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.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Wanna Know a Secret?

I'm in Brasil!

Yeah i know i've been giving you all the dramatic sob story novelettes on graduation, moving, leaving, change, and yadda--and then all of a sudden im in Brazil? Uh, you're asking--what?! Well, would you expect anything less from the Salty Cod?

We will be here for a while, so please pay me a few more visits if you'd like to continue the adventure with us. Salty is going to keep track of the brazilian food and culture, and of course the ever-entertaining, often awkward, pleasantly sporadic, and sometimes a bit triste vie quotidienne of this Cod girl. I do not know where to begin, as brazil is a big country, there are big topics. So, let's do what I did first--so let's go to the Mercadão, to follow in Tony (Bourdaine's) footsteps. Oh lala. Do i need a life? Bem vindos todos ao Brasil! on y va.

Before we talk about this sandwich, i'll answer the wtf question that's at the tip of your tongue--did you think i was going back to Paris? I am told too often that i'm random and impulsive. ehem. but well i'm in brazil what can you do. This trip is a visit to my editor...i think it a lot easier to go over the manuscripts in person after all. don't you agree? Alright, so about Brazil. Did you know that Brazil covers more landmass than the continental united states? true story. I flew into São Paulo and H, well editor's name is now H because i will begin fatiguing myself from typing the word editor ad nauseum, and well he can't hide from initialdome now, picked me up and then we spent perhaps 2 hours trying to get through the jungle city. Tony referred to São Paulo as the conjugal result of New York vomiting on LA. hmmmm....yeah pretty much true. Huge is an understatement. We got lost looking for the Mercadão de São Paulo only about six times. Don't worry though, we are very good at asking every third person for directions--and each person we asked, i must note, dropped absolutely everything to point us in the right direction. Vendors, workmen in a hurry, people caught in mid conversation. it's rather, nice; actually. When we finally got to the Mercadão, i thought ahh Tony, yes i'm a creeper i seem to make it an effort to go every where you have been when i visit a new city. wander wander wander...ahah! there it is, crowded and crawling with hungry people.

In line (line??) or rather jumble of people at the order counter, we (well not me) somehow started talking to these three old men behind us. They kept nodding to me and smiling, but really all i can do is nod and smile (you think i speak portuguese? well i don't. yet) H explained to them that i was American, they all lit up; "ohhh i have lived in Salt Lake City for 20 years with my daughter's family, they are all over there at the end of the counter. We had to come here because of some show my son in law saw on tv...." show? H and I looked at each other; some other crazy has come here just because of Tony? Hey now that's our dorkiness! this guy is cramping my style. It turns out mr. mormon, his brazilian wife, and their gaggle of children were on holiday to Sao Paulo and said that he heard Tony say it was the best sandwich on the planet, so he had to get it. His conclusion: it was expensive bologna. My opinion: go back to Salt Lake.

We got a mortadella sandwich, the specialty of course, "o sanduiche mais famoso do mercadao." Mortadella is the grandfather of bologna--originating in Italy as a large thick sausage of pork meat hashed with spices. favorite as you all know. it is heated on the grill with a big piece of cheese, and then stacked onto a bun. Sandwich? Well, we only bought one, and i just ate the most inner slices of meat away from the bread. Was it the end all be all? no. but did Tony do it? yes. So was it worth the wandering hours? yes. wandering lost in a new city is our all time favorite activity here at the Salty Cod, made all the more pleasant (i didn't think that was possible) with an assistant, of course.

It's raining right now. Rain in warm weather is very strange to me. It is winter here, and supposedly, so i've heard, São Paulo receives a lot of rain. I can't seem to be able to escape celestial crying; Seattle to São Paulo. Yeash. But now you know. Luckily though, H doesn't live in São Paulo. haha i tricked you all--a little over an hour north west of São Paulo is the city Indaiatuba; much smaller, cleaner, quieter, prettier, and safer than the big gun down south. Driving in you have to pass the hedge lines of billion dollar mansions guarded by stone walls and barbed wire; good god who the hell lives here, i thought, the president of Monaco? The standard of living here is quite a bit different from São Paulo; there is such disparity of wealth in this country that it is impossible to comprehend until you actually see it. Indaiatuba is mostly middle class, though there is representation on both sides of the spectrum. and a lot of dogs...too...many...damn dogs.

