December 11, 2007

One week.

If you haven't already seen the One Week's Worth Of Food photoessay, I highly recommend it. Highly. I keep looking at it again and noticing more things: the huge variety of family sizes, the people's expressions, the really awesome hats on the Ecuadorean family. The Bhutanese kid with his fingers in the rice. The fabulous city names, like Cllingbourne Ducis. Go click.

If you have already seen the photoessay, allow me to show you my own humble effort. This is the Woolsey family of Portland, with a one-week food expenditure of I recycled my grocery receipt but I think about $40.00. Favorite food: still, as always, chocolate-chip cookies.

Click to enlarge if desired.

It's damned difficult, I've discovered, to take the kind of top-down picture that shows foodstuffs so nicely in all of those other photographs. It's especially difficult if your roommate is locked in her room with her lady friend and cannot be recruited to take the picture for you, because cameras on auto-timer really want to be on level surfaces (or they really want to fall on the floor). There are also a lot of problems with my spread here -- some things are missing, like soymilk which I just plain forgot about. Some things were already in the process of being made into dinner when I thought to do this, which is why you can vaguely see a pan of tasty vegetable korma at the back of the layout. And some things, like my enigmatic oatmeal canister and my various alchemical-looking jars of rice and sugar, are just totally unidentifiable.

Still, I think it actually gives a fairly accurate picture of where I fit into the world in terms of buying power, available options, ideas about nutrition, and my unique blend of good intentions and limited cooking energy. I say to you: here is my food life laid bare. Now you go.

Posted by dianna at December 11, 2007 11:22 PM

I'll file this under Things To Do When I Get a Job And My Own Place.

Posted by: Chris at December 12, 2007 12:09 AM

This is an excellent idea that I really want to participate in, but absolutely can not for at least a month. For starters, I leave town in less than a week, at which point I'll be at my parents's place for about a month. Second, I'm in finals at the moment, so most of my food expenditures will be on studying-related snacks (Study-Os, for the studious snacker!) and cheap take-out. Thus, this week's food purchases are not representative. Still, when I return next month to a fridge full of the rotting food I failed to finish before I leave this week, I'll be ready to make a large grocery purchase, at which point I'll happily participate.

I remember looking at that photoessay a little while back and being struck by how much I really wanted to live in Sicily. All those fruits and vegetables and fresh-baked bread at reasonable prices!

Posted by: Zach S. at December 12, 2007 07:36 AM

Yeah, the Italian family's haul is pretty appealing. But I suspect it really only works if you either have a housespouse to spend dozens of hours a week cooking all that fresh produce for you, or have time in your own week to spend dozens of hours cooking. Or you're REALLY dedicated to a raw food diet. Me, I will take a certain proportion of unfresh and unsexy packaged food in exchange for more time for other things.

It occurs to me that these pictures must have been planned to represent the whole week instead of simply being taken post-shopping -- for instance, the first American family would probably not have the two pizzas plus the Burger King stuff plus I think I see tacos all at the same time right after going grocery shopping. The Italian family wouldn't buy all that fresh bread and keep it all week while it went stale. So after my holiday travel is done interrupting my normal food habits, I think I'm going to spend a week adding up my actual purchases and then try to show them more accurately. And include Peanut this time!

Chris: get a job and your own place.

Posted by: Dianna at December 12, 2007 09:27 AM

That makes sense. It'll be interesting to think about it and do a catalog of what I actually eat in a week. I tend to get a bit over-ambitious in my vegetable purchasing and wind up throwing out 1/4 to 1/3 of what I buy as it becomes rotten before I get around to cooking it. I'm particularly bad with eggplant and fresh dill in this regard. I wonder if our photo should include the food we buy and mean to eat, but then wind up saying "fuck it, I'm too tired" and ordering in Ethiopian?

Posted by: Zach S. at December 12, 2007 10:11 AM

I'm intrigued by the almost complete absence of bread products in your photo. The pleased grin makes up for everything, though.

Posted by: Ping at December 12, 2007 02:20 PM

I do look pretty pleased, don't I? It's a natural side effect of getting to play with a large quantity of food. The longer I spent rearranging and retaking the picture, the more fun it was.

I haven't been eating bread that regularly recently, and after a couple of loaves went moldy on me I disallowed myself from buying more than I felt confident of eating. Excess bread is hard to dispose of in my house, since one of my roommates is a gluten noneater. But now I'm finding I have a whole lot of Earth Balance and nothing on which to spread it: unacceptable.

Posted by: Dianna at December 12, 2007 04:11 PM

I was thinking the same thing in re the Earth Balance.

One thought: If you're thinking of buying sliced sandwich bread, those loaves can be frozen to prevent their going moldy, and they defrost to a state pretty much equivalent to their original non-frozen state (provided you set the loaf out the night before and allow it to defrost naturally, rather than trying to rush things in a microwave). I tend to buy two loaves at a time, leaving one out and putting the other in the freezer, and I find that the second loaf keeps for weeks that way with no significant deterioration in quality.

I don't think this would work as well with nice bread, though.

Also: What kind of leafy greens are those? What do you do with them? I'm not a huge salad fan, so I tend to buy leafy greens out of a vague sense of obligation. I then allow them to turn into dry, yellow leaf crackers in my refrigerator before I throw them out. The one exception is spinach, which I generally purchase when I need it for some specific recipe. That recipe inevitably turns out poorly because I always forget how damned sandy fresh spinach is and don't wash it sufficiently. This gives whatever I'm cooking a disgusting gritty texture. Though it probably adds a lot of fiber and minerals to the dish.

Posted by: Zach S. at December 12, 2007 05:32 PM

Chard! That is green chard, which is in season and cheap and delicious and versatile and I put it in absolutely fucking everything. Stir fry? Chard! Sandwich? Chard! Veggie korma? Chard! Pasta with pesto? Chard! Rice and beans? I think you mean rice and beans and chard. It's my current dietary obsession -- you can eat it raw (crispy, slightly spicy), just wilt it a bit (pliable with a tiny bit of bitterness), or fully cook it (maintains structural integrity but suddenly goes well with sweet sauces and salsas). Chard and I are going to run away together; certainly I am not going anywhere without it.

Skipped over earlier: the reason you throw away eggplants and fresh dill is that you are a man of good sense and impeccable taste. I once voted for formal measures to ban eggplant from my house, and should the occasion arise again I will vote thus again. I fail to see that you're missing much by pitching it.

Posted by: Dianna at December 12, 2007 08:07 PM

Sorry for lurking so long-- but I had to post about this. So interesting to see all those photos.

I wish I bought as much beer as the Germans. Ok, not really.

I agree with you on the kale: delicious.

Posted by: Kim at December 12, 2007 08:33 PM

If early Nintendo games are to be believed (and I have yet to see any reputable evidence that they should not be) your distaste for eggplant indicates that you are not an eskimo, but that you may be a minor ancient Greek hero.

Posted by: Zach S. at December 12, 2007 08:52 PM

All this food talk makes me want to eat with you.

Posted by: Ping at December 12, 2007 11:29 PM

In slightly more than 36 hours you will be able to do precisely that!

Hey, speaking of which, I am getting to Oakland at 10pm. Will you/Lisa/someone come pick me up, or should I take BART and sneer at its inefficiency relative to the TriMet system? I can do either. I have the technology.

Posted by: Dianna at December 13, 2007 09:49 AM

I finally got everything together to do this, arranged my photo, and then my camera broke. Here's what I came up with, though.

Posted by: MoltenBoron at February 18, 2008 04:56 PM