Laboratories, light and dark

I have a confession. I read cookbooks. A lot. I also cook everyday. I spend hours in my kitchen modifying and inventing new recipes. I read food blogs and magazines in a desperate attempt to discover a new twist on an old classic, something that will stick to my hands then bake up light and fluffy. I even download episodes from Gourmet magazine’s ‘Diary of a Foodie‘ and plan where to travel next based on the cuisine (next year, Tuscany, Italy).

In my kitchen, recipes are modified to combine seasonal foods with current cravings; sugar is replaced with fruits and juices, quinoa is added to baked goods, and almonds and oats are ground to be mixed with whole grain flours. Nuts and legumes soak in preparation for better digestion. Grains soak in large mason jars filled with water for several days before shooting small sprouts and producing a soured juice to make savory and sweet seed yogurts, breads, cakes, and muffins.

In order to reference recipe changes, I pencil ideas and substitutions in the margins of cookbooks and newly printed recipes from blogs and culinary websites. The kitchen has become my new laboratory, light instead of dark.

Upon reflection, the transition to the kitchen lab is natural given my former love for photographic darkrooms. I once spent hours developing negatives and prints teasing out details in both shadows and highlights. Under the slow red-orange light, I diluted chemical solutions with water brought to an exact temperature to create an image.

I’ve even set up several make-shift darkrooms in apartment closets and laundry rooms to satisfy my need to slop pungent developers, stop baths, fixers, and toners in trays. I would try to air out the tiny enclosures, angled fans pushing the toxic air through the thin perimeter between a door wrapped in black cloth and tape, without much success.

Each time, a mystery would unveil regardless of the noxious fumes. Negatives would surface from a tightly rolled metal reel, peeled open between two clothespins to dry. Then I would cut the rolls into five or six frames and load them shiny side up into a negative holder. Inside the enlarger, a negative frame was pressed between light and lens, and during its passage, shadows and highlights that appeared dark and light on film reverse to highlights and shadows once exposed. The blank page soaks in the image and through a series of chemical baths, an image surfaces.

And wine. Don’t forget the wine. 
Not only am I obsessed with planning and preparing food, but I’m also fascinated by the history and culture of food. Lat year, I began writing about food in a series of articles on local farms. From organic olive oil importers to raw milk dairy farmers, regional farmers are finding small market niches to compete with the rising costs of food.

Photos, food, and wine.

A lab, dark to light.


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