Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Transitions


This is what an advertisement looks like in the London Underground between posters. In person, the mysterious patch of green captured on camera doesn't exist. I currently feel like I am in this nebulous state of transition. But while I suffer and tense through some of it, I need reminders of just how beautiful these moments are. In yoga, it is all about the transitions, not the poses themselves. These interstices are quite telling of the type of person you are. So here in this photo representing transition is something of the interstice - a texture that reminds me of an x-ray and of the beautifully re-purposed industrial textile waste of Roman designer Luisa Cervese (pictured below). What lies between. The world presents me with a reminder - not to anxiously wait for moments to come - but to dig in to the present, and swim in this textured moment.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Halfway through eating an artichoke, I took a picture


Apologies for all the food photos lately. Actually, no, I'm not sorry. There have just been such beautiful things from the market this week and they're all just begging me for photographic attention, as if I were Cecil de Mille or something. So feast your eyes on some beautiful edible imagery of the season.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Crimson & Gold


What better than blood oranges to ring in the year of the dragon?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kitchen Capers



To play off yesterday's post, taste the rainbow ;)

Beautiful candycane, yellow and white beets from Ted's Veg at Burrough Market photographed before roasting.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Be Wonderful and Wise

The subtitle of this post should be: How to be tricked into becoming a walking advertisement.

Every Saturday, Tess and I like to go to Burrough Market. And, if we're in good shape (we usually are, but some Saturdays we just need to snooze a little while longer), we get there early before the crowds (and sometimes we get there so early, we've beat out some of the vendors).

After a lovely Aussie-made cappuccino at Flat Cap, a new addition to the Market crew (and an excellent one at that), we make our way over to Ted's Veg, where we always proceed to buy out the place (okay, well not exactly, but it feels like and endless "and this... and this... and four of those...").

Today, the kind vendor said he was giving out free cloth bags. On the one hand I feel that cloth bags have become the disease of our generation. We've moved from acquiring plastic bags to seeing a multiplication of re-useable bags convinced that it's eco-friendly. Yes sure, to a point. Anyways, I digress. On the other hand, it's hard to say no. So we get these new bags. I mean c'mon, the vendor is all smiley and nice, we couldn't refuse.

The bags are beautiful, a rainbow of fruits and vegetables and food in all colours with the motto below: Be Wonderful and Wise. Healthy, inspirational, vibrant and positive. Who couldn't perk up at that? Preaching to the choir, cloth bag, we're already at the market. To be honest, it sort of looks like Tess & I's kitchen (see exhibit A below).



The thing is, there's no info. Who made it? What's it for? The vendor won't say. So we go around touting these new digs, going about our usual, etc. etc.

When we get home, we find out the truth (the bag told us to search for the motto, so we did!). Be Wonderful and Wise is, in fact, the new motto for Lurpak, a brand that is known for their butter. And this new campaign, embracing healthy food in a colourful sunshine paradigm, is meant to launch their newest low-fat spread.

The ad, below, (along with all the branding and website stuff) is done by Weiden + Kennedy aka W+K, the ad agency that brought us Nike's Just Do It and Old Spice's The Man You Could Smell Like campaigns. It's super creative and fun and foody.



But somehow I feel a little cheated. So, unknowingly, I became an advertisement? Why not just embrace butter in all its glory (a la Julie & Julia)? Or, gasp, in moderation?



Why not start touting a healthy olive oil, branch out and actually get healthy? I know, that would go against the 100+ years of history of a company that is KNOWN for butter. It is nice to know that a big corporate company is trying to operate on a human level, spread the love of food, share recipes, think seasonal and connect to the food that goes beyond just its product. Their website is fun and friendly. Explore the rainbow, see what foods are fresh this week and on and on. It taps into people's curiosity about food and connects their product with all the produce they see around them -- just like all that available at Burrough Market. But the last thing I want is to think "Oh look at those beautiful turnips! Hm, I should cook 'em in Lurpak!"

It's sort of like Lurpak has co-opted the Skittles Taste the Rainbow, to bring it stealthily and mischievously into the healthy realm of fun colourful produce (while subtly pushing its own corporate goals of sales). Thus, something just doesn't feel right... How's that for wonderful and wise?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Original McQueen?

Browsing through the oeuvre of Salvador Dali, I came across a few images of figures with heads of flowers. And I couldn't help think of Alexander McQueen. Perhaps the Spaniard's late 1930s flight of fancy re-ignited the late British fashion designer.





Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pure Delight


With their densely packed swirls of cinnamony sweetness between dough that is buttery but not too rich, the cinnamon buns at Violet Cakes are pure delight. While I do work there and am by no means impartial, the rapidity with which these spirals of deliciouness sell out is testament to their popularity -- all the more given that these baked creations have only just been introduced earlier this week.

