Cook, Shoot, and Eat

I’ve been following Karen’s blog: Back Road Journal for some time now and what a world traveling blog it is. She has taken me on some amazing European trips, entertained me with her wonderful photos, stories and sense of humor; she also introduced me to many cuisines from around the world. Not only does Karen have a great passion for food, she is also a wonderful cook. I always look forward to see what recipes she would come up with. A few days ago, Karen posted a delicious looking recipe of Spaghetti alle Vongole; meaning in Italian, Spaghetti with Clams. I love how it sounds so exotic in Italian. Even though Karen had posted many yummy looking recipes before, for some reason this particular recipe stuck in my mind. While I was at the grocery store yesterday and saw a tank full of fresh manila clams — the idea for my 250th post came to mind. I decided to recreate Karen’s recipe and do a photo shoot to tell the story of making her dish.

The recipe is very easy. It would take less than 20 minutes to make the dish. However, it took me over two hours to make and shoot it. I had to stop and style each shot just right before shooting. Good thing my subjects were very compliant. Oftentimes in food photography, the dish becomes inedible by the time the shoot is over; but in this case, I was able to eat it. I had time it so that I knew when I was done shooting, the dish would make a great lunch. And it tasted absolutely delightful.

I love manila clams. Not only are they tasty, they provided me with wonderful memories of my children. When my boys were young, we used to dig for the clams at the local beaches. Oh… the joyful smiles and squeals of my children’s happiness were priceless.

One thing I discovered while cooking the clams — the sauce is actually really good as it is. The clams were really tasty coated with it —Β  much better than typical restaurants — of serving it plain with a side dish of melted butter to dip in. Boring… So… if you are looking for a new and flavorful way to eat clams, cook it with the sauce and just skip the pasta.

When buying wine for cooking, don’t just buy the cheapest. Buy the wine you would want to drink and that way you can have it with your meal. But since I don’t drink wine and mainly just using it for cooking and props, I do buy the cheapest.

The dish was a success!Β  And of course, it passed the stringent inspection of my personal foodie consultant.

Click here for the recipe: Spaghetti alle Vongole

Thanks Karen for the recipe. And no, I didn’t use cheese. πŸ˜‰

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35 Comments on “Cook, Shoot, and Eat

  1. The steam coming out from the spaghetti made my mouth water. I haven’t ever been able to photograph steam so beautifully.* And the food consultant is an absolute delight. Does she ever say no any dish?

    *After a second look, is it the steam or just a delicious illusion of it? Whatever it is, I am a fan.

    • Thanks Priya for the wonderful compliment. Photographing steam is definitely tricky. Having proper lighting helps a lot in getting a clear shot of it. However, the steam you see in the spaghetti is just an illusion from the exposure I used to create movement. My foodie consultant loves food of all kind and usually will try everything at least once or twice. She’s not a picky eater however, there are a few fruits and vegetables that she will not eat. πŸ™‚

  2. Beautiful photos. You did make me laugh when you mentioned how long it takes to make a dish when you are capturing the process with photography. Jack and I were just talking about how our photos come out better when we are not in such a hurry to eat because we are starving!

    • Thank you Barbra for stopping by and leaving your nice compliment. Yes, it’s always better to take food photos when you are not starving. It’s like never to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach kind of thing… πŸ˜‰

  3. Boy, do I envy your skill with a camera. My food photography needs a lot of work. I love this dish, but I have to confess that I put cheese on everything/anything pasta. It’s one of my things!

    • Thanks so much for the compliment Lulu. Like everything else, skills come with lots of practice and trial and error. I love cheese on most of my pasta dishes too even on the ones with seafood. However, from the sound of Karen’s advice — just don’t ask for it in Italy because hey don’t have any qualms about kicking people out of restaurants for asking.

  4. The photos are well worth the time they tookThe time you took with the photos was well worth the effort. You and Karen have prepared one of my favorite dishes, but I have to confess I use cheese on anything Italian. I can’t help it!

    • Like you, I like cheese on most Italian dishes. Maybe when you make this dish, you can try it without cheese. I was happy to discovered that the clams actually tasted much better without the cheese.

  5. Wonderful series of images Emily. These photos entice the viewer to want to eat some of this delicious pasta with clams!

    • Actually, she wasn’t sure what to make of the dish. And looked rather upset. So I had to rub a little of the sauce on her nose to get her to look like she is enjoying it. The little tricks in food photography. πŸ˜‰

    • I know… isn’t she just the cutest little assistant and she loves food. However, in this shot; I only used her as a prop. There were garlic and onions in the dish. And I read these ingredients are not good for dogs.

  6. Emily! I have not been really impressed with any food photography that I can remember–until now–what a scrumptiously beautiful job! Spaghetti with red clam sauce has long been a favorite when I try out a new Italian restaurant, but this takes it to a whole new level. If I can find the clams, this is something I’d really like to try. Don’t know if I could forego the cheese, though…

    • Thank you so much for your great compliment. I do enjoy shooting food and actually is trying to launch myself as a food photographer. I love clams and fortunately, I live in an area where they are abundant — both in the store and out in nature. LOL… as for the cheese, if you must… go ahead. Just make sure to never ask for it, if you are ever in Italy. πŸ™‚

    • You are welcome, Martina. It was fun to have Evie as part of the story. She had this bewilder look on her face when I put her in front of the plate of food. I thought for sure she would charge after it and was ready to stop her. I didn’t really want her to eat it. But I guess the idea of being allow to sit at the table just really surprised her. I did tell her not to get used to it. πŸ˜‰

  7. Emily…thank you so much for your very kind words. I couldn’t be happier that you made the recipe and decided not only say that you enjoyed it but to feature it on your blog. The photos are wonderful, of course. The pasta dropping into the pot…great. Yea…to no cheese, the true Italian way of eating the dish.

    • You are very welcome, Karen. It has been a pleasure getting to know you through your blog. Thank you for sharing your interesting life and taking me on trips. I love the pasta dish and end up having it for both lunch and dinner. πŸ™‚

      Speaking of Italian way… I remember when my dad refused to serve bread and butter at his newly acquired Chinese restaurant — which was located in a high Italian population area; many of the customers got really upset and walked out. My dad stuck to his principles but after losing more than half the customers. He finally relented and brought back the bread and butter. Unfortunately, it was too late. He had to close the restaurant, even though his food was excellent. I guess the moral of the story is… never take away bread and butter from the Italians. πŸ™‚

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