I’m a big fan of Jennifer McLagan, the Toronto-based chef, food stylist, and cookbook
author. It helps that we’re currently testing her recipes for an upcoming story (keep an eye out for it in the April 2010 issue), which means I’ve been eating a lot of her eye-openingly delicious food lately. But I also have her to thank for a new perspective on raw food, not the movement (definitely not for me!), but the ingredients. Her book Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes, which won the Best Single Subject Cookbook award, as well as Cookbook of the Year, at the 2009 James Beard Awards, pretty much changed the way I look at raw meat: Who knew it could be so beautiful? (See Christopher Hirsheimer’s ode to a raw rib-eye in our December/January issue, page 3.)
Which might explain why I was drawn to Pinar Yolacan’s photographs in New York’s International Center of Photography’s current exhibition, Dress Codes. The show features four of her stunning, life-size photographs of Afro-Brazilian woman dressed in elaborate hand-sewn costumes that mix velvet and satin with raw ingredients, among them tripe and kidneys. The photographs are startling, even shocking (this link should probably have a parental guidance code), but at the same time hypnotically beautiful. They are as much about portraiture and painting, as they are about photography. And like Jennifer’s book, they rethink the beauty inherent in the raw.