Photography: Nino Franco Photo Contest

... and the winner is ...

Photography: Heather Gill

A Chef, A Photographer. A Storyteller.

Comfort Food Contest Winner

A Comforting Italian Trifle

Photography: Stuart Ovenden

"It's all about the details!"

Welcome Back Bord Bia - Irish Food Bord

Name Sponsor for From Plate to Page

Welcome to From Plate to Page

Are you:

  • a food blogger who has been blogging for a while and feels stuck in a creative rut?

  • happy with your writing but feel your photography needs work - or vice versa?

  • tired of attending traditional format conferences where you are one of dozens of bloggers simply listening and taking notes ?

If so, then From Plate to Page is what you need!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Food styling and photography with Kelly Cline

Kelly is a self-taught photographer. Although she started shooting at around 13 and took a few photography classes, she has no formal education. Instead, she learned through experience, imitating images she liked from magazines and cookbooks and practised repeatedly until she got the light and focus just right.

Kelly Cline’s images are colorful, contrasting and different. Kelly loves food and her unique ability to harness light to highlight food naturally without any artificial means becomes apparent when one sees her images. But Kelly is not just a photographer, she is also the food stylist, prop stylist and recipe author and working so closely with all the aspects of the process means she profoundly understands food and is able to bring that to life in her photos.

Kelly is a Seattle based food photographer and stylist and has been working with and shooting food professionally for over 10 years. Her photography has been seen all over the world in advertising and in magazines such as Food & Wine, Bon Appetit and Oxygen.

We are really excited to welcome Kelly to the Plate to Page blog as she shares some of her valuable tips and takes us through her career. Thank you Kelly for joining us!







How I got started?

I became interested in photography at a very young age.  My grandfather handed me an old Kodak Brownie, the gray kind with the flash bulbs you had to replace that were filled with steel wool.  He would take us up to Mt Rainier where we would take photos of nature landscapes.  My Uncle was also a factor, as he was a pilot and photographer during WWII, he taught me how to make a pinhole camera out of a Quaker Oats box and how to develop the film in the darkroom.  After that, photography was deeply seeded into my creative interests, which also included drawing, painting and sculpture.

Sometime in my 20s I saw a Gourmet Magazine cover with an Apple Tart on the cover.  The cover has an apple tart on it, the apples laid out in a spiraling pattern with a sprig of thyme laid across the top.  I came from a home of simple, but delicious, comfort food.  My idea of an apple pie was a crust on top and a crust on the bottom.  I had never seen apple slices laid out naked with no crust to cover them before, it threw me for a loop.  A wonderful loop that began my plunging headlong into a world of discovering everything that is wonderful about food.

I bought the magazine and began re-creating the recipes like crazy.  I started making monthly visits to "upscale" dining establishments, the kind of places where the food came to you as a plated work of art.  The artist inside of me was impressed by the fact that food could be made to look so pretty and still taste amazing.

So now I had a decent amount of what I would call "Amateur Gourmet" cooking under my belt.  I would entertain friends and use them as guinea pigs for my latest creations.  I would try my hand at re-creating my own versions of the sculpturesque foods that I had fallen in love with.  It was one evening over one of these dinner that a friend said to me "I can not eat this, it is too pretty.  You have to take a picture first!"
And so I did.

I began taking pictures of most everything that I cooked and ate from that point on... long before the internet and long, long, before blogs.  I mostly used my clunky old Polaroid, as digital cameras were not around at that time.  I also made use of my 35mm from time to time as well.  I did not pay so much attention to lighting, focus or the little details early on, as I was really just trying to chronicle my culinary explorations.

Then one day, after perusing some more food magazines I decided to try my hand at actually "staging" a shot.  It was a silly shot of an apple pie, one of the few old food photos I have left from so many years ago.  And that is how it began.





Why you choose this field?

After 9/11 there were a lot of businesses that were hit hard.  The high-end Lithographers that i had worked for had to roll up their doors and I was left unemployed.  I felt that I was standing at a crossroads.  I could take a left and get in the employment line and try to scratch out a living in a time when jobs were scarce or just not paying enough because everyone was in the same boat.  Or I could take a right, and give photography as a career a go.  

I chose based on my passions, food and photography.  I was a foodie long before the term was popularized.  I love food, I love cooking it, discovering new ingredients and most of all photographing it.  I live by the motto: Do what you love, Love what you do.

