07 June 2009

A face only a cook would love or why my Provencale pork chops taste a whole lot better than they look

I've never claimed to be a wonderful photographer. Truth be told, my strengths lie in landscapes and cityscapes. Give me a good tree or sculpture (or a bad tree or sculpture) and I can usually get a good, if not interesting, image. Not gallery quality, mind you, but something I'm generally not embarrassed to have my name on. Here's an example...and another...and another (the gazpacho or the eggs benny).

Not so much so when it comes to my attempts at food photography. Yes, I do have moments when the stars align and I've captured colour, lighting and mood in such a way that I'm rather pleased. Every once in while whatever appears in my viewscreen is close to the composition I have in my head. I accept this and hope, that with practise, I'll have more good photos than bad.

Yet there is one foodish subject which I can never, ever photograph well: Pork.

I'm not talking about bacon or sausages. I'm referring to pork chops and pork loin.

I think the problem is it just doesn't enthuse me. When cooked, all I see is grey, pallid flesh...reminiscent of something I'd see on Six Feet Under, Pushing Daisies (WHY is that cancelled??) or Waking the Dead (on a boring episode). Yup. What I see is a roundish cadaver slab...unless, of course, I coat it in something crunchy or saucy.

But if I'm just grilling it or slicing through a roast...it's none too exciting.

It's not the piggy's fault he's visually unappealing.

He's very tasty and I'd be more than happy to share his juicy flesh with others. I'm just embarassed about the pictures. I mean look at that top image: doesn't it remind you somewhat of a dead person's hand, crawling out of a bog or something? It's not even a healthy person's hand. It's the hand of someone who's never really done anything except spent far too much time on a keyboard illuminated by a monitor's flickering blue light.

I guess you can say that it's got a great personality, but has a face only a cook could love (gee...I sympathise greatly).

So when it came to today's offering I tried to make it look less dead man like and more dead yummy. I must admit that I don't think I did a good job of it...my imagination was on strike, and all creativity was sidetracked by hunger. The only thing I could think of was to smoosh the chop in the Proven├žale sauce and photograph it. It does look better (I think).

It's very easy, but does take a good hour to put together. The tomato-mushroom sauce is quite easy to put together--but do keep your eye on it while you're simmering the chops. I didn't and the sauce became a little more caramelised than I'd like. It wasn't burnt, but another few minutes and it may have been.

Proven├žale pork chops
Four pork chops

1 Tbsp olive oil
400g sliced mushrooms
60ml red wine
1 onion, sliced into lunettes
1 small tin of tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
350ml chicken stock
salt and pepper

Brown pork chops and set aside.

Brown mushrooms in oliveoil and add onions. After onions have softened, add wine, garlic and stock, salt and pepper. Give it a good stir. Let simmer for about 5-10 minutes.

Nestle the chops into the pan, cover and let simmer for 30 minutes or untl the chops are fully cooked.


What I'm reading:
The Children's Book by A.S Byatt

I'm a quill for hire!

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maybelle's mom said...

while I do love Waking the Dead, I think that this pork was photographed well. I actually feel that way about chicken--it really can look bad. (I don't really make pork so I can't attest to that.)

K and S said...

looks delicious!

Kalyn Denny said...

I think meat in general is hard to photograph, but this looks tasty and that's what counts!

Unknown said...

The pork chops look delicious to me! BTW, Pushing Daisies is back on for three weeks starting Saturday May 30th.

Katerina said...

There is a really yummy braised pork chop recipe I make. It never photos well, but it tastes great so I empathize.

Sarah Caron said...

I think those look rather tasty ... but yes, pork is ultradifficult to photograph ... and sometimes chicken is too.

breadchick said...

There is something about pork that just doesn't photograph well but it sure eats good!

The Food Hunter said...

I think they look great.