How I Started Photographing my Food and Hated Myself for Doing So

How did this happen? I used to not do it, I just ate it all up.  Now I’ve become one of them, clicking away. Traveling to Sri Lanka, Sicily and Sardinia and finding stuff that tasted pretty damn good just drove me to photography, ultimately.

Inflight Catering

Like this for example. Singapore Airlines standard breakfast. The bread roll, meh of course. The green beans, not exactly flavorful but just right on a plane. But the dim sum (lower left) was pretty good, hard to mess up and salty and fatty enough to work at 38,000 feet.

Breakfast SFO-SIN on Singapore Air.

Of course, when you get to Changi Airport 17 hours later…Satay!! This was excellent, chewy beef with a spicy caramelized bbq’d crust dipped in peanut sauce essence and countered by raw onion/cucumber crunch (lower right). Shockingly, very few Malaysian places outside southeast Asia recreate the real peanut sauce seen here…it’s usually a creamy sweet goop that hasn’t got within 10 miles of tamarind paste, garlic, chili and freshly hammered peanuts, as happened here.

Satay, Terminal 2 Food Court, Changi Airport.

Sri Lanka

On to Sri Lanka and the basement food court of the Crescat shopping mall off Galle Road, Colombo. Curry selection, with whole chillis scattered throughout like nuclear confetti. The curry shrimp worked for me, as did the whole green chillies for a while after, in an excellent way.

Breakfast time masala dosa at the Dosai King on Galle Road in Kollupitiya. Dal refills compulsory. Eat with your hands and wash them at the taps afterwards. Sweet milky coffee not shown.

I also did not photograph the crab curry and cashew nut curry at the Riviera Resort hotel in Batticaloa, eastern Sri Lanka, and regret that. If you are vegetarian, seek out a recipe for cashew nut curry, and your life will improve. If you ever go to Batticaloa, go there for dinner. I did get a superb mango juice in World of Juice however. It was so dense it quivered when you picked the glass up.

Mango Juice, World of Juice, Batticaloa, Sri Lanka.

Halal Sri Lankan chilli chicken and veggie biryani rice at the New Ibraim Eating House in Batticaloa. Frankly the rice (with poached egg atop) was a meal in itself.

Chilli Chicken and Vegetable Biryani, Batticaloa.

Sicily and Sardinia

Moving on to Sicily, you start to get presented with lots of seafood combined with various means to stick it in your gob. Pasta of course, as in the classic pasta con le sarde, seen here. Sardines go ok with pasta, these were very fresh.

Pasta con le Sarde, Taberna Sveva, Siracusa, Sicily

Lots of raw and smoked marine life is a common starter. Lemon, bread and white wine accompany well.

Seafood Starter, Siracusa, Sicily.

Walkable lunches are available – especially arancini, which is a large riceball with a deep fried crust and filling of choice. Here meat ragu. Coke zero bottle cap for size reference, it felt heavier than it appeared.

Pork Ragu Arancina, Noto, Sicily.

Other intermediate items include the following:

Death by pastry. Although this hit the spot wondering around Cagliari having been dropped off early from the overnight Palermo ferry. There was chocolate inside, wrapped around a core of nutella.

Chocolate and Nutella Croissant, Cagliari, Sardinia.

This one may have gone first. Crisp exterior, custard interior. Again, I departed the overnight ferry at 7am so had an excuse.

Cagliari had excellent take out options and elaborate baking practices.

Just look at the crema and the balance between milk and full on espresso. I think they wanted a Euro for this, in Noto, Sicily. Tip well.

If you move inland things get meaty, and the standard appetizer plate covers various dried meats and fried doughy items.

Appetizer, Modica, Sicily.

The paninis of Ragusa are worth checking out, washed down with one of Italy’s many excellent microbrews. This is the Tari “For Sale” pale ale from nearby Modica which  had plenty of amber hoppiness going on

Ham, Cheese and Roast Potato Sandwich, Ragusa, Sicily

This was close to one of the best meals I had in Sicily. Seafood stew. Those are fried bread slices. Inside was crab, prawn and large crawfish, amongst a lot else. The house wine was good and minerally. La Buona Forchetta in Sciacca, which is a nice seaside town.

Seafood Stew, La Buona Forchetta, Sciacca, Sicily.

Sardinia has a similar dynamic of great seafood and solid inland meat stuff. This tuna carpaccio hit the spot with the fresh tomatoes and basil.

Tuna Carpaccio, Fresh Tomatoes with Basil, Cagliari, Sardinia

Another standard was the seafood spaghetti – with black spaghetti. There was a decent amount of olive oil, but this was purely a means to capture the seafood and garlic goodness.  This photo is out of focus.

Seafood Spaghetti Nero, Ristorante el Bounty, Castelsardo, Sardinia.

A Sardinian standard worth trying is Faine, a baked crepe that uses chickpea flour, similar to a farinata. This one had a bacon and onion filling  it and was just right.

Faine, Alghero.

I left Sardinia via the compact and efficient Cagliari airport. Even at 6:05am, the coffee stand was cranking it out. Italian breakfasts are usually quick and light, so the standup approach works well.

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