Monday, June 23, 2014

Lies, Damned Lies, and Food Photography (in which I use the word 'damn' a lot)

I've been giving a lot of thought recently to photography and food photography. Specifically, how it plays into our whole 'lies damned lies and Pinterest' theme.

Consider, for example, yesterday's dinner.

Yesterday's dinner was millet patties. Or, if you wanna get all fancy and pinteresty about it, "Savory Millet Cakes."Oooo lala. Doesn't that sound waaaaaay better than patties?

So back to photography. I took a couple of pictures of said cakes (because now I'm a food blogger and am virtually incapable of simply cooking and enjoying my food without taking a goddam picture of it). Consider, if you will, this:

It's got a certain 1970s quality, don't you think?
vs this:

I call this 'patties, deconstructed'

Here's the thing. IT'S THE SAME DAMN DISH. Exactly the same. Same taste. Same recipe. It's even the same view from the top of the plate (which I've recently learned is the thing to do in food pinteresty photos.

The difference? One got stylized, one did not. One got instagramed, one did not. One is square, the other is a rectangle. Same same.

And I'm fooled as much as the next guy. I think the first picture looks way more appealing than the second. If it were a cookbook, I would make the first dish over the second, anytime.

Dear readers, I'm torn. On the one hand, I want to EXPOSE ALL THE LIES on the pinterest, and show you that it's the FOOD and the TASTE that matters, and you should ignore the fancy photography and see it for the lies it really is!

On the other, I am tempted to go out right now and buy a fancy shmancy camera so my blog can get big and famous and I will write a book and then sell the movie rights and I will be played by Meryl Streep because I'll be old by then and I sure hope that she'll still be alive.

It's a quandary.One that might end up costing me a good thousand sheckels, at least. But the true cost is my SOUL. (Unless anyone wants to donate a fancy camera that they're not using?)

For now, I give you

Savory Millet Patties Stuff

(loosely based off of Eatingwell's Savory Millet cakes)

I like making millet sometimes so that I can get away from the trifecta of wheat, rice, and potato. That being said, it *is* hard to find millet outside of health food stores. So don't say I lied to you and claimed this was easy to find. Rice or potato would probably be an ok substitute.)
  • a few lugs of oil, maybe butter too
  • about 1/2 an onion
  • 1 cup millet
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 egg (optional)
  • some flour, wheat semolina, matza meal, or bread crumbs (optional, but good if you've added the egg)
  • green things
  • a bunch of cheese
  • 1 grated zucchini
  • about a tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • salt
  1. Boil the millet like you would rice - put some oil in a pot, heat, and fry the millet a tiny bit. In the meanwhile put the kettle up to boil. Stir the millet around in the oil for a minute or two, making sure not to burn. Then add 1 tsp salt and the boiling water - CAREFULLY. (Last night it splashed and got a bit of boiling water-millet all over the store that I have yet to clean up.) Turn to low, and cook until the water has completely evaporated but the millet is still mushy. Set aside.
  2. While the millet is cooling enough to handle, take a look at what you have in your fridge and/or freezer. (I like to keep cheese in my freezer, because it keeps forever and is just fine for cooking with.) Got some kind of cheese? Great, use it. Got some parsley that's almost dead? Great, use that too. Got some strange kind of chives that you're not sure what they're good for? Yogurt that's about to go bad but isn't yet? They can go in. Etc. This is a 'finish all the leftovers' kind of dish - it's (almost) all good. (Significant Other would accuse me here of lying, because he would try doing things like putting strawberry yogurt in, and then being very confused when I gag in disgust, and protest that I said it's all good. Hence 'almost.' If you're not sure, ask your local cooking expert.)
  3. Mix all the things except the oil/butter into a bowl and mash it together. I added an egg, but it really wasn't necessary, and then once I added the egg I needed to add some flour so it would stick together. If I did it again I'd skip the egg. 
  4. Fry, 3-4 minutes on each side. The trick to frying, I've learned, is a) NON-STICK PAN, because if you have a sticky pan, it almost always sticks. No way around it that I've found. I'd be happy to hear otherwise if you have; and b) Don't move the patties until they're nice and browned on each side. 
  5. Serve on bed of spinach to look fancy. Or with salad on side. Or with a fried egg on top. (But NOT with soy-milk fruit juice on the side. Turns out that's disgusting.)
  6. Eat. But not before you've made it look fancy and taken pictures of it.


  1. I tried making a variation of this with rice and it didn't work at all. I didn't use an egg and there was nothing to hold it together. I ended up turning it into a casserole.

  2. Oy, that's a shame. I've made rice patties before, and I think I did have to use an egg. My guess is rice - especially if you used long grain rice - is much less sticky than millet.