At last Dinah Fried and the Snowdrops’ Garden editor have managed to have a wonderful interview. Enjoy it!
O.M. As a designer and Art Director, what kind of visual storytelling attracts you?
D.F. I’m interested in a all sorts of visual storytelling. I like using all sorts of media and tools including photography, film, typography, color, sound and applying methods such as abstraction, reduction, and interpretation. But what’s most exciting to me about visual narrative is finding unexpected and engaging access points into a subject matter, and in turn, allowing others (and myself) to see something familiar in new ways.
O.M. Food has always been a fascinating medium to approach different Cultures.
What makes you decide a particular food and book will turn into a new Fictitious Dish?
D.F. I consider several things when choosing a literary meal for Fictitious Dishes. I ask myself: Can I see this meal in my mind’s eye as I read about it? Does it sound particularly delicious or extraordinarily disgusting? Is the description beautifully written? Will this photograph help convey the mise-en-scène of book? Does the meal come at an important juncture in the story, or carry significant symbolism? Is there potential to use a cool/unusual surface or props? Is it something that I’ve never photographed before? Will it be a challenge to set up? Will the book/meal resonate with other readers? And of course, can I feasibly procure the ingredients and prepare the food? If the answer to at least two of these questions is “yes,” I go for it!
O.M. In Italy an American writer, Jhumpa Lahiri, fell in love with our mothertongue and decided to start writing in Italian. Do you a have an Italian contemporary classic that could turn into one of your fictitious dishes?
D.F. I only took one semester of Italian in college, so unfortunately have to read Italian novels in translation. Alas.
Umberto Eco’s wonderful novel The Name of the Rose has many great passages about food, and I’d love to prepare and photograph one of them. He describes “wine, cheese, olives, bread, and excellent raisins” and “sage, parsley, thyme, garlic, pepper and salt” and many loaves of freshly baked bread. But I think I’d probably pick a scene from the “Vespers” chapter, “In which the abbot speaks again with the visitors and William has some astounding ideas for deciphering the riddle of the labyrinth and succeeds in the most rational way. Then William and Adso eat cheese in batter.” This cheese and batter has always sounded incredibly delicious to me and I think it could make a nice photograph. Now I wish I’d included this in the book!
The following passage it’s on p. 236 in Dinah’s edition
“I will do,” he said, “I will do cheese in batter.”
“How is that made?”
“Facilis. You take the cheese before it is too antiquum, without too much salis, and cut in cubes or sicut you like. And postea you put a bit of butierro or lardo to rechauffer over the embers. And in it you put two pieces of cheese, and when it becomes tenero, zucharum et cinnamon supra positurum du bis. And immediately take to table, because it must be ate caldo caldo.”
“Cheese in batter it is, then,” I said to him. And he vanished toward the kitchen, telling me to wait for him. He arrived half an hour later with a dish covered by a cloth. The aroma was good.
O.M. Visual Design in Italy and Europe is becoming more and more important when it comes to Creative Economy. Do you have any tips for young people starting their career in this field?
D.F. Do work you love to do. Collaborate with people you admire. Allow your point-of-view to come through in your work. Be serious about what you do, but don’t take yourself too seriously.
To find out more about Dinah’s Fictitious Dishes and carrer clik here.