Set small realistic goals for yourself, prepare for adjustment to your goals and even a little disappointment here and there.  It's completely normal to experience a few set backs about our own expectations, but just stick to your goals and re-evaluate them on a regular basis making changes where necessary.  Also, understand that you have to spend some time doing it, it won't happen over night.  Just remember to give yourself and your goal time to catch up to your expectations.




What has changed over the years in your point of view?

I think television and the Internet has really revolutionized the food industry in general.  The topic of food is readily accessible to a much broader audience than it was back in the 80s and 90s.  The amount of content on the web available that focuses on food casts a long shadow on publications in the days of old.  More people are talking about food and more people are interested in food.  If all these people were interested in the 80s and 90s, we didn't really know because we had been disconnected from our fellow food loving populace.  With the internet and modern technology in photography, we have an actual community that shares, teaches, gives and enjoys food together.  

From a styling and photography point of view - REAL food.  Fake food and overly styled food are slowly dying off and making way for images and styling that showcase the beauty of food in its natural state.  And this is a good thing, because the viewing audience is wise to tricks of old and just about anyone can tell the difference between a real ice cream cone and one made with mashed potatoes or non-melting sugar lard.





How has your style changed or developed?

I have certainly embraced natural light over the years.  It suits my style best.   I would say that although I have always styled my food "green" and do not use inedible additives to my photos, I would definitely say that styling using this method really has made an impact on my photography.  All-natural food styling forces me to think on my feet, because food has a very small window where it looks fresh.  With every new ingredient, I learn about it's window of freshness and how best to capture it.  

I started out styling food this way because I didn't have a money tree growing in the back yard and could not afford to waste food by making it inedible.  It all goes back to shooting what you are passionate about. If I were shooting a stack of pancakes covered in motor oil, I would be hard pressed to be motivated to make it look appetizing and delicious.  I would KNOW what it REALLY is and I can not... no scratch that - I will not make my camera lie about food.

I am constantly learning new things every single day.  It's one of the things that I love about what I do, there is always something new to learn and I am constantly changing and developing as I go.





One or two things you learned along the way:

Shoot what you have a passion for.  If I were passionate about cars I would shoot cars.  My passion is food, I truly believe that if you lack passion for the subject you shoot it will show in your image.  You cannot fake an interest in something.  It has to be there and it has to be from the soul.

Learning to kill your darlings.  Not every shot you take is going to be a winner.  You need to step out of your own head and take an objective look at your own work and know when to cut your losses and move on.  It happens to everyone.  Don't waste time trying to fix a bad shot in post-processing.  Cut your losses, kill your darlings, learn from your mistake and create something better.

Props are important.  Linens, rustic pieces of silverware, glassware, plates and dishes.  But you must remember to keep props relative to what you are shooting.  A pair of boxing gloves, a hair brush and a kid's toy have no place being used as props in a photo of say, a plated Steak dinner photo.  Pay attention to your props, you don't garnish a stuffed Thanksgiving Turkey with Strawberries and Watermelon wedges, for instance.  






Biggest lesson learned:  Attention to detail.  Every little drip, splash, smudge, dust and hair will be seen by the camera.  Keeping paper towels,  cotton swabs and a bottle of glass cleaner on hand is a must.

Photography and Styling: Kelly Cline 

Kelly Cline 
Professional Food Stylist  |  Food & Lifestyle Photographer

email  |  twitter  |  facebook

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Welcoming our newest batch of Tuscany sponsors


If you have been keeping an eye on your calendar, as we here at Plate to Page HQ have been, you will have noticed that we are now down to less than 2 weeks to go until we welcome the Plate to Page Class of Tuscany to Pistoia!  We’re busy finalising menus, putting the finishing touches to presentations, and making sure that we have thought of everything to give participants the best experience we possibly can.  As you can imagine, excitement is reaching fever pitch among the presenters - and it seems that we are not the only ones who are excited about the Plate to page project.  Since our last post announcing the Plate to Page Tuscany sponsors, we are thrilled to announce that a raft of other sponsors have come on board, all of them filled with enthusiasm for Plate to Page and keen to support us.  Thanks to their generosity, we have realised that we are going to need a pretty special bag for you to carry all your goodies home in - and just look what a beautiful, stylish job Druckpunkt Weimar did.  It would be an asset to any foodie’s wardrobe!