Well that's going to be the beginning. I've had a lot of rice and beans accompanying too many good meals already so far. Things like corn juice, manioc root, lots of tapioca flour, cheese, fruit, fresh squeezed fruit juice, coconut water (you drink it in the coconut with a straw. it's crazy) meat, meat, meat....ahhhh'll hear about it all. trust me.

I feel like im in the twilight zone here actually; besides H, there are no English speakers around me except little brother K who is really not that bad actually. But i don't speak Portuguese. And guess who's gone to work from six to six. So dictionaries, miming, sounds, do you know how simply amusing it is to be at a tea party in an aunt's house with the whole party of non-english speakers searching the kitchen and going back and forth reading...contem gluten...gluten, gluten...ahhh! não contem gluten! ahahaha; i love it here. Right now some kids are playing pool in their garage across the street listening to Jason Mraz and that damn poker face song, i had a vegetable and fruit vocabulary lesson this morning from mom while unloading grocery-bags after my run which i yet again managed to get lost during--but like we have said before, you can make anywhere feel like your home as long as you want it to. and i feel at home here. so let's get to know brazil, shall we.

a bientot

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

There Was This Job...

The Master Said: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

I had that quote pinned to my wall above my computer since i found it folded in a little card box. I decided i wanted to live to it. Perhaps not immediately, perhaps with hiccups and snags along the way, but i think maybe we'll get it. We're off to a good start either way.

So we said goodbye to my university and house last week (actually i'm still here in town for a bit, just acting the vagabond house out of a suit case et cetera) in order to get a last week of work in before...partir. It seems like a good night moon series here; good bye school, goodbye house, good bye job, good bye friends, good bye towns... I just finished working for a magazine; two actually. The Idaho Cuisine, and the Spokane Sizzle. My technical title was editorial assistant--but well i think i was mostly a photographer with writing, website work, trailing, chauffeuring, consulting, dining companion, and everything else one could possibly want an assistant for. What can i say, i suppose in the end, this was the best job that could have ever come to me, i am freshly graduated, but at the same time already have something to put in my resume. So i would like to thank my boss, J, and the other J, and the coworkers who all put faith in a nobody college kid to write and photograph for the publication. Thank you for giving me my start, i will miss you all!

Unfortunately as i said there is a lot of good bye-ing lately; as such, having no home, moving on into a new stage of life, and preparing for something that you will all hear about within the next few days here has left me with little time to write and or bake--bake? i don't even have a kitchen anymore....anyways, i will now throw at you, on the day of my very last work day, some shots that i particularly like from my time with the magazine. so. take a look if you please. Most, many--all are owned by the magazine appearing in print or online, so they are copyrighted. Not that i need to say this to any of you dear friends, but just in case.

All of these photos were from assignments--restaurant features, chef interviews, cover shoots, neighborhood spotlights, in-home caterers, local bakeries, and just happenings going on in the Spokane and Coeur d'Alene community. I was skeptic for three years that there was any beuty or taste to be found in this inland no-where corner of this country, but i suppose now that i've really looked at it, through my lens, i've discovererd that there is so much to taste, so many wonderful people to meet, so many things to see, smell, and smile at. It reafirms something that i keep forgetting; as long as you try to find it, you can really be happy anywhere.

will return with adventure shortly.

good bye Spokane--thanks for the four years of memories.

a bientot

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hey Guess What?

I'm Graduated! (and i catered desserts for 30!)

