ITEM TWENTY THREE: The Serving Bowl. Big and green and filled with marshmallows, the bowl from the yard sale cost four dollars.
ITEM TWENTY TWO: The Rough Painted Bowl. Sometimes it helps to have a bowl that is a little rough around the edges. With a little chip or scrape, it looks like it has a bit of experience. Sometimes I want to convey that experience, like with this rough painted bowl with the rice and pickled carrots within shot here in Old Town Albuquerque where everything seems to have a little chip or scrape earned through the experience of over 300 years. One thing that my experience as a food photographer taught me is that you can easily line up your pickled carrots in a neat row if you use a toothpick. Come on, don’t be a toothpick hater.
ITEM NINETEEN: The Stoneware Plate. Heavy and handmade, with pits and impurities, my new stoneware plate has a rough quality that matches rough-edged foods. Given to me by my friend Megan, she said she liked the minty green. She said that orange foods would really pop on it, which they would, but I don’t have any orange foods to photograph today, and orange is so tough to rhyme. Plus, I have a plan which is these ice cream sandwiches.
ITEM EIGHTEEN: The Toothpick. It is not too much of a stretch to say that food photography prior to the digital revolution owes everything to the lowly toothpick. Indispensable, undetectable, disposable; a pack of 250 were on sale tonight for 79 cents. Seen here holding together two pieces of green chile bratwurst, ladies and gentlemen- the toothpick.
ITEM SEVENTEEN: The Bamboo Spoon. For the moment, I have sidestepped the whole issue of a wooden spoon. A good, seasoned wooden spoon for sauces is elemental for a chef, passed down through generations in some families, the wood type debated, the shape argued over, but I am not a chef, I am a food photographer, I’m not looking for tools that make food taste good, I’m looking for tools that make food look good. So today I found three new large bamboo spoons for $2.99. My favorite is this haphazardly asymmetrical one with a slight concave. I have to say, it looks pretty good with the rice and sesame seeds in the backyard of the Albuquerque studio.
ITEM FIFTEEN: The Pewter Platter. So maligned is the pewter platter that it garners no more than a dollar from the church sale. Let me say though, in the defense of this base metal, that pewter has a quality overlooked by snobs seeking shiny, pretty things, rather than the underbelly slag-filled late night sandwiches of kings. Ugly as it is, the Elvis Sandwich, with the triumvirate of bacon, peanut butter and banana fried in bacon grease, adds a convert with every bite. Today, the king reigns in another, holding high my new pewter platter in the early evening in Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
ITEM FOURTEEN: The Plastic Deli Container. Ubiquitous yet indispensable, the plastic deli container is available in a variety of sizes and has revolutionized food storage, transportation and sales. Somewhere between when they stopped putting Big Macs in Styrofoam boxes and today, these clear plastic, throwaway containers showed up in the service of a hungry public too hurried to get a plate. In a well appointed food photography studio, stacks of these await moving foods. At the local grocery store here in Albuquerque, a plastic deli container can be had for all of seven cents complete with the fishmonger’s choice of the single best looking, fully cooked, wild caught, Chinese crawfish.
ITEM THIRTEEN: The P-38. I would be remiss if I didn’t include in this collection an item that I almost forgot that I had on me, but have reached for in my pocket instinctively since I was a teenager every time the need arose- the P-38. Ounce for ounce, you’d be hard pressed to find an item that has met the needs of more hungry American soldiers than the P-38. Designed in WWII to open food cans, you will still find the P-38 on the key-chains of veterans of a certain age because it continues to perform the same job with the exact same precision without rusting, sharpening or breaking more than 70 years later. Issued to G.I.s until the advent of the MRE ration in the Eighties, food photographers in the self service can pick one up like I did new for 50 cents at a military surplus store.
ITEM TWELVE: The Cheese Knife. There is a world to cheese knives that if I as a food photographer had a cheese client I would gladly get into, but as the New Dish Collection is something of a thirty-dish overview, my new 25 cent cheese knife will suffice for now. These knives are paired with the hardness of cheese and often have a shape honed over time. In this case, I’ve paired this with an Irish Cheddar that looks at home next the wood barrel here on the plaza in Old Town, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
ITEM ELEVEN: The Egg Cup. Like a corseted Victorian, what this new egg cup of mine lacks in practicality, it makes up for in elegance. 25 cents at the thrift store (whose name I was recently encouraged not to reveal lest people swarm in and grab all the good stuff), the egg cup almost seems like a throwback to an earlier food time before the fear of salmonella cast a shadow over the soft-boiled egg. Fear not, I know this chicken and her blue eggs, photographed here in Old Town Albuquerque, New Mexico.