Before introducing them, of course we would like to say a huge thank you to all our sponsors - without the support and generosity of these companies, Plate to Page would not be the same and we really do appreciate the faith that they have in the workshop. You rock our world! With that said, let’s have a look at our latest sponsors and see what some of the goodies are that will be filling up those gorgeous bags:

PEPPADEW® 


Peppadew
The South African company, Peppadew International, markets a range of Peppadew Pepper products (including Hot, Mild and Sweet Piquanté peppers filled with cream cheese) under the Peppadew brand. Their secret recipe for preserving the versatile fruit delivers the perfectly balanced sweet and spicy taste and trademark crispy texture which together have created a culinary adventure around the world. 

Found in South Africa, these unique sweet piquanté peppers have been processed, bottled and marketed by Peppadew International in Tzaneen under their contemporary and innovative Peppadew brand. An unwavering commitment to quality and social responsibility sees the Peppadew International team working with horticultural, farming, transport, processing and packaging specialists to ensure that every time you open a Peppadew product you get the unmistakable Peppadew taste and texture.  With no preservatives, no gluten, low calories and a 24 month shelf life, it’s no wonder that Peppadew now has fans around the globe – but their best feature remains their taste, perfectly balanced between sweet and spicy crisp frutiness. Peppadew products are widely available in a number of European countries as well as the UK and the USA.

BISOL PROSECCO


Bisol is a family-owned winery which has been producing high-quality prosecco sparkling wines wines in the Veneto region of Italy near Venice since 1875, although reccords show the family already growing grapes here 5 centuries ago. Today, the Bisol company owns a total of 125 hectares spread out over 35 plots, nestled in the steep hills that lead from Valdobbiadene towards Conegliano, the most prestigious area of the appellation. The land is extremely fragmented and studded with small plots, so much so that the average size of each property is little more than a hectare. The 3 hectares possessed by Bisol on the Cartizze hill, the most precious vineyard in Italy where prices can reach €1 million per hectare, is their crowning glory.

The winery is currently managed by Antonio and Eliseo Bisol together with their sons Gianluca and Desiderio; and Claudio and Alberto. The family supervises every step of the winemaking process from grape to glass, from taking care of the  vineyards, to supervising the low-yield harvest, to bottling and aging the dozen or more different wines made by the company. Bisol is one of the few wineries in the area to produce sparkling wines using both the Charmat Method and the Methode Champenoise, and has long been recognized as an innovative presence in the Prosecco region. Bisol wines are available through independent distributors and selected wine shops worldwide.

Riso Gallo is one of the largest rice producers in Europe and one of the oldest rice-growing concerns in Italy, producing rice for over six generations.  The extensive product range includes the three best known risotto rice varieties: Arborio, Vialone Nano and Carnaroli, as well as other speciality rices and gluten-free pasta.  Products are widely available throughout Europe and are available in the UK from Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Coop, Morrisons, Tesco, Budgens and Booths stores nationwide. 

Risotto Pronto is a product that's ideal for families, professionals or anyone looking for that
wonderful creamy, al dente taste found in the traditional Italian cuisine, with no fuss and half the time.  The nutritious range contains no artificial colourings or preservatives and comes in packs serving 2 people – available in Wild Mushroom, Four Cheeses, Saffron and Asparagus. For inspiration try a few of these delicious combinations:

  • Add cooked chorizo to Four Cheese Risotto Pronto, for a delicious risotto with a kick.
  • Include some cooked tiger prawns and a squeeze of lemon juice to Saffron Risotto Pronto to create a sophisticated main course.
  • Finish the Asparagus Risotto Pronto with cooked peas and mint for a fresh dish that’s, full of both colour and flavour.


NIELSEN-MASSEY


With over a century of experience, family-managed company Nielsen-Massey produces one of the best vanilla extracts in the world from their base in Waukegan, Illinois.  Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract is made from the finest Madagascan vanilla beans that are hand-picked, cured and put through a cold extraction process, which slowly and gently draws the vanilla 
from the bean, preserving the delicate flavour. Gourmet food shops and fine grocers stock Nielsen-Massey's vanilla products on their shelves for discriminating consumers who appreciate the art of fine cooking and baking.

The company's new line of Pure Extracts (including flavours such as coffee extract, orange blossom water, chocolate extract and rose water) is about to be released in the UK and contains natural botanic oils in an alcohol base for the cleanest flavour and purity and are made to the same stringent quality standards as the Pure Vanilla Extracts.