And so i ask myself: how did i get here? Can this really all be over? College is all i have known for four years, and school, well i have been in school for seventeen years. I don't know how not to be in school. This is it? I have to be a real person now? No more excuses, no more holding my hand? No more head in the clouds? I have to...have to...have to be a grown up now? Well. At least come to my party please? A party you say? One of thirty plus people? But who catered? Why me of course. ME! on y va.

I know it's possible perhaps that you are a first time reader and therefore are perhaps thinking that i just graduated from pastry school. well, not exactly. My pastry school has been in my own kitchen, while in the classroom i've spent the past four years acquiring two bachelors of arts: one in history and one in the French language. and now i have them. i have them. what good will they do me? well i'm not sure. but what it came down to was that i decided i would study what i loved, no matter what practicality it would have on future job outcomes. Therefore i have spent my days in classrooms studying Alexander and the Hellenistic Kingdoms, the American Revolution, Louis and Clark, Thomas Jefferson, Ancient East Asian Empires, American Immigration, Civil wars, World Wars, revolutionary wars, the Mexican conquest through independence, America the Gilded Age, America in expansion, Medieval Europe, Tudor England, Ancient Rome, the Space Race,Russian Tsars, the Kingdoms of Islam, African colonization.......and of course, Portuguese colonization (my thesis. if you actually would like to read it, just ask. i'd be happy to share Portugal with you). But aside from all that fun stuff (oh, and all the French courses) Gonzaga has forced me (at the time forced was definitely my mind set) over the past four years to attend classes on.....a few other subjects. Philosophy, Ethics, human nature, study of the Old Testament, African Catholicism, Religious dialog, mathematical statistics and algebra, geological physics, Latin, psychology, political science and world politics, fine arts, American literature, English writing, oration, Western literature...does it ever end? Apparently yes. As i am done.Done!

Perhaps you would like to know about this perhaps i should tell you. A graduation calls for a dinner party, with all the family? yes. F, S, A and I plus each of our family's comes to a total at about thirty. Ouch. What restaurant is going to attempt to seat that? well well well. party planning? i've found yet another guilty pleasure. Writing for a food magazine allows one to meet and befriend many restaurant owners and chefs, and as such if you happen to stumble into a place of love at first sight, befriending the owner becomes only logical. The venue for 224 Sinto's graduation party was at Chaps Restaurant, a Montana themed eclectic farm-house turned Dorothy-charm soul food sit down. Mason jars for water glasses, the walls lined in old newsprint and handed down recipes, sparkles, glittering belt buckles...the old tin lunch box for a bread basket--and i haven't even mentioned the food yet. But when i brought up the the proposition of a 30 manned graduation dinner to C, the mastermind behind it all, the number was a bit steep for the kitchen staff to turn out entrees for that many heads. So instead she suggested a party. a party? buffet style food set up, the entire farm house upper lever all to our selves, wine in ice buckets, dips and meats and cheeses--it would be a social gathering to mingle among our four families instead of a stuffy round table seated event, and i would do the desserts. me? i looked at her a little perplexed? me cater desserts for 30 people to be served in a real restaurant? me? C is one of my dearest readers here at the Salty Cod, and i am so grateful (and slightly undeserving) of her confidence in my pastry skills--she's offered me space in her restaurant kitchen to come in and well, bake! So that would be it; a standing room party for 30, i would come in to go over the menu with the chef (an absolute genius i must add) and work out the financial details, and i would do the desserts. But what? What could i do that's not too risky, could be done in my tiny little kitchen, on the the week following excruciatingly painful finals, a graduation, and the weekend of moving out of our house---does this sound fun?? hell yes it does!

