Posted by: Rachel | October 22, 2010

first impressions

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” I’m not absolutely sure that this is true, but I do know that first impressions can count for a lot.

I was lucky this week to visit an outcropping of the Griffin Photography Museum and enjoy an exhibit of photographs titled “Food Cycles”. The photographer, Francine Zaslow, has a fascinating take on food as art. Her images, which are on display at the very intimate gallery at Digital Silver Imaging in Belmont, Massachusetts, are intriguingly delicious.

You must understand that these are *my* first impressions of her work. I love these silvery visions, so removed from glossy food magazine and cookbook portrayals of perfect doneness. This isn’t food in the “we eat with the eyes” sense exactly, it is food as art, and being a pragmatist (and foodie, I guess) I asked the folks at the gallery if the subjects of the photographs had in fact been eaten after the shoot.

I was assured that nothing had gone to waste, and gee, I wish I’d been there! The cooked art was prepared (if I understood correctly) by chef David Remillard, and the prop stylist, Beth Wickshire gets high marks for the bowls, platters, skillets, and scoops she brought to the table.

I have to tell you that I don’t understand how they do what they they do at DSI to turn warm food into cool prints. Their site says “Digital Silver Imaging offers a unique printing process that provides beautiful fiber-based and resin-coated black & white silver gelatin prints directly from digital files.” but I think its some sort of magic. In any event, I loved the exhibit. Her “Belt Fish l” makes me wish I was a Pisces, and her “Silkie Chickens” could be dragon embryos. (Again, *my* first impressions, ok?)

I suppose for some folks the chicken feet might be a bit, um, graphic, but they surely do make good soup. And, (especially if you read last week’s post) you have to know I love her photographs of sea salt. The quail eggs, showcased with their duck egg cousins, appear unimaginably delicate.

So, I am thinking that overall my first impressions were wow and yum and wow, pretty much in that order. I hope you get to visit the gallery or at least visit her web site and see what she’s up to.

I leave you today with an appetizer suggestion, enjoy it and let your guests form their own first impressions.

Shrooms ‘n Eggs

1 dozen quail eggs
1 dozen mushroom caps (Crimini or button about 2-inches across each)
2 T butter
4 or 5 cherry tomatoes sliced very thin
fresh grated Parmesan
black pepper
(fresh basil or thyme, optional)

Sauteé the mushroom caps in butter until soft. Place them gill-side up in a broiler-safe baking dish or on a cookie sheet. Slice the cherry tomatoes very thin, and lay one slice in each cap. Gently open the quail eggs (**see below) and place one in the cavity of each mushroom cap on top of the tomato slice. Slide under the broiler until the eggs are just set (1 or 2 minutes). Top with a pinch of cheese, a grind of pepper and a bit of chopped fresh herbs if desired.

** To open quail eggs, use a sharp small knife. Hold the egg and gently cut a “ring” about a quarter of the way down the egg with the knife. Pop the top off and Bob’s your uncle.

Fresh quail egg shells are not as hard as a chicken egg shell, so a sharp knife will cut the shell pretty easily, but “cracking” them like a chicken egg will not work well in my experience. Quail eggs are available at many large groceries or specialty or Oriental markets. They are very mild in flavor and adorable.
***

No photos from me this week. I’m overwhelmed with the images I’m still trying to digest! And, I think I must disagree with Paul Simon when he claims that “everything looks worse in black and white”. Hmmm… your thoughts?

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