TABASCO® brand products are made by McIlhenny Company, founded in 1868 on Avery Island, Louisiana, and still family-owned and operated on the same site. Original TABASCO® brand Pepper Sauce was created in the mid-to-late 1860s by Edmund McIlhenny who was given seeds of Capsicum frutescens pand thrived on the island. McIlhenny decided to create a pepper sauce to give his food some spice and flavour, mixing his best peppers with Avery Island salt and aging this mash for 30 days in crockery jars and barrels. The mash was then blended with French white wine vinegar and aged the mixture for at least another 30 days. The sauce was bottler in small cologne-type bottles with sprinkler fitments, corked with green wax - and this packaging has hardly changed today.  

Over 140 years later, TABASCO® Sauce is still made on Avery Island, Louisiana - in fact, about half of the company’s 200 employees actually live on Avery Island, with many of their parents and grandparents having worked and lived there as well.  The sauce is also made much the same way except now the aging process is up to three years in white oak barrels and the vinegar is high quality distilled vinegar. Labeled in 22 languages and dialects, sold in over 160 countries and territories, added to soldiers’ rations, and put on restaurant tables around the globe, it is the most famous, most preferred pepper sauce in the world. Today the product range includes the original sauce as well as Jalapeno, Habanero and Chipotle flavours as well as Bloody Mary mixes, barbecue sauces, and spicy snacks.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Paula Walters, prop stylist







Paula Walters was one of the Weimar Plate To Page sponsors, sending fantastic props over the ocean for us to play with and we are very happy to have her as a guest blogger here on our P2P blog. Paula Walters has the inherent styling talent to find genuine balance between subject and set. She has a true eye for detail, vintage and contemporary elements are artfully combined,organic tones and textures entice the viewer to linger and explore. Her style celebrates perfection in the natural imperfections of food and still life. Working instinctively, Paula draws on more than 20 years experience styling and producing for many of Chicago's most successful food and product photographers. She is continually sourcing unique elements for her shots, and regularly creates backgrounds and props to further personalize her styling visions. With an endless passion for her work, every job becomes a welcome challenge to explore and push her talents, and yet another opportunity to style an unforgettable image. You find her website here.

Working with a professional food photographer and art director is quite a different dynamic than creating images on your own. As a freelance photo stylist, I am initially hired by the photographer based on the work he or she has seen in my portfolio. The first shoot together can have some anticipation between both the photographer & myself as a stylist. Some projects are very cut and dry, where the props and backgrounds are specifically outlined by the advertising agency or client, and then I’m pretty much gathering a selection within the parameters of what is requested. With styling experience, good prop sources, and a full understanding of the layout, these are easier projects with which to start a photographer‐stylist relationship. It is more challenging when a shoot offers creative freedom. Then I have to find the balance between the vision of the photographer and my own interpretation. On paid assignment, I always will follow the lead of the shooter and start with trying to interpret their vision. Beyond that, I expand my prop selections to bring in some of my own style and ideas. A strong working relationship between a photographer and their prop stylist is one of great synergy and trust, a true meeting of creative minds, and an ability to draw from each other and build on a combination of both talents.
Within the course of a week, I may find myself working with several photographers at various studios. That means different personalities, different studio procedures, different styles to account for when selecting the props. As a photo stylist, you first need to have a strong sense of who you are, your strengths and weaknesses, and develop a visual style that is the foundation for all your assignments. And then you have to be ready to bend, and channel your talents to what your photographer is requesting of you. Without this self confidence your work fails to thrive.






The majority of my assignments are for advertising, ranging from national ads to sales brochures, recipe books, retail packaging, and a great amount of recipe photography for website usage. The amount of actual direction I get from the photographer and art director varies greatly. National ads are probably the most highly orchestrated productions, because of the great visibility and expense involved in placing these images in the public eye. There is a full creative team that presents us with a layout for direction, and by the time we receive it the concept has been approved by the client. They have a pretty concise idea of the feel the props and lighting should convey. We may have 2‐3 pre‐production meetings on a single ad, and I often have to shoot the prop selections so the client & agency can approve before the actual shoot day. Large ad agencies like to have lots of prop options to choose from. It can be quite a process! Packaging photography is also tightly controlled by the agency creative team. Propping is minimal, but the art director will be looking at the configuration of the bowl or plate and paying close attention to the shape and proportion of the vessel holding the food product. I may be given a layout with a white bowl of cereal, but know I have to get 20‐30 bowls of various heights, widths, pottery thicknesses, shades of white, shape configuration. It is that critical. Great packaging images equal great sales, it has to be right. Recipes for website usage usually have more creative freedom. With those projects, a client usually has a look based on their customer profile, and we use that as a guideline for creative direction.







