Feast your eyes

Apr 11, 2007 at 12:00 am

People are weird about food. I know someone who seemingly has no problem pulling a cook's long black hair out of his hash browns at a greasy spoon, but gets totally grossed out if you don't wash "pre-washed" spinach well enough. It makes no sense.

Here's my thing: When I really, really like a meal, I don't eat it, I keep it. It sits in polystyrene in the fridge or wrapped up in the pantry, usually until I forget about it and it's no longer edible. The habit has something to do with preserving the dish for posterity. I've been "not enjoying" some pretty meals since I was a kid, when I used to trace my initials in cinnamon on the stuff I didn't want my older brother to touch.

One trend, taken on by a few folks around town, solves my dilemma: a photo food diary. Made even more popular by the digital camera craze, people everywhere are savoring food by snapping pics of memorable entrées.

Metro Times publisher Lisa Rudy has been photographing food for years. The walls of her Dearborn home are lined with framed photos of when she ate grilled sardines and frog legs in Paris. She's even gotten her brother in the game: This past Christmas, she bought him a William-Sonoma iron with his initials on it. Now, he e-mails her photos of T-bones and grilled chicken. They may taste great, but they look like they've been baked in the sun and rolled around on a recently repaved blacktop driveway. Rudy also inflicts her habit on her children. "When I went to Italy with my son, I'd be like, 'Wait! Don't eat that! ... Click.'"

She's not the only one: Local artist Gilda Snowden says she gets disdainful looks from her 14-year-old daughter whenever they're out at a restaurant and Mom pulls a camera from her purse.

"I want to capture both the food and the situation," Snowden explains. "I am interested in the arrangement, the beauty, the care taken by the chef to make the experience a visual as well as gastronomic pleasure. As an artist, I appreciate that to no end." It's easy to see how that explanation might be a tough sell for a mortified teen.

Lucky for her, artist Ann Gordon has to answer to no one when she shoots a portrait of a beastly burrito — although she says friends often make fun of her for how far she takes her love affair with food. "Ask anyone who has eaten with me about my 'gimpy' hand ... when I really like something, I get a crazy claw-like hand. I really think I should weigh 300 pounds by now." These food fans might seem queer, but one thing's for sure: They know how to make a good meal last a lifetime.

Rebecca Mazzei is Metro Times arts and culture editor. Send comments to [email protected]