Friday, April 29, 2016

On Food and Photos

Camera Happy. 

Like most food obsessed, the Sofra editors take pictures of food. (Okay, full confession -- it's mostly Rose, but Katherine does, too). 

Nearly every family meal is accompanied by the snap of my iPhone camera and the admonishment to my hungry brood not to touch anything, including their forks, until I've taken the shot. 

Early morning breakfast with sweet potatoes from the garden

I sporadically post my food photos on Instagram or Facebook. For now I'm not really "doing" anything with them, even though I do feel compelled to make albums of our meals. Part of this is because who doesn't get overwhelmed by gorgeous meal ideas on Pinterest? Do I really want to add my humble photos to the sandpile of images? The other reason is sometimes ideas need time to stew. And not everything we document is ready to be immediately consumed. Like a flavor to be savored, it needs to steep and develop over time. Sometimes a daily chronicle, a ritual, is just the thing we need to feel connected and alive, to see the beauty in ordinary things.

My mother-in-law's sofra

Though I'd be hard-pressed to say the Turkish sofra is ordinary. Rich, lush colors of zeytinyağlı olive oil dishes meld with the crispy skin of grilled fish and crumbly amber helva. The photos I take show changing flavors and seasons over time. Chili and warm baked casseroles that herald from my Midwestern upbringing in winter lending way to fresh veggies from the garden and lighter soups and salads. If a picture still makes me hungry months later, I know that's a recipe to keep. Notoriously bad at writing down my recipes, the photos help me recreate favorites later.

Sunday morning breakfast

Drop in for a visit at our family table and you might find sesame-encrusted chicken rolled in lettuce leaves one night, or palm-sized crusty lahmacun sprinkled with herbs and ground beef another. My Turkish-American kids must have it in their genes that french fries are the best thing ever, but they will look at me aghast if I run out of homemade yogurt, the unsweetened kind. Because everyone knows that you can't eat rice without enormous dollops of yogurt on top of it.

Come join us sometime. I've got my camera ready. Just don't pick up your fork until you hear the click.