In commercial photography, I have seen the role of the art director change through the years. These days, with agency cut backs, they are often juggling several projects at any given time and don’t have the luxury to explore the creative as much as I’m sure they’d like to. We sometimes get drawn marker comp renderings of a layout, but more are done with stock photography dropped in to a layout for general direction. They count heavily on the photographer and stylist to present ideas for the physical look of the shot. For the most part, because the agency has chosen a team whose style fits the project, things run very smoothly. Every so often I will have the opportunity to work with someone truly creative, willing to push the envelope in terms of direction. Collaboration on that level is always exciting.








Even though photo styling is  profession, it is still my art. Most of the photographers, art directors, and food stylists I work with feel the same way. It is truly amazing when you get a great team together on a food set. It’s nothing short of magic. Most bloggers will have to start doing it all on their own, but that is excellent groundwork to sharing your responsibilities with someone further down the line, and devoting your personal time & talents to where your passion really lies.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Weimar Sponsors

Principal Sponsor 

 BordBia_logo

Bord Bia (the Irish Food board) is the Irish food, drink and horticulture industry’s trade development and promotion organisation. It has its headquarters in Dublin, but also has international offices in Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, London, Madrid, Milan, Moscow, New York, Paris and Shanghai. Established in 1994, the Bord Bia aims to grow the success of Ireland's world class food, drink and horticulture industries by providing strategic market development, promotion and information services; and acting as a link between Irish food, drink and produce suppliers, and existing and potential customers throughout the world. As well as operating a quality assurance scheme for beef, pork and bacon and egg products, Bord Bia's objective is to develop export markets for Irish food and drink suppliers and to bring the taste of Irish food to more tables world-wide.



Sponsors 

 

Wines of South Africa – WOSA

wosa logo 1


WOSA is the non-profit, umbrella organisation that globally represents the South African wine industry and their slogan, 'Variety is in our nature', celebrates the unique
diversity of premium quality wine, the South African people, its landscapes, exquisite natural habitat and, of course, its food.

Established in its current form in 1999, Wines of South Africa has over 500 exporters on its database. It is totally independent of any producer, wholesaling company or government department, although it is recognized by government as an Export Council. Wines of South Africa is responsible for marketing South African wines in all countries where the wines are sold in significant quantities, including the UK (the leading market for South African wine exports), Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands. More recently, Wines of South Africa has also been developing markets for South African wines in the United States, Canada, Russia, and Asia.

The organisation is also responsible for bringing 'brand South Africa' to life and encouraging wine lovers everywhere to experience the amazing diversity of wines South Africa has to offer.


La Maison Georges Larnicol


Logo_Larnicol

Since winning the prestigious title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 1993, Georges Larnicol, Master Pastry Chef and Chocolatier, has been creating outstanding pastries and chocolates, never ceasing to surprise !

Remaining true to his Breton origins and following in his father’s footsteps, Georges Larnicol produces artisan quality pastries and chocolates using only the finest, most rigorously selected, all natural ingredients, resting faithful to local producers : organic flour, butter, coarse salt and seaweed from Brittany. Alongside their wonderful Breton specialties, such as buttery Kouignettes and Kouign Amann, crispy galettes and palets, their colorful, delicately flavored macarons and chocolate confections continue to delight! Whether a small treat or a special occasion, La Maison Georges Larnicol distinguishes themselves with sumptuous, artistic creations and sculptures in chocolate.

La Maison Georges Larnicol have very generously offered Kouignettes to each Plate to Page participant: a specialty of Brittany, these individual, mini-Kouign Amann are made from pure butter and sea salt, bringing the flavor of Brittany to Weimar! Created in 16 different flavors, one for every taste, Kouignettes are best eaten warmed for the perfect treat.

