cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Rouge, Vermelho, Rojo - RED

Food Photography on Red Safari

Red is a key color in the world of gastronomy for both chefs, bakers, and pastry artists alike. A bleeding steak is far more desirable than a blackened gritty piece of leather that once upon a time resembled muscle tissue. Tarts in a pastry shop window; the pear is undoubtedly delicious, though there is something more drawing about the eye popping geometric strawberries glistening in sugary syrup. It is the contrast against the crust, don't argue, just accept. We eat first with our eyes. Red is alive. We are drawn subconsciously. Snow White could not overcome the seduction of the sports-car red polished apple the witch offered her. Red is a spice, saucy, hot, and naughty? Blood is the basal concept of the pigment, life and death therein stem. Red is always a stream of opposites; red for evil, for devil, for sin--red for love, for heart, for life. Red is the color equivalent of the exclamation mark; red emphasizes, emboldens, and warns. You are overdrawn in your checking account; Red. The editor has returned your manuscript, is there even one word not molested by Red? Red is the leader; strength, dominance, and fiery emotion. The Red planet, Mars--synonymously the god of War. My tongue is Red, and my nose gets Red when i eat mustard, does yours? What is so enticing about red lipstick? Victoria's Secret sells more Red lingerie than any other color. Dorothy clicked her red heals. Red m&m is original, yellow peanut is his sidekick. And most importantly is the royalty of a red red wine. on y va.

Why Red? Well why not Red, it deserves. Though how ironic (uh huh) it is that the present theme for the monthly food photography contest hosted at Jugalbandi is Red. The contest is open to all participants with or without a blog, and entries will be accepted until the last day of the month at midnight. Please submit if you are a photographer, photo enthusiast, or a random vagabond who somehow got lucky with a camera while seated in front of a pile of food.

Pondering Red, the firsts appear: apple, red pepper, tomato, strawberry. So, those are hereafter off limits. Then what? I move toward raw meat and wine. I cannot afford meat right now, and well wast wine for a photo? Not on your life--there are a hundred things i'll waste for a photo, but wine does not make the list. Perhaps a wine substitute? Why yes, a cranberry cocktail, not the right shade i agree with you, however it gives the illusion. If you thought just now that perhaps you would like to show me up and use real wine, then i first implore you to practice one hundred frames with a water stunt double to make sure the ISO is right. Which is the greater evil: wasted wine, or a grainy photo? I rest my case.

Ketchup and beer are obnoxious and highly representative of the college image of junk food and, well beer. Is there anything more classic than the Red party cup? No, no there isn't. While at the market, i found myself in the pathetic international aisle staring at Mexican products. Aiya, i think, two dollar canned sardines? Bet those are delicious. Who the hell would buy that...hmm that's a nice red can. True, the cat-food smelling headless sardines photographed above were not eaten, but i yet see that they died for a purpose. And the photo below, you will ask yourself, why the hell is that here? It's not red. Well, there is no reason other than i like it, was in one of those i love fish moods. Think of it this way--there is red inside them, well, there some point.

Are you wondering about the little guy sitting in the field of Red sugar? Well you should be. Always ask questions now. We are very Socratic here at the Salty Cod. He is a small clay shaped man curiously flipping through the pages of the book he doubles as his lawn chair (he and a few pages fell out of the book for the photo). I acquired him at a small over-stuffed book shop in Lisbon. The book he's reading actually has full sentences and page numbers. Here he sits reading for eternity Os Direitos da Criança, which, after the consultation of a dictionary, appears to be The Rights of Children. So the little guy is a lawyer. Or i suppose in his case, an advogado. Isn't Portuguese fun. But not so much in size five point font. Instead, i sit waiting for him to read it out loud to me from his dusty shelf. Next to him is my Red polka dot egg cup, not from Portugal, but from Paris. I told you once before that the egg cup is the most important piece of dishware one will ever own. So i tell you again, and i daresay it won't be the last.

The Sperry Top-Sider bottle--water is a food when it's not photographed cascading from jagged rock cliffs. Beleive it or not, i consume more water than any other beverage. True story. And can you tell i'm into playing with fast action photography right now? My bro and i started to fiddle around with water scenes--he poured i shot. Thanks brother. But either way--Sperry Top-Siders, if you are unawares, are the chicest, most comfortable, and fashion-forward shoes available for consumer purchase--they are boat shoes. I happen to live with the daughter of a distributor, ergo she has everything stamped with the brand logo. Stationary, tote bags, cups, and even water bottles. Thanks F, your bottle came in handy.

Red is a good color. We may not all have Red fruit, Red tubers, or Red seeds, but all of the animals and fish of the world bleed Red, the culinary artery that connects us all through color. Vegetarians--as usual i am excluding you on purpose. Do we like Red here? Yes, yes we do. There are so many different shades to choose from. And my Red Sox cap is quite chouette, though i am not a baseball fan, i do have a sister in the Boston area, and of course, the necessity of all necessity, Red Sperry Top-Siders. Jealous? i thought so.

please submit and or view current contest entries for the Click! Food Photography contest for the Red month of January. Besides, you never know who might just be a judge...

