Thursday, June 24, 2010

Say Sugar!

(Tina arranging malt candy skulls "just so" for their closeup)

Tina, Deborah, Elizabeth and Yvonne. Four lovely people who slogged all the way to Vermont from New York to take pictures of sweets. They schlepped loads of camera equipment and props across state lines, jerryrigged a professional studio in the living room and organized an extensive prop station in the dining room.

(skull #2 needs a touch up. Shiny forhead.)

I will be the first to tell you that I don't know how these things are supposed to be done; Sugar Baby's my first cookbook. Narrative stuff, I can do. I write a book, edit and write some more. Easy peasy, fresh and squeezy. A cookbook is another animal. I'm writing bits of narrative, stories to accompany a journey through the stages of sugar. And I'm writing recipes, developing new fangled sweets and pastries based on the specific temperature of sugar. Hard ball! Soft Crack! Thread! So many options bloom from a single crystal agitated by some fire! I live for this kind of work. If I didn't do this for a living, I'd daydream about doing it. As a matter of fact, I used to day dream about it. This is one of the rare times when "Be careful what you wish for" gets a big kick in the pants. I wished, I got and it is good.

But it's the other stuff, like taking pictures of the treats before the book is done. Making almost all the treats, over 100, in under a week and getting them ready for their close-up. I work alone. I prefer it that way. But an assistant would have been nice. Although Ray did do all the dishes and when the dishes consist almost entirely of stainless steel saucepans layered with hardened caramelized sugar, you know you've scored in the life partner department when they all get done. He also kept us caffeinated by way of his mad skills on the espresso machine. Yet more evidence of good husband material.

Bless Tina (Rupp, photographer) and Deborah (Williams, prop stylist), for their unbelievable patience and the unflagging work ethic of their respective assistants, Elizabeth and Yvonne. They kept calm, carried on and made my first journey into the art of taking beautiful pictures of food for printed posterity a joy.

So next time you're leafing through your favorite cookbook, take a look at the other credits beside the cookbook author. You'll realize that there are supremely talented people who are crucial in putting that book in your hands. They created those tantalizing images that lured you to pick up that one tome among hundreds and helped set you on the path of your favorite culinary journeys.

("Paging Mr. Herman." Pulling taffy and trying to ignore the camera.)

(If you watch it boil, it'll never come to temperature. And psst, my bra strap is showing.)

(HRH Dowager Queen Pandora finally gets her close-up after a long week of sweets, sweets, sweets.)