While i should have been studying for my psych final, i was drawing up menu ideas in my cake journal. Bite size of course. The first thing to my mind: macarons. Macarons have become a special thing in this house, because as you all may or may not know, it is near impossible to find a macaron in the United States, as such after returning from my year in France, i made them for my house mates and they were sucked in as if hit by a hard drug. Make macarons? Are you going to make macarons? When will you make macarons again? I knew i had to make macarons. No question about it, it had to be done. But 100 macarons? Good god, what am i getting myself into. Besides macarons, what else? Well, there was this one cake i made last August for E, who along with my housemates, is my dearest Gonzaga friend. A coconut milk and ginger sponge cake rolled with white chocolate and coconut buttercream. S and E gave the cake a name that perhaps is a little inappropriate to state here, as my mom is in fact a reader of this chronicle (hi mom) so i knew for this party we had to bring it back, though not as a jelly roll, but the same cake, only as mini cup cakes. 30 cupcakes it is then. But there must be a center piece to it all, something a little more fancy...something with layers.

I have always eye goggled French entremet cakes. yes, something completely new and made up. but everyone likes to make fun of my love for canned pickled beets which i eat at least a couple times a week, staining the sink neon fuchsia. hmmm that color must be in it. A dark cake and light cake, a mousse and a cream. I love Helen over at Tartelette, i stare at her professional French pastries not only with respect and ency, but as, well, a pusher--she taught me how to do macarons, perhaps i am ready for this. So. With her coconut and mango layer cake as an inspiration, mine came to the party as a vegetable tier: to honor the four of us in our graduation...though we are all meat eaters, we do love a bit of vegetables every now and then. The two cakes: chocolate and zucchini genoise and a carrot spice genoise. The cream: sweet corn cream inspired by a Brazilian sweet corn ice cream that i stumbled upon at a blog a few months ago. The mousse: pear and beet juice baby. Glaze on top: Baby blue white chocolate of course. Why? Just because i love baby blue. I apologize for the absolute lack of photo for this cake, it turned out quite pretty, but was in process of being made up to the last there was no time for a proper photo shoot...but take my word along with its consumers that it was...a success! When they were all told what was in it, not only were they shocked, but somewhat relieved; you see--vegetables make people think they are being healthy. oh lala.

After consulting a few professionals--Christy and Helen thank you very very much--i decided to stop thinking about it all and just go for it. hell yeah i could do it all in 24 hours. just watch. I never thought i would actually go through 42 eggs in 24 hours...but i have seen the light. the macarons were of two different shells: 50 strawberry and 40 lemon, both with various dyes. The cream inside the strawberry shells was a vanilla buttercream, and inside the lemon a buttercream mixed with a homemade lemon curd provided by my neighbor (a professional caterer) who also lent me the use of her baking pans (thank you C i couldn't have done it without you!) The cupcakes were fairly simple, the same recipe as the cake from last August, though tripled. And the entremet cake, well, that one was a little nerve wracking, but it came together. I'd like to mention here that this was all produced in one uneven oven, done without mixing bowls (one of the roommates jumped the gun and packed up a bit early...what did i mix with? Rice and pasta pots that's what.) No food processor again...well...time to get out the magic bullet to grind those almonds again. But it all came together. Somehow it did, and in between i started that ever-joyous task of packing up. ah yes, i am a masochist. but i thought you knew that.

E, A and I delivered all the desserts to the restaurant ahead of time, just so they could get in the hands of the waiting staff and, well, i never told my parents what i was up to. When we all arrived to our private restaurant loft, the room lit up, and the party got started. The place was a hit, the food phenomenal, plenty of wine, mingling family members--a perfect way to end it in celebration of the best housemates i could ever ask for. And i won't lie to you all, seeing my desserts brought up by the staff, plated and looking professional--i finally felt like i was doing something right. And when the room clapped for me, i thought i would have to hold back some tears. The macarons--a hit. Anywhere in the US you will always find a room full of macaron virgins, for they are always completely shocked at the first bite: their eyes light up and they gasp, it's chewy!

The graduation ceremony followed the next morning at 9:30...and lasted until 1:00. mmmm aren't you sad you missed it? afterward--a little celebration, and the beginning of a lot of cleaning, and a lot of packing. does anything ever stand still? apparently not.