*image courtesy of the Violet newsletter, subscribe here

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Kitchen Capers

The spirals of brussel sprouts, the systematic reuse of yoghurt jars - all part of the inspiration of Saturday marketing and general kitchen capers. I still marvel at being able to buy a whole stem of brussel sprouts for £1.50.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Daily Om

No matter when I check The Daily Om, it inevitably echoes - either in its inspiration of the day or its daily horoscope - my inner sentiments. So, instead of composing my thoughts, I thought I'd share an echoing parallel of my state of mind.

January 11, 2012
The Ultimate Authority
Using Our Own Minds

To a certain degree, we rely on other people’s accounts of reality to inform us of the nature of the universe. For example, we can’t all be molecular physicists, but we can benefit from taking their findings to heart. In the same way, we often look to teachers, various leaders, and gurus to tell us about the path to enlightenment and the nature of the realm of spirit. While this input from experts is undeniably valuable, our own sense of the truth is ultimately the most important piece in processing the information we take in from external sources. In the end, we are the authorities in our own lives, and we have the final say on whether something generally held as true is true for us.

We need only take a brief look at history to remember that the religious, scientific, and political establishments that ruled the day were all wrong about something at some point in time. This is the beauty of learning, experiencing, and evolving. While we sometimes wish we could just let someone else decide for us what is real and true, this is clearly not a viable option. The good news in all this is that we can confidently devote ourselves to making up our own minds about reality, taking everything that is handed to us as truth with a grain of salt.

This does not mean that we discount the information we receive from outside sources. It simply means that we are vigilant enough to question it before we decide whether or not we agree with it. All the information we receive is useful in the process of helping us make up our own minds. As we allow ourselves to sit with the things we learn, measuring them alongside our own inner sense of the truth and our own experiences, we find that making up our minds is a joyful process of integration that grows us into stronger, smarter, more engaged human beings.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Oh Yes!


This license plate echoes just what I am thinking when I see these cute little vintage cars. They seem to dot my neighbourhood at every corner, or perhaps I notice them everywhere I go. Looking closely I discovered that the car is a Nissan Figaro. Apparently it was originally produced - circa 1991 - only for the Japanese market but became popular in the UK and Ireland. The original Japanese production was only 8,000 and avid car-owners had to enter a lottery to even own one. Such was demand that they increased the production by 12,000. I wonder where all the Brits find their current models, and why they have such a following here in Clapham...

Sunday, January 08, 2012

My Own Personal Orbit

Today, I wrap myself in my own cocoon,
traveling my own path of ideas and tasks,
mundane and grand, flitting from one
to the next, letting the whole
system spin, like the cultivation
of a pearl, or the poaching of an egg, swirling
around a nucleus, long strands wrapping
to form a whole.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Beatrice




Let them come. I've had
my vengeance. And you?
What will you have of me?

You cannot rob me of my life, my innocence. That
has already been stolen from me. Look closer.

A fire still burns, inextinguishable.
I speak to you from a molten calm.



Julia Margaret Cameron, Beatrice, 1866, Albumen print.
For Cameron's contemporaries, the simple title of this life-size close-up head would have suggested Percy Pysshe Shelley's poetic drama The Cenci (1819). The play was based on the true story of Beatrice Cenci, who had her abusive father murdered in 16th-century Italy and was then executed along with her conspirators.

*print and text featured in new permanent Photograph Gallery at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Paradoxymoron

video

A little optical trip - a 1996 artwork by Patrick Hughes - that never fails to bowl me over at The British Library.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Is it all the same?

I just finished reading Jeffrey Eugenides's latest novel The Marriage Plot. It was a well-written, can't-put-it-down, I'm-going-to-read-this-in-the-bathtub sort of book - the type of book that makes you obsessive about finding out what happens next. And some would say that is the mark of a good book. After reading his previous book, Middlesex, I was curious to see what new tale Eugenides would spin out. Structurally based on the Victorian novel surrounding, you guessed it, the marriage plot, the story, set in the 80s, spins out as a web of relationships and an exploration of mental illness in one of the characters. Compelling. Complex.

But comparing the book with the book I read before (Abraham Verghese's Cutting For Stone) and the book I read before that (Madeline Miller's The Song of Achilles), I wondered if the general formula for fiction was the same. Along the arc of each of the stories, there were moments of learning, love, sexual awakening. Sure the stories were different but, it seems to me that the basic ingredients are all the same. Getting to certain moments in a fictive narrative, part of me rolls my eyes in familiar acknowledgement while another part of me just devours it. Somehow, perhaps, it isn't hackneyed. Maybe these are the moments to which we can all relate.