Ergo Chef Knives 

2.5inch ergo_chef_logo copy


Ergo Chef is revolutionizing the culinary industry with ergonomic cutlery that matches user comfort with the highest quality craftsmanship. Their signature ergonomically-angled handle design keeps the hand and forearm in a straighter line, so there’s less strain on the hand, wrist and forearm. All the knives are forged from one piece of high-carbon German steel, so there’s no chance they’ll snap in two. They’re also precision heat-treated for long edge life. Ergo Chef backs its Pro-Series Cutlery with a 30-day money back guarantee and a lifetime warranty.

Sweet Pete’s

SweetPetslogo


Sweet Pete's is an all natural sweet shoppe located in Jacksonville,
Florida. The founder of Sweet Pete's, Peter Behringer, grew up in the
confectionery business as his mother owned a chocolate shop when he was a
child.

Peter believes in making candies and chocolates the old fashioned way in
small handmade batches with all natural ingredients. Sweet Pete's also
specializes in gluten free and vegan sweets.

Hotel Chocolat
 
HC_sq_cocoa_grower_100k

Hotel Chocolat continues to be a British-owned phenomenon brazenly committed to real, authentic chocolate. Head to Hotel Chocolat, luxury British Chocolatier and Cocoa Grower. Immerse yourself in the stylish chocolate 60+ shops in the UK, USA and Middle East. Discover Hotel Chocolat's devotion to making exciting, adventurous chocolate by unearthing exceptional ingredients and using plenty of passion. Why not come and find out for yourself, drop in and bliss out with a free in store chocolate tasting or go to www.hotelchocolat.co.uk

Prokit UK


Prokit

Prokit is a UK-based company specialising in camera, lighting, video production and sound equipment; years of specialist knowledge and experience allows Prokit to advise upon and supply a large selection of leading brands. Prokit is also the largest European distributor of Lowel Ego lights, holding a comprehensive stock of the entire range.

Paula Walters


paulawalters

Paula Walters has the inherent styling talent to find genuine balance between subject and set. With a true eye for detail, vintage and contemporary elements are artfully combined,organic tones and textures entice the viewer to linger and explore. Her style celebrates perfection in the natural imperfections of food and still life. Working instinctively, Paula draws on more than 20 years experience styling and producing for many of Chicago's most successful food and product photographers. She is continually sourcing unique elements for her shots, and regularly creates backgrounds and props to further personalize her styling visions. With an endless passion for her work, every job becomes a welcome challenge to explore and push her talents, and yet another opportunity to style an unforgettable image.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Sam Woulidge: confessions of a hungry woman





Sam Woulidge is a freelance journalist who considers herself really lucky to have landed a column in one of South Africa's foremost food magazines, Taste.  She once edited entertainment magazines (Cape ReviewCape etc.) relating to life in Cape Town, South Africa - a city which she adores and she was also the founding editor of Time Out Cape Town. But obviously she likes the food writing gig the most.  Today she tells us about her journey to become a food writer and shares some of her favourite food writing quotes. 

I was the last in my class to get a reading book. I was according to the teacher, ‘too slow to read’. She made me nervous with her flashcards and angry eyes. And so written words were frightening. A few years later another teacher opened up the book cupboard in her classroom for me, telling me that if I read, I would never be alone.
  
And so I think that’s why we read. To escape. But also to know that we are not alone. To recognize an emotion as described by someone else, and realize that they too were, sad, frightened, happy, hungry, turned on…
And I think that’s why I write, to tell people about the time that I was sad, frightened, happy, hungry, turned on. Writing reaches people.
  
I am not a novelist. I have the greatest admiration for their creativity and determination, but I doubt that I have a novel in me. I write what I know. What I feel. But writing is hard. Especially if you have self-doubt. Because you will never feel that your words are good enough. It took me a long time to eventually become a journalist, I waited until I was almost 30 before attempted to write. I was too afraid to start, I case I should fail. I still feel that way later, 12 years on. Every time I begin writing, I hope that I’ll be good enough, that I won’t fail. My husband, Jacques, responding to my many bouts of writer’s block thinks I’m ‘beautifully complex’, my mentor, Joan, practically encourages ‘completion not perfection’. I trust both of them. And myself eventually. I believe in The Muse. She waits inside of you, until the anxiety stills, and then breathing softly, she reminds you to write with your own voice. Because that’s how you should write, with your own voice.  Write the way you speak. To do any differently would be akin to having a conversation in another, faux, accent. Impressive perhaps. Amusing maybe. But not authentic. And what this world needs is authenticity. It needs authenticity much more than it needs good grammer.
  
I fell into food writing by chance. I’ve always though of myself as an editor, first and foremost, as that’s what I’ve been for most of the past 12 years. I’ve worked with some great South African writers, which means that I’m always extra critical of myself, because I know and recognize good writing and because I wanted to see my words in print for so long, that to be careless with them would be disrespectful to myself and to those who read what I write. When I left full-time employ to travel the world five years ago with my seafaring husband, Sumien Brink, editor of one of the foremost South African food magazines, Taste, gave me the most glorious of all gifts, she asked me to write a column about my travels and food. And so Confessions of a Hungry Woman became my way of writing about our adventures abroad, the people we met and the food we ate. It also became a tribute to those I love, because food is intrinsically linked with those we love. Once I started, it seemed natural to write about food. I’ve never professed to be a great cook, in fact, if I had to define myself, it would be to say I’m a comfortable cook. But I do love food and the happy-sad-mystery of life and, somehow, for me the two have always been intertwined.
  
And eventually the monthly column also morphed into a blog by the same name. It’s a diary I visit occasionally. I really should do so more often. We all should because blogging reaches people, it is personal and immediate and something that appeals to all voyeurs. And who amongst us are not voyeurs? I like looking into people’s houses when I walk past, like to imagine their lives inside. With blogging you don’t need to imagine. Blogging also works on the Karma principal. Act like an arsehole, and you’ll attract arseholes. But if you write and publish with good intent you will experience the beautiful kindness of strangers. Here endeth the lesson….
  
  
The Hungry Woman’s Literary Hot List


  
In Gael Greene’s Insatiable – Tales from a Life of Excess, she writes about what happened to her after a sexual encounter with Elvis Presley.
‘As I picked up my purse, wondering if a good-bye kiss would be appropriate, Elvis opened his eyes, blinked, as if he wasn’t sure for a moment what I was doing there. He twitched a shoulder toward the phone. “Would you mind calling room service and ordering me a fried egg sandwich?” The fried egg sandwich – that part I remember. I can’t remember how big it was, how long the sex lasted, or even who was on top (probably me). But I have never forgotten the fried egg sandwich.’
AA Gill writing about eating a pomegranates for the first time when he was a young boy in boarding school in Table Talk.
‘The flavor of pomegranate is ineffably sad. It’s the taste of mourning, of grief mixed with happy memory. I couldn’t have picked a better metaphor for how I felt about being away from home, about the girl who kissed me, about my life and body changing from boy to young man. I’d like to say that I understood all this, that I realized that the fruit was a symbolic catharsis, an allegory, but I didn’t. I did, however, learn that nice things given when you’re unhappy can make you sadder, and that the flavor of sweetness counterpoints bitter-salt sourness.’
Isabel Allende’s opening sentence in Aphrodite – the love of food & the food of love – is one my favourite sentences of all time.
‘I repent of my diets, the delicious dishes rejected out of vanity, as much as I lament the opportunities for making love that I let go by because of pressing tasks or puritanical virtue.’
Nigel Slater in Toast – the story of a boy’s hunger – writes heartbreaking stuff.
‘My mother is buttering bread for England. The vigour with which she slathers soft yellow fat on to thinly sliced white pap is as near as she gets to the pleasure that is cooking for someone you love.’
Ruth Reichl throws down the gauntlet in Garlic and Sapphires – the secret life of a critic in disguise – with the following:
“ ‘You gonna eat that?’
The woman is eyeing the tray the flight attendant has just set before me. I can’t tell if she wants reassurance that I find it as repellent as she does or if she is simply hungry and hopeful that I will hand my food over. I loosen my seatbelt, swivel in my narrow seat, and see that her face holds a challenge. Is she daring me to eat the food?”
Anthony Bourdain being surprisingly gentle in Medium Raw – a bloody valentine to the world of food and the people who cook -  writes about the pains raisins of a small Parisian boulangerie:
‘The baguettes are ready – piping-hot from the brick oven, fabulously, deliberately ugly and uneven in shape, slashed crudely across the top. They’re too hot to eat but you grab one anyway, tearing it open gingerly, then dropping two fingers full of butter inside. It instantly melts into liquid – running into the grooves and inner spaces of white interior. You grab it like a sandwich and bite, teeth making a cracking sound as you crunch through the crust. The reaction is violent. It hurts. Butter floods your head and you think for a second you’re going to black out.’