The recipe for the coconut cream and ginger sponge with white chocolate coconut butter cream can be found in the Salty Cod archive here, macarons, should always be attempted from instructions over at Tartelette, and the vegetable entremet cake--well, i have a hard time imaging the sound of it will draw many replicators, but if you are interested, please email me and i will gladly share with you more recipe details.

So this is it. 17 years of education done up. my four years of college both drug on and escaped me in a flash. What have i accomplished, what have i earned from all of this besides a massive student loan monthly payment? Well, i suppose i could say that in the last four years i learned how to be me. I have made friendships here at Gonzaga that i know will last a lifetime. I was given the opportunity to study what i enjoyed, which led me--as strange as it sounds, to the cod fish, the inspiration behind this very blog. It was also in my college dorm room where i first began my little love affair with baking; the dorm mates would love the muffins and shoddy looking biscotti left out for the taking on the community table on weekends...mixed and shaped over a bath towel on my dorm room floor of course.

Through the Gonzaga French program i was given the opportunity to live abroad a year in France to not only study, but to actually live as i wanted to live. It was for my abandoning of the English language for a year that i began this blog, to maintain my drippy little passion for this written word. Salty was started the summer before my departure, and i had no idea that it would come to be one of the most darling, useful, loving, and right things in my life. While in europe i got to know myself, the self that always was there, but that i never wanted anyone to see. France also made possible the meeting of a dear friend, who more than anything or anyone else has supported my ridiculousness since the beginning, unwavering. I could not have survived the transition back to the states nor made it through this last year of over-credited semesters, financial stress, a new job, and life in general without him.

This blog grew up in Europe, it got me to Portugal, and Portugal got me to my senior thesis. Food writing through Europe pushed me into the magazine i work for here in Spokane, and has solidified for me what and where i want to take this little life of mine. Maybe i'm afraid of what people think, the risks of trying such a field; photographer, writer--oh yes, they make so much money don't they...and what does any of this have to do with history and French? Well everything has brought me to this point. everything. nothing happens without the momentum of the event before it. my morue (French word for Cod) has lead me to this point today of exactly who i am. and he is going to lead me somewhere else tomorrow. i know i am not perfect, and i know there are many faults to be fixed; but what i have gained in these four years, i would not give up or trade for anything. My family, i could not have done this without you. My friends--in particular S, A, F, and E; oh screw it Sierra, Anneke, Faye and Erik, there is no Gonzaga without you. My professors, my employers, my bloggers, readers, the many people i met in Europe, the chefs, the writers, the photographers--in other words everyone who has helped me be me. And my best friend, to whom i wish to say that no matter what, these last few years are ours, and you have been irreplaceable through it all. I guess what i have learned in college--finally, it took four years to do it--is that life is about the people that are in it. everything else is just filler.

So what's next? We are grown up now? We have to move on, no more excuses, no more fall backs? Well, yeah, we gotta grow up someday. But does that mean we have to take our head out of the clouds?

i think not!

a bientot

Monday, May 4, 2009

What the Hell is That?!

Animalitos Baby. Muffin Style.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. If you are a baking blogger, then you, like me, are probably a relaxation baker. Had a bad day? Crash your car into a ditch? Break your right arm? Lose your best friend? or Just get out of a two hour exam on Alexander the Great and oh my god the names of his 30 some odd companions and advisers all bleed together on the page...Lysimachus the who? It's all Greek to me, or rather Macedonian, i suppose. But that's up and done. Fini. I have never needed to bake something so bad...but there's no flour. heart pounding. One stick of there even sugar? You see, we are moving out of this house in less than a week, so we are not buying anything in the hopes that it will run itself out instead of find its way to the garbage, well, there's a giant bag of "animalitos," the one dollar mexican-import bland animal shaped cookies. hmmmm. on y va.