à bientôt


Elra said...

Beautiful photographs Mallory!how boring life will be without this (red) color.

FeeMail said...

I only can agree with that! beautiful! i love those wine photos!!

Moira said...

I loved your text and the photos are great specialy the one of the wine. I love red too.
You reminded me an old song from Fafa de Belem, a brazilian singer called "Vermelho" the song is about all kinds of RED.
If you want to hear it go to:

Chocolate Shavings said...

Red does make any photo pop - it's the color of vibrancy and life. Your photos are beautiful!

pigpigscorner said...

Wow, nice pictures! I love red.

Marija said...

Beautiful, very artistic photos! Your photos have made my day today :)

Olga said...

How clever! My favorite is the egg holder :)

Núria said...

Ha, ha... that last sentence...;D

What can I say Mallory? Girl... maybe you should be a politician, you know how to use the words so well. My admiration from here!

And those pictures are so passionate... no Spanish blood in your system?

Happy New Year to you and your family :D

Aran said...

my favorite color! i love the first photo with the sardines. stunning!

Moira said...

Hi Mallory,
I answered you in my blog about my banner,with explanations but I forgot to give you the link of the recipe, if you need a better translation please ask, because google translator is not good enought.
Ah and is not coriander leaves it was persil and oregano.

Moira said...

the link:

Christy said...

So I'm a total red girl. Red lipstick, red shoes, red dress. You get the picture. I think subconsciously I associate red with summertimes, and happy times. Think summer carnivals (red and white polkadot sleeveless dresses ala vintage 1950s pin-up poster, red and white circus tents), and rapberries, strawberries and cherries!

Oh, btw your water bottle looks a lot like the one J gave me to use. He boasted that it was 'expedition quality', and it'll last me a lifetime. We'll see.

Beautiful photos, the sardine ones are very abstract and a real visual treat!! I like the wine ones too, though.

Mallory Elise said...

well thank you so much everyone--you are all making me blush, and my cheeks are already usually a bit red.

ehem Christy, I think it is settled then. for our tea-and-tour business, our uniforms will be red and white dresses. i do love red with white polka dots.

Tartelette said...

The sardine photo makes me so happy...I have been on a sardine kick lately. Magazine worthy!
They all are...

My polka dot bowl wants to meet your polka dot cup :)

Nani said...

Hi Mallory!! Thank you for the comment. I decided, for now, to keep writing in english, because I remember I have some old au pair friends from Europe that don't know portuguese, so the only way for them to read it, is if I write in english. But I will write some portuguese once in a while, this way you get to practice a little.

Have I told you how well you write?
If you cook as good as you write I am definitely invited myself over your house sometime, haha, just kidding.

The pictures are also tempting.
You have a talent, I mean, many talents!

Hope you have great 2009!

Feliz Ano Novo,

Elaine :)

Nani said...

I meant... "definitely invitING myself"...

Mallory Elise said...

Elaine--you don't have to invite yourself, you're ALWAYS invited :)

Sierra said...

oh wonderful. I enjoyed being a part of your photos this week hah. Oh and the red sox hat is the perfect touch...faye might not be so happy haha

pixen said...

love love the picts! And I'm going to see more red in 2 weeks time!!! It's Chinese New Year celebrations :-P with All the lion dance and tonnes of food and loud fire crackers that could make a deaf man jumps from the seat! I have 3 red Swiss Army knives and am Fire Aries and Fire Goat/Ram! Voila.. red is not bad after all eh? :-P

Have nice week!

The Blonde Duck said...

My mom loves red. I like it in controlled doses.

Anonymous said...



You are getting better and better. One day we'll make that salad we talked about with beets! Maybe it'll get reddish!

I'm so proud of you! Ahk! I got your card today! Many thanks, hope you got mine as well!


Colloquial Cook said...

Oui oui, ton cap de baseball est super chouette. Mais je préfère le petit bonhomme dans son champ de sucre rouge :-)

Robert Campbell said...

Mallory. I wish there was an easy to find contact box so I could email you. Why are you so hard to contact?

Carolyn Jung said...

I give you all the credit in the world for making canned fish look so beautiful. No easy task! ;)

pea & pear said...

Mallory, so many beautiful photos... and I never got around to commenting on your beautiful moomin macarons, but they look just divine!!!!!

Sierra said...

hooray for fish in a wine class...two of your favorite things!

Manuela © said...

Vermelho rules! :)

Happy new year to you.

heidileon said...

Hi Mallory,

Love, love, love your pictures and your blog! Amazing job!. Chapeau (rouge)!!