My apologies, dear readers, for being out of touch for the last few weeks. I’ve been cooking Christmas dinner.
As you may or may not know, in magazine world we are several months ahead, which means that while the rest of you are sunning yourselves on beaches and knocking back sangria, I’m in a kitchen somewhere in West London, vitamin D deficient, tired and cranky, desperately hoping that the turkey doesn’t wrinkle before we get the picture done. Somewhat unfair, but that’s life.
Since food is for many people the most important part of Christmas, this time of year is something of a challenge. Just three of us have to create over 50 recipes, all of which are tested then cooked for photography, not to mention the endless rounds of smoked salmon, Christmas cake, pie, pud and party food tasting. Have you ever had a food hangover? Come to our office early September and you might just get one.
Apart from the incredibly tight schedules, there are certain logistical issues to be got over when photographing Christmas food in the middle of summer. First, and foremost, there’s the dreaded turkey. Collectively, we had 32kg of turkey in our freezer by the time we found the perfect specimen, so thank you very much to Copas for providing it. All three of us had sleepless nights about this poor bird – would it fit in the oven? Would it brown up enough on top? Not being fans of the Marmite-and-fairy-liquid fake glaze – an old (and dreadful if you ask me) food styling trick to make roast chicken look cooked, we have to rely on skill to make the turkey look appetising.
It’s a surreal experience stuffing a Christmas fowl at 7.30 on a beautiful September morning, to say nothing of the feeling you get when the smell starts to emanate. I swear, I did feel Christmassy. And it was catching. Our photographer could be heard whistling Let it Snow for the majority of the morning.
So when you start buying your Christmas magazines (hopefully w&h, but I’m not going to force you), please spare a thought for us poor food stylists, running round Waitrose ten minutes before closing on a Friday night in August, desperately searching for Brussels sprouts. And in case you’re wondering, yes, our turkey turned out beautifully. But you’ll have to wait til November to see it!