So really i just crushed animal crackers to a fine dusty powder. That's about it. Nothing special here. One cup animal powder, one cup oats, meh maybe i should melt that stick of butter...muscles are egg. ok. cocoa powder and chocolate bits and pieces. Brown sugar, and white! use it all. better use both powder and soda for this one. Hmmm muffins are safest. And a crumble honey top because those are oh so chouette. Voila. As i cannot eat them, they sat a few moments waiting for a roommie to arrive-- "Here! eat! it's possible it's not edible, no rat poisoning or anything like that though, but you must let me know!" A starred back at me with a look of fear--she closed her eyes, mmmm, brilliant! excellent.

And these are random photos that have nothing to do with anything. but meh!

not that you need a recipe, but, well--
ingredients: 1 cup crushed animal cookies ~ 1 cup oats ~ 1 stick butter ~ 1 cup vanilla yogurt ~ .5 cups sugar ~ .5 cups brown sugar ~ .25 cups cocoa powder ~ 1 tsp baking powder ~ .5 tsp baking soda ~ 1 egg ~ cinnamon ~ chocolate bits (for the top: honey, brown sugar, crushed animal cookies, and oats)

Haha! A something from a nothing! As life should be.

ps. I must make a birthday wish to my baby brother--15 years old! damn just yesterday you were eating potatoes with spoons. you're my little animalito! when you were born i was a stringy 8 year old cry baby screaming "no! i hate boys! send him away!" you see, when my one and only bro bro was born, i already had three sisters. It was a girls only party in my mind. Don't worry brother, i like ya now at least. and thankfully i've stopped hating boys. well sorta. hehe.

a bientot

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Infamous Cutter Board...

Plate-less Cover Shots: naked, bare, and simple

Dear reader, yet another weekend gone by and no crazy dessert recipe proposal for you. Accept my sincerest apologies please. My week of final exams starts now, and it randomly happens to coincide with more photo shoots for my job than i thought humanly possible. Two cover shoots and five field assignments this weekend alone. Aiya. Are you telling me to study? D stands for Degree you know. So i thought i would take this flourless opportunity to attack the quandary that has been plaguing my mind for some weeks now: the question of the cutter board in food photography--when, how, and why to use it. So if you give a crap, read on!

First i must make mention and give a shout-out (Rockefeller Plaza style) to chef and photographer Matt Wright who writes his Seattle based blog over at WrightFood, and who undoubtedly has got some mad skilz with cutter board posed shots. As he is big on meat, seafood, and Asian influenced cuisine, when i was assigned a cover shoot for a fancy pants Asian Bistro downtown Coeur d'Alene; he was the first inspiration on the back of my mind. Meat + seafood + cutter board = bueno. Mr. Wright also suggested the parchment paper tip that turned out vital to these shots. Thanks Matt, these are for you.

Idaho Cuisine? You thought I worked for Spokane Sizzle? I do. They are owned by the same publisher. One and the my book at least. Eastern Washington, Idaho, what's the difference? (don't pay attention to the words on the cover--they are just mock up space savers so they can see what it "might" look like. hehe.) Before the meat and fish lens molestation, i shot a cover for a natural foods market. Vegetable and herbs, what star models. Aiya. The crowd (let me just vent) around this shoot was the most enervating group of neck breathers to date. I knew the owner would be trouble, as the look he gave when i arrived with my boss (remember, im just about 23 years old) was a bit smirkish, and when my boss (J) bragged that i was "just about to graduate" he replied--from where? me--Gonzaga, he--Prep? (Gonzaga Preparatory is an equally over-priced Catholic high school in the area) me--no University. Do I look like i'm 17? He--hmmmm. If i hadn't needed all of my fingers to operate aperture and lens there would have been one digit sent quite vertical toward his direction. But i just smiled. Forget and forgive. Anyways, i asked if i could have a cutter board (in my mind i wanted to practice for the next shoot the following day) they actually obliged. Go figure.

