Tag Archives: Victoria sponge

By appointment to HM ER II…er, grazia

What would you expect to eat at an audience with Her Majesty the Queen? Dainty cucumber sandwiches sans crusts and tea sipped from bone china cups? A mini pork pie dabbed with Keen’s mustard and accompanied by a glass of sweet sherry? A full sit-down meal, each course requiring a different knife and presented under a silver cloche that’s unveiled by a suited waiter at the table? All of the above?

If so, you’d be disappointed. Apparently the Queen has moved with the times when it comes to grub. Either that or she too is feeling the pinch of the credit crunch. I say this having just read the would-be ‘society’ pages of my guilty pleasure, Grazia. The nibbles reportedly served at the palace for the British Clothing Industry Reception were, for me, just above roast Corgi on the list of Unexpected Things That The Queen Would Serve You. You won’t believe what the guests were treated to unless you secretly read Grazia too or you were at the reception yourself.

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It’s a tough job, but…

As an antidote to London Fashion Week, I thought I’d take you behind the scenes of a food photoshoot, where bellies are rubbed, not sucked in, and where mouths salivate rather than pout.

The rules

Rule one: food can be photogenic or otherwise, much like people. A ripe, rosy plum will be a natural in front of the camera, requiring only a bowl to sit in, some fellow plums for company, and favourable lighting. Life’s plainer ingredients, however, need tarting and gussying up like the mother of the bride in order to shine. The difference, of course, is that food will never writhe, smile more widely, or respond to calls of ‘lovely, that’s great, keep it going, you’re a confident, fierce bratwurst!’ It’s up to the team to sex up those pesky German sausages.

The team

The Photographer: usually a surprisingly skinny man.

How to spot him: the only one not making primitive ‘mmm’ and ‘aah’ noises – he’s not gazing longingly at the food; he’s looking at the light. Like a ripening pear whose flesh melts to mush in the time it takes for you to run to the kitchen and grab a knife, the light will tease your photographer, changing by the minute, every passing cloud or sunbeam frustrating his efforts. The only person in the room who understands the challenge he faces is…

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