I am not a big fan of people taking pictures of the food that they are about to consume in restaurants. I love food, and eating was one of my favorite activities in Paris, but I did not take pictures of our meals. There are some ways that I believe that digital cameras have ruined us, and part if it is because it makes it far too easy to take too many photographs of crap that no one else cares about, most notably the things that we consume. Now if you want to take a picture of the cake that you spent all day baking, then I am fine with that, because you had real labor going into making that cake. You worked hard for that, and you deserve to remember it. If you are posting a recipe, or if you are an actual professional food photographer employed by an actual real publication or are using the pictures as promotional material for the restaurant, you are fine too. I am just talking about taking pictures of the food you are about to eat just to show the world what you are eating. That drives me up the wall. Sitting next to people in restaurants who insist on documenting every course with a camera makes me crazy.
No one else cares about the food that we ate during our trip to Paris. And now, even though I enjoyed those meals tremendously, I don’t look back and think, if only I had taken a picture of all of that foie gras that I ate, then I would remember it. The pleasure of food doesn’t come from looking at it, it comes from eating it. If I would have taken three hundred pictures of that eight course meal, it wouldn’t do any good for recalling the flavors of it, and that is what matters.
So instead of pictures of food, I offer you the following series: pictures of David in restaurants where we ate. I always snapped one, before the food came or after our plates were cleared. If you want to remember the setting of the place and how you felt eating there, it is better to have people as the reminder of the source of emotions, not food.
David in Philippe et Jean Pierre in the 8th Arr.:
We liked people watching on that corner. From that vantage point we saw fashion of all varieties, and many reasons why you shouldn’t trust a French person to park your car in a city.
David in Les Ambassadeurs:
I think it is fair to say that this is probably the most opulent place I have ever eaten. I liked to imagine what it must have been like to spot Ernest Hemingway at the bar, but it was hard when Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, was at the table next to you. Then, there was the elderly orange-faced women at the table behind David (you can just see her in the red over David’s shoulder) and the thirty minutes of deliberation she undertook to pick cheeses when the cheese cart came around. It is possible too that David and I got a sneak preview of the Jean-Paul Gautier couture show, thanks to the fashion industry ladies sitting at the table behind me (who were talking about the problems of having to own real estate in Paris and New York). Sigh. These are the problems of the one percent among whom we dined. After all of that, I felt like I could join poor Ernest Hemingway at the bar, because after such a delicious meal in a beautiful place, I was somewhat depressed.
But nothing like dining next to a dachshund at Chamarre Monmartre to cheer you up, right David?
Hmmm, maybe David doesn’t like being my photography subject in restaurants either.
After taking a picture of him at L’Absinthe, I decided it probably is best to retire the camera at dinner times.
Instead, it is better to remind myself of the inappropriateness of cameras at meal times by re-reading this McSweeney’s letter.
The food was good y’all. Just take my word for it.