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this is my reality

May 13th, 2013 | 5 Comments »

Not the most novel thought concept, but there is way too much noise in our lives, and not just the auditory kind. For anyone who spends time wrapped up in social media outlets, you end up bombarded with a mega-dose of someone else’s perception of their lives, a constant barrage of images, minutiae pieces of information, air-brushed and filtered  beyond any sense of reality. At it’s root, it can be a great avenue for sharing life. At it’s worst, it’s a psychiatrists dream; an entire population of people driven to a state of self-induced perfection that no one will ever achieve.

(eggs at room temperature, bananas thawing for bread. Not posing)

We’re better than this. Aren’t we? We know that behind every softly filtered photo of a smiling child is probably a wasteland of strewn toys, messy rooms, crumbs on the floor and a host of other perfectly normal images that are conveniently ignored for the one single moment of perfection in an otherwise chaotic day, and Mom probably hasn’t even had a shower yet. For the mouth-watering image of one’s meal, lovingly created from scratch and poised on a battered wood background (is that really paint chips under that food?? Is that even safe??) and against a backdrop of artfully scattered food, or a smeared spoon, the errant drizzle of vinaigrette, or oil, we all know there lurks a mound of grimy dishes, a messy stove and probably something that got burnt in the process.

(making gremolata, not posing for the camera)

(yikes…. messy pizza making, NOT posed)

This is not our reality. But it’s become our touchpoint, and it’s alternating between making me sad- as I see how it drives others to do, create or strive for the impossible- and making me angry. It’s a wholly false reality.

I spent an afternoon recently making these cracker breads. And one of them was browned a bit too much because I was more interested in the song playing than watching what was happening in my blazing hot oven. It was placed right next to the others when I snapped a photo- see it in the back there? The photo is a bit blurry. It would never be accepted to Tastespotting. But it was my reality, and why should I hide that? Everyone burns something. We just don’t want to admit the imperfections. By the time I was done making those cracker breads, the floor was covered in scattered seeds, flour and salt flakes. The photo I took of it was also blurry, a bit too much or I would have showed you that as well. Does anyone bake anything without making a mess? Doubtful. And for each perfect photo bathed in soft light there are likely dozens that got dumped for being not perfect, like Tastespotting perfect, though. As if they ever will be. We all know it, and do it. Somehow, we’ve been programmed to think our food photography has to reach a level of perfection that someone else decided is right.

In the end though, when all these crackers were done, I’ll be darned if that burnt one wasn’t the best tasting disc of the bunch.

My Instagram feed isn’t perfect- as you can see from the photos above-, but for some reason I will never understand, someone on the West Coast named it as one of the Top 10 Foodie accounts on Instagram last Fall, and it kind of made me shake my head in disbelief. The only time I tend to arrange my food photos is to cram things closer together so I can get them all in the same shot. The moments that take my breath away are so ordinary, but so mind-boggling in their simple beauty; fresh chopped herbs on a cutting board, a pile of pale, translucent shaved fennel, the way milk swirls through dark, black coffee. The crumb of a bread crust, and how morning sunshine makes any food all that more remarkable. The photos of my cooking are really what is happening in my kitchen. Sometimes they’re really nice; other times they’re blurry, or it’s messy. Like life. But it’s always delicious. And there are no bits of food scattered around a perfect photo of perfect food. That’s not a reality I can even understand, those bits of food everywhere- and if I went to dinner at someone’s home and their table was covered with scattered bits of food and messy spoons and stuff dribbled everywhere, I might seriously wonder about them. It’s lovely, in a sloppy and not-at-all-right way, but my urge is to pick up a dishcloth and get busy with that mess, not eat it. Yet this has become the fulcrum that everything hangs on for a food blogger. It’s just not mine. I’ve loved using mason jars ever since I was in college when they were a cheap and useful means of storage and consumption, and long before they became de rigueur on food blogs, especially with a striped straw sticking out of them. I don’t have burlap pieces with frayed edges, or tea towels with stripes or the ubiquitous battered wood background with chipped paint. People don’t really eat off that chipped paint, do they??

What I do here is not winning me a fan base or making me even one cent of income. I’m not writing a cookbook, nor will I ever. If you’ve read this far, I’m glad. Thank you for that. And I hope you keep returning for more. I promise a clean table and good food when you stop by to visit, even if there might be a few crumbs on the floor. If it’s not your thing, I’m not offended; there’s plenty out there to keep you occupied.

For those of you who read every post, enjoy the Instagram photos, and make yourself comfortable in this space,
my thanks to you runs deep and my gratitude is ever-present. I do this for you, as I’m so glad that you’re here.

5 responses to “this is my reality”

  1. Nicole says:

    Oh dear Kate, it’s all I can do not to throw my hands up jubilantly (sp?) and shout HOORAY!! after reading this post. What a world we are wrapped up in! This crazy food-blogging world. I’ve hardly had time to COOK lately, let alone capture it in “perfect” photos & write up the ingredients. This does make me a little sad, as I get so much joy from sharing what I eat with others (and vice versa). But sometimes, it’s time to rest, and receive.

    Thank you thank you for this. I sincerely hope that more & more food writers will come out of the shadows and say the same thing, in their own way. Let’s all keep sharing what we eat, both online & off.

    Love you!

  2. Vicki says:

    I love this post and I love the posts I’ve read and I’m always happy to see what you post next on Instagram. You really have an eye for beauty in the ordinary everyday and my mouth waters over all of your food…even the stuff I’ve never heard of. 😉

  3. Jeff Burrows says:

    Nice job, Kate! Let’s all resolve to include some reality shots in our blog entries. At our house, we joke about my ability to dirty every pot in the kitchen. I also enjoy backing up and taking a photo of the food but also the setup:lights and reflectors, etc… because they show the reality.

  4. This post is so perfect. In an un-styled, real kind of way. 🙂

  5. kat says:

    I love this. My friends Susi & I who write our craft site together as always talking about this, about wanting to show real life on our site. We love the pretty pictures but ours are more likely to have a crying kid that doesn’t want to be photographed in them 😉