Paris: A Still Life by an Open Window
I am always intrigued with the composition of food in photographs and paintings.
This fascination goes back to childhood, when I spent winter Sunday afternoons armed with a bag of oranges and my parents' coffee table books, which usually focused on travel and history.
One book of black-and-white photos combined both, and in it was a feature on Colonial Williamsburg. There was a photo of fresh on a windowsill warmed by the lambent late-afternoon sun that always intrigued me.
They were root vegetables, I believe, and it seemed to me that they were waiting to be prepared for some deep and rich and earthy-tasting supper dish.
Poring over these books gave me a taste for home decorating or “shelter” books, especially those involving kitchens. I am always interested in the choice of food props. Bread, onions and artichokes? Berries, cheese and lemonade? Who decides? How do they decide? Do they look at kitchen color and come up with a contrast?
I remember looking hungrily at a fall table decorated with bittersweet. Atop the table were pewter tankards, probably filled with hard cider, a loaf of rustic bread, a hunk or two of cheese, and a bowl of apples.
It seemed like a fine fall meal to me.
When I was 16 years old, we piled into the car with Grandma Annie on an October afternoon and visited my grandfather’s sister, Annie’s sister-in-law, who lived on an 1870s-era farmstead 30 miles into the country.
Before we left, Frances prepared an impromptu meal of ham, cheese, rolls, applesauce and cold milk. This humble meal has remained a favorite of mine on busy fall weekends.
In Paris, we had a kitchen window that looked out on an airshaft. Just before 5:30 p.m., the light was right for food photography. I shot this photo of a baguette and some aromatic Pont L’Eveque cheese with a bottle of wine after a long afternoon in the Marais. I like the way the shadows add depth to the food.
It tasted wonderful, too.