Homework #4: Food and Status in History

Bill Brandt, Parlourmaid and Under-Parlourmaid Ready to Serve Dinner, c. 1934, from metmuseum.org

Bill Brandt, Parlourmaid and Under-Parlourmaid Ready to Serve Dinner, c. 1934, from metmuseum.org

The twentieth-century photographer Bill Brandt (1904-1983) took photographs of the servants working in wealthy households and coal miners in modest dwellings. His photographs often juxtaposed the working class and those with privilege. The images show the abundance of the upper classes, including the banker whose servants are pictured here about to serve dinner at a country home. Historically, the number of servants has long been equated to the status of the household, more help reflects greater importance. One of the most extravagant displays of status through food was the royal court of the French King Louis XIV at Versailles outside Paris. Watch an excerpt from a film by Roberto Rossellini, La Prise du Pouvoir par Louis XIV aka The Rise of Louis XIV (1966) that recreates the dinner service of Louis XIV. The excerpt is in French with English subtitles. Note how many cooks and servants are required to serve one man. In our own times, have you noticed how food can communicate status? at parties? weddings? or even picnics?  Post an example of how food can be make a social statement.

Watch the excerpt from Rossellini’s film here.



HW 3: Photographing Texture in Food

Food photography is all about texture and color. It is crucial to have a nice “feel” when looking at the image. The human eye can look at something and see details that the camera most likely can not capture so the photographer must use lighting to bring out the texture in order to make the dish look appeling and inviting. This is a picture of a Greek Moussaka – an eggplant-based dish, often including ground beef and tomatoes with cheese on top. My friend and I took this photograph while attending Smogasburg food market in Industry City Studios in Sunset Park. Moussaka has a delicious taste to it. Very tender, juicy and smooth. Grilled cheese and tomatos on top make the dish very appertizing. FullSizeRender (3)



When I thought about texture there was so many shapes, sizes and different looks of food items that I can think of but one of them that stand out to me the most was banana believe it or not. Banana is one of the most popular fruits that are known and the most eaten one I would say. When it comes to the texture of it there really not much to say about this perfect fruit since its just simple. Banana are yellow sometimes green or even brown but the shape of a banana stands out to me the most the way it is curves remind me of a boomerang for some reason. It is hard from the outside of the shell but when your are peeling the shell of the banana off it is soft and mushy with a lighter color of yellow. Bananas have a unique shape more then the texture on how it feels can be simple but the fruit it self has some unique feature but none the less bananas are my favorite fruit and they taste great.IMG_4792

Homework #3 Capturing texture in photography


I think everyone can agree that appearance plays a huge part in a food being appetizing to someone. When you take a photo of food you want that picture to encompass all the fine details that would make that food appealing to people. Texture plays a huge part in this. A good quality photo will should you the difference between two grains of rice, it will show you every single fault in a food, no matter the size. You can almost know exactly what eating something will be like by focusing on the texture in a picture.

Nothing hits the spot like a steamy, hot plate of pasta, especially Penne ala Vodka. I crave it at least once a week and almost always, my cravings stem from a good picture. You can see the creaminess of the sauce and the ridges on the penne. You can sense the thickness of the vodka sauce by focusing on how it sits in and on the pasta  rather than sliding off the way a watery sauce would. Just studying this picture, my appetite increases… I think its time for some Penne ala Vodka!



Whether it’s fruits, vegetables, meats or grains, they all have some kind of texture. When cooked the texture of the food changes. Texture adds flavor, a different appearance, and overall outlook on an item. On Sunday, October 11th, I went to the last day of Smorgasburg. It was my first time going there. I had the mindset to try new foods. I’m on a journey to expand my palate, expose myself to new things, and gain knowledge. In this picture here you have Monfongo. I’ve never tried monfongo, let alone heard of it so I said why not. Monfongo is sweet plantains mashed up into a bowl shape (to hold the contents), pork with a mild or spicy sriracha sauce. You can choose whether you want pork, chicken or beef.



  • I think texture adds versatility to food and photography. It expands the creative level of a simple dish. I chose to present a simple pan fried eggplant that I made in my Culinary Arts 1 class two weeks ago. It advances the level of skill to a simple and inexpensive vegetable, by coating with layers of texture such as the smooth coating of flour, followed by a coating of thick egg wash, and then a layer of bread crumbs for a crispy , cromby and coarse exterior. Texture also aids to the appeal of the eye. By adding a variety of different textures to a plate, it helps to be photographed well.image


I can say that the one thing that pops in my head when I think of texture is baked mac and cheese. I know I have said how I love cheese but a four cheese baked mac and cheese is amazing. The crunchy breadcrumbs on top baked to a nice golden brown and a nice gooey center. Although I haven’t had it in a while, my grandfather makes this to perfection.

The photo I have is from Sweet Bird in Harlem. The couple of times I have gone here I have gotten their mac and cheese and loved it. Melted cheese with more melted cheese makes me a happy customer. I think if I were to have a restaurant it would be “cheesy.” IMG_4771

Homework #3: Photographing the Texture of Food

tex·ture          /ˈteksCHər/       noun

  1. the feel, appearance, or consistency of a surface or a substance.
Olivier Richon, Acedia, 2012 (from http://ibidprojects.com/olivier-richon-6/)

Olivier Richon, Acedia, 2012 (from http://ibidprojects.com/olivier-richon-6/)

In class we discussed the wet-plate collodion process of mid-nineteenth century photography. The photo historian Helmut Gernsheim once referred to this collodion era as the “culinary period” of photography (Gernsheim, 1969, 258). Aside from the sticky collodion that photographers like Roger Fenton and Mathew Brady applied to their glass plates, photographers tried all sorts of ingredients to keep the collodion moist for longer periods of time, including treacle, malt, raspberry juice, milk, licorice juice, chestnut juice, beer, tea, and coffee.

For this week, I ask you to think about the idea of texture in food, and how does one capture texture in a photograph. The key to communicating texture in photography is to pay careful attention to detail. In this week’s homework, you get to practice taking a photograph, re-sizing it, and uploading it to our class website. For example, look at the photograph by contemporary photographer Olivier Richon and note how it gives you a sense of the texture of an egg, an object that we’ll be thinking about a lot this semester. Take a food-related photo (something you made or saw), resize it (follow the directions on how to resize you photo to smaller than 600 to 700 pixels here) and upload your photo to the class site with a short passage describing the texture of your food item.

In class, we also talked about the albumen process that makes use of egg whites. What happened to all those egg yolks? You can click here to see a recipe for a 19th-century photographer’s cheesecake.