was on that very evening we devoured golden pockets of homemade puff pastry stuffed with beef and melting onions on their outdoor terrace. And with every single meal there was an endless flow of wine – his parents had just returned from the south of France and you can imagine the wines they brought back! We closed on simple salads and truly mind boggling assortments of cheese, always at least four types on the table, goat, cow, sheep, you name it. They were pungent, buttery, soft, firm, blue…I wish you could have see it all! We broke out fresh baguettes from the boulangerie downstairs, poured more wine and feasted for hours to come.

Not a single photo from the nights. The missed opportunities are still…well, what can you do about it? It does though, feels very “light” to let go (food photo addict? oh no, not me!), abandon the camera and just relish in the moment.

  • K and S
    October 6, 2010

    great post! I try not to photograph when with friends :) looking forward to the rest of your trip!

  • anonymous
    October 7, 2010

    ha, that's love!

  • Noelle
    October 10, 2010

    Josh is often squeamish about the idea of me taking so many photos both for the embarrassment and for the pure wait. When the food comes, he wants to eat!So I have found my way to compromise, too, and now use my iPhone most of the time.Sounds like you had a GREAT trip to Paris, Kathy!

  • kelly
    October 11, 2010

    I think it's better that you didn't take photos, it's kind of cool that only you have the images of that moment. Of course, with my memory I need to take pictures because I forget really easily, but that's why it's good you encapsulated it in this post!

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