I will tell you that during the entire shoot he was grumpy and anxious, "you're not doing what i want, are you done yet? can i play now?" I had to just ignore and look him square and say--please, you have to trust me. Trust. Me. Ok? Ok. Now cut that beet in half for me please and back off , you're giving me a tumor. When we left i could tell he was displeased--it's just an accepted fact that client hates photographer until they see the thumbnail proofs. Was that the case here? yes. Open mouth insert foot? Yes. Seeing is believing. That's the way my life goes. But you must trust me first; then you can see. Concept and words are never enough; people need concrete, need physicality in order to trust you. But trust you must.

After the market shoot i tailed after my boss to the Wine Cellar to "assist" (hold lights and put in my not-always-asked-for two cents) in another shoot for something else (with a real fancy pants photographer with a rolling bag of equipment and expensive lights. hmmm) and then get tipsy off free wine with the whole bourgeois crew. woohoo!

When i arrived a the Asian bistro shoot the next day, i was a little nervous of a repeat. Though pleasantly surprised was i to find find that i would be working with the head chef, and not the owner. Chefs are so much more pleasant to work with, store owners are a bit more tight assed. My apologies to any of you reading this who owns a shop--but well chefs are god-sends to work with; not only for the fact that i (not so secretly) envy and admire them, but because they care about how the food is going to look and be represented, and not themselves (ehem) the food is the star for them in the shot. Excellent. So when i asked for a cutter board and parchment paper he enthusiastically obliged, and he offered wine. woo what a job! No plates? he did ask, me--no plates, we want the naked beauty of this meat and critter (hella expensive Kobe beef and $40 shrimps. aiyyaaaa, just for me to molest) he--you're the photographer, i will get you whatever you need. Brilliant. What fun. Bloody meat, crawling food, no frilly little china plates to get in the way--bare food, i told him we would get the sexy shot; no makeup, no jewelry; raw, pure, and naked. And for this i need cutter boards and knives! I think they turned out, don't you?

So this is what i have learned about cutter boards: the older the better, the more scarred and warped the better--i wouldn't use a cutter board for a fancy cake or delicate baked good (bread--yes, quiche--maybe). Wood and knives--well, save your pastel espresso spoons for your tarts and verines. Cutter boards associate with simplicity and purity. A raw bloody hunk of meat. Oh yeahhhhhh. sell it baby. But don't go overboard, there must be a balance. Just like in real life, everything balances, in the end. This weekend i learned that life will never let everything be good: when one sector of your life summits, another plummets. I suppose it's just the way it is.

Well that's the cutter board report. This cover will be out in June. in case you were wondering. The rest of my weekend? Assistant at another shoot, coffee house story, home caterer story, and tomorrow a feature on an olive bar. Hot dog! and me with my one little lens. well you know what? I seem to hold my own against the ones with the fancy lenses, the high tech lights, umbrellas, and screens--so maybe it is about the photographer after all. There's no embarrassment in toting around a roll of parchment, a white priority mail box, and a mentality to chase the suns real pin light, natural or nothing--seeing is believing.

The hard part about all of this--turning what you love to do into a job, is that not everyone is going to like what you do. To accept criticism is a skill learned, as is to not allow that criticism to crush you. Nothing ever done first try is perfect; draft, draft, and draft again. I have no doubt that i will disappoint, get fired, asked to re-shoot, thrown out of town, punched in the face along the way. But each time i do, it will make the next shot just that much better. So i am counting on failure. If the grocery man decides instead to shoot an overflowing shopping bag--be my guest. I'll just have to try harder next time.

Well now you know the secret- it's just me and my one little lens. Just me, as i am, nothing more. But i will tell you that i think i am going to start trucking around my own cutter board to shoots. Do you doubt? Well you shouldn't. Now back to studying before i fail psychology. stressy weekend? trust me, you don't want to know. so get that blasted camera out of my face!

a bientot