Archive for April, 2007

Supermarket Bowling

If there’s one thing that food stylists excel at, it’s supermarket bowling. That is to say being able to fight through (and survive) the jammed-to-the hilt, not-fit-for-a-sardine-in-a-tin conditions that one is subjected to when food shopping. Next to the importance of seeking out the most beautifully wonderfully gorgeously perfect bunch of basil- it’s an essential skill of the trade. Without this skill- I would not discount the possibility that one day you should find yourself sat in a circle on a plastic chair stating your name and why you require anger management. Regardless of whether or not your dream vocation is to be able to spot herbal perfection- you may still find some use from this lesson. If, however, you’ve spent time in New York city- food stylist, restranteur, microwave dinner enthusiast or otherwise, I’m sure that you can mutually commiserate with me on the frustrations of overpopulated supermarkets.

I broach the subject of supermarket bowling with an air of caution. This is not for the faint hearted- more hard-hearted, if you will. I do not classify myself as a nasty person- I’m an efficient person and when the supermarket entrance is barred by the sweet little old lady who has paused inconsequentially to remove her woolly hat and gloves – my efficiency levels drop. I dream of Supermarket Sweep- sparkling clean obstruction-free aisles that one can rush freely down tossing the necessary dinner components into a trolley in seconds. I spent my last blog bemoaning the fact that obviously nobody in New York cooks based on the size of their kitchens. But according to the number of people loitering in the supermarket aisles- they all cook. And I wish they bloody didn’t.

An undoctored picture of my local supermarket is enough to lead any normal person to the gates of insanity. There is consistently an unhealthy array of wailing toddlers challenging the nerves of their frantic mothers (and everybody else’s). Dumpy menopausal women crowd the fridges as they optimistically compare the calorie contents on the backs of each and every low fat yoghurt. A clean up team rushes to mop up a spillage (usually something sticky) and two shoppers try to disentangle their trolleys after attempting to pass side by side down one of the narrow aisles. Meanwhile, at the fish counter two men will heatedly debate who had been waiting longer as two young kids playing tag, rush past screaming bloody murder. Combine this scenario with the sweet little old lady who has now stopped dead (no pun intended)- overwhelmed by the choices of olive oil and you have more chaos brewing in this small upper west side supermarket than at Marilyn Manson concert. A situation that can only be resolved by bakram yoga- or supermarket bowling.

Supermarket bowling is a head-down, don’t look back, every-man-for-himself, survival of the fittest approach to getting through crowds; quickly. Imagine it as a game of chicken. Your trolley is your 1959 Mustang, you’re Danny Zuko and you’re not turning off the road for nobody. Stare through the competition – this is your Zen, adopt a look of dangerous instability, shop in pairs, one stands with the trolley as the other ducks and dives through the crowds. In extreme circumstances, consider more aggressive actions. For instance the trolley-to-ankle strike or the release of unfriendly wind- but remember to avoid arguments with other competitors as this will only serve as a time waster and the key here is to getting in and out quickly. As with all things- practice makes perfect. With that in mind- I’m off to find dinner. May the best man win.

Continue reading ‘Supermarket Bowling’

Welly Boots and Chocolate Flapjacks


I wasn’t planning a trip back to the UK quite so soon, but as always something came up that forced me to make an entry to my carbon trail log. I flew into Heathrow at 6:30 am, and breathed a sigh of relief. I was home. This was followed by a wait of 30 minutes to disembark the plane, a sardine-tin ride by bus to the terminal, a 30 minute scrum to get through immigration, an hours wait for bags because the baggage trolley had to cross an active runway and was finished off by an extortionate fair on the Heathrow express and a sweaty ride on the Bakerloo line with the mornings commuters. Yes, I was most definitely home; sweet home.

I was going to spend the rest of the week in the countryside and I was delighted by the thought of hoiking on my welly boots and being covered in dog hair and barnyard smells again. Since being in New York, I’ve missed my little country retreat and it was lovely to gulp in the fresh air and be able to see all around instead of just straight ahead or straight up. My aunt has my dream kitchen, stone-tiled floors, an Aga, a large wooden table to eat around and washing-up sink looking out over the fields and Levington marina. Bliss. My ‘kitchen’ in New York is the length of an outstretched arm- not both arms, one. I stare into a cupboard when I wash up in New York and there isn’t space for my 6ft tall boyfriend let alone for an aga or a communal table. I worked on a job last week and the publicist commented on how few props I appeared to have at home- ‘well, my kitchen is the size of my one out-stretched arm’ I replied. ‘Up.” She said. ‘In New York you have to build up’. Ah yes, that famous New York real estate dilemma- must build up not out.

Based on the size of my quasi-kitchen it makes me wonder how many people in New York actually cook- everyone delivers (even up to your six-floor walk-up apartment), eating out is cheap and a kitchen isn’t really a kitchen because most places don’t even give you a place to chop an onion! When I viewed the apartment I now live in one of the landlords biggest selling points was that every restaurant delivers here. There’s no washing machine or dishwasher and the apartment is only 6×6 (feet that is, not meters) but that didn’t matter because ‘everyone delivers’. My strives towards being Martha Stewart-esque were thwarted right in their tracks. I read somewhere recently that 90% of Americans don’t own a set of scales- which I now know that in New York is because if you own a set of scales then you don’t have room in your solitary kitchen cupboard for tin of beans! My kitchen consists of an oven, a sink and a fridge-freezer. There’s no surface to chop anything you might cook and no place to dry up the dishes you might want to wash-up after eating. The lack of space causes no lack of stress and arguments with my boyfriend as we try to navigate around one another without breaking yet another plate. So, I’m feeling a tad-bit homesick for space after a week of cooking heaven- friends and family go without saying but mostly I just miss my old kitchen. Too be able to spread out my ingredients and not have to take each out one at a time because if you have a bag of flour on the table at the same time as a bag of sugar then there’s no room for your mixing bowl! Oh, and there’s even room for a set of scales. What a novel idea. Continue reading ‘Welly Boots and Chocolate Flapjacks’

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