Archive for the ‘Language and food’ Category

Fantasy food

November 5, 2020

For some time now, a suite of afflictions (I omit the very unpleasant details) has prevented me from handling any truly solid food. A couple days ago I prepared a standard comfort sickroom food, plain white rice. My first solid food in a long time. And it was good. I still have no taste for anything more complicated. So I look forward to Thanksgiving (just a few weeks from now), and my now-standard Thanksgiving meal — see below — and it just seems unimaginable to me now, like fantasy food, though I have dreams about it.


Halloween still lifes

October 30, 2020

A pair of still lifes — digital compositions — by Stephanie Shih for Halloween, with the customary flowers in vases, prominently supplemented by Halloween candy: a large lollipop on the left, a candy stick on the right:

(#1) Stephanie: “ode to childhood memories of Halloween candy”

(You might want to enlarge the images to examine the details.)


Three comforting presents

October 21, 2020

In very difficult times — my list of physical afflictions has expanded considerably (you don’t really want to hear the details), leaving me little time in the day to write postings on my blog — friends and family have given me presents to comfort me. Three recently (with an advance notice of a fourth to come in the mail in a surprise package).


Another Shih still life

October 17, 2020

On Facebook on the 12th, another of Stephanie Shih’s still lifes:


Artichoke flowers at the top, lots of oval imagery at the bottom.



October 15, 2020

Today’s morning name, surely triggered in my mind by a line from the song “Ya Got Trouble” from the musical The Music Man (about kids in pool halls): “They’re … tryin’ out cubebs” (referring to cubeb cigarettes).

Brief background, from NOAD:

noun cubeb: [a] a tropical shrub of the pepper family, which bears pungent berries. Genus Piper, family Piperaceae: several species, including the Asian P. cubeba [b] the dried unripe berries of the cubeb, used medicinally and to flavor cigarettes. [also, not given by NOAD: [c] a cubeb cigarette] ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French cubebe, from Spanish Arabic kubēba, from Arabic kubāba.

Note: most uses of the noun cubeb are M[ass] nouns, but the use for ‘cubeb cigarette’ is C[count], and so pluralizable, as in the quote from The Music Man.


Sliced bread

September 29, 2020

Today’s Zippy is an exercise in food history:

(#1) A hymn to sliced bread — from Chilicothe

Here, Bill Griffth makes an uncharacteristic mistake. If you say “Chillicothe” to most Americans, they will probably think of Chillicothe OH, as Griffith did (or they’ll just be baffled). But in fact the famed home of sliced bread is Chillicothe MO. The Ohio town is fairly small, but it was the first capital of Ohio, and it’s twice the size of the Missouri town.



September 29, 2020

Today’s morning name. Briefly, from NOAD:

noun wazooUS informal the anus. PHRASES up (or outthe wazoo US informal very much; in great quantity; to a great degree: he’s insured out the wazoo | Jack and I have got work up the wazoo already. ORIGIN 1960s: of unknown origin.

The phrases are straightforwardly idioms — the fact that they are degree adverbials is unpredictable from the meanings of the parts — though they can be varied a bit: by extension with the modifying adjective old (up/out the old/ol’ wazoo), or the with the noun ass ‘asshole’ instead of wazoo (to have problems up/out the ass); it’s likely that wazoo in these phrases is, historically, an ornamental replacement for ass in them (see below).

But wazoo, on its own, has no parts, so it can’t literally be an idiom. However, it’s restricted in its collocations — formally non-compositional, if not semantically non-compositional.


Deconstructed hamburgers, exploding in layers

September 28, 2020

Another spinoff from my recent postings on still lifes, leading to photographs of food, in particular an earlier posting today, “Breakfast with Francesco Tonelli” (the food photographer). And that led me to a genre of food photography I hadn’t known about: the exploded view, deconstructed, flying, or food-layer hamburger. (Any sort of sandwich or layered food could be treated this way, but hamburgers tend to have more parts than most, and they’ve spread as everyday food through much of the world, so they’re especially well suited to this photographic treatment.)

An introductory example: a photo by David Fedulov (Дэвид Федулов) in Moscow:

(#1) Managing to get the dressing separated like that is the real trick here

Here I guess I should remind you that the stuff in lots of wonderful food photography isn’t food at all, but some simulacrum that will stand up under hot lights and long exposure times. Tricks of the trade. Making actual food gorgeous in still shots (as Tonelli does) is quite an accomplishment.

Five more examples, from all over the world.(We’ve already got Russia.)


Breakfast with Francesco Tonelli

September 28, 2020

Having posted recently several times on still lifes involving foodstuffs, I’ve been getting lots of suggestions from Pinterest of food photography in general (and when I post this, I’ll get even more). Striking among these suggestions: Francesco Tonelli’s album of breakfast photos (on his website, here).

These turn out to have an informal snapshot quality, as if we’re just catching these foods in the act, combined with an extraordinarily sensuous presentation. For example, breakfast PJ&B (peanut butter and jelly — or in this case, jam, which is much more intense than mere jelly):

(#1) Peanut butter and jam, aroused and about to hook up

Now, more from his breakfast album (and then the About page from his website, about who  Tonelli is and what he does).


Giovanna Garzoni

September 27, 2020

In a Facebook posting on Animals in Art through History this morning, a charming still life from about 400 years ago by Giovanna Garzoni, with food, flowers, and an insect:

(#1) Plate of Asparagus with Carnations and a Grasshopper, undated, gouache on vellum (in a private collection in Italy)

On the artist, from Wikipedia:

Giovanna Garzoni (1600–1670) was an Italian painter of the Baroque period. She began her career painting religious, mythological, and allegorical subjects but gained fame for her botanical subjects painted in tempera and watercolour. Her works were praised for their precision and balance and for the exactitude of the objects depicted.

New to me, and a delightful find. Three more examples from a large body of work: