Recently I heard some food experts on a panel discussing what exactly is American food — how do you define it? The question makes for an enjoyable debate, but for me the answer is simple. Southern food is American food, and even though I didn’t grow up eating this way, I do a lot of Southern cooking at home these days. Fortunately I have a steady supply of recipes from books I edit, this one included. From a Southern Oven by Jean Anderson was just published, and I can’t resist giving you a little tour behind the scenes at the photoshoot. As usual, these shots are all mine, but the photos in the book by Jason Wyche are gorgeous, and I urge you to check them out for yourself.
Prop stylists always amaze me. The props were so varied, and yet they seemed to fit together wonderfully as we progressed from shot to shot. All the credit goes to Martha Bernabe, who I love working with. The thing is, Martha usually steps aside when she sees me holding my camera.
Well, I finally caught her in action. That’s Martha putting together a set, with Jason standing by. They make a great team.
Speaking of great teams, I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy working with food stylist Mariana Velasquez. She brings an artful touch to everything she does, even when the food itself may not be all that naturally pretty.
Here she is spreading a little butter on the cornbread oh so perfectly. I don’t think Mariana likes it too much when I take photos of her working, but maybe she won’t mind this time.
About the book, it’s a collection of baked Southern recipes. For many people, when you say “baked,” they think of desserts, but this book is split between sweet and savory recipes. In fact the savory recipes probably won out as my favorites during the shoot. I’ve got a serious sweet tooth, but Southerners have such a gift for seafood and pork recipes in particular. And let me say once again how amazing the props and food look, thanks to Martha and Mariana. Remember, these are just snapshots I took — if you think these look good, then you really have to see Jason Wyche’s photos in the book itself.
Yes, there are plenty of desserts too. Back when we shot this, I was still eating gluten. I can tell you the cakes, pies, puddings, and more in this book are pretty amazing. Sure, I’ve got a serious sweet tooth and a particular fondness for Southern desserts, but I don’t think this book is going to disappoint. In fact, I think it could turn just about anyone into a Southern food fan like me after trying a few of the recipes.