Patio - Exotic Mexican Food!

Bone marrow and femur segments, Mom... and don't spare the ick! I think one of the things that makes mid-century America work so well for me is the degree of naivete' combined with arrogance and a little willful blindness thrown in. In 1962, Mexican food could still be described as "exotic". For those without a globe on their desks, Mexico is right across the U.S./ Mexican border.

Remember on The Flintstones, Wilma used to make Fred a "pizza pie". Why the "pie"? Probably because pizza was a new discovery for middle America, despite it being basically an American invention (duh). I think of "pie-ifying" the word "pizza" kind of like the way they used to hyphenate words that were new and strange in the 1900's. "Air-ship", "motor-car", "hand-soap", "un-wed mother". Hyphens and over description are giveaways that the speaker is still grappling with something weird and new.

So, yeah, Patio frozen enchilada dinner. Mmm-mmm-bleah. That's a lotta earth tones. Photographing food is not easy. In fact, there are companies that do nothing but photograph food in a pleasing way. Getting food to let itself be phtographed looking like something other than a plate of sick is really really hard. Milk comes out blue and watery in pictures, for example. Any glamor shot of cereal you may see was probably photographed with glue in place of real milk. There are a whole bunch of secrets like this that food-tographers used to get a decent picture of meat loaf that doesn't look like a belly wound. A lot of the tricks were just trying to find something that looks like food without decomposing under studio lights. When you looked at a package of ice cream, the stuff in the bowl on the box wasn't ice cream. Of course, much of this is probably done with Photoshop now. Pity. Pouring glue over cereal sounds a lot more fun than just using the "levels" tool.

None of these techniquies were used in this photo. Color balance in food photography is crucial, and this is made hideously clear by Patio's ad. The beans kind of look like "practice brains" for young zombies learning how to hunt for themselves. Photographic technique aside, there were some poor choices made. Too much brown, first and foremost. Maybe the idea was to match the generally fecal pallette of the dinner, but I think they would have been better served by using a non-brown color for the edge of the plate. Blue, maybe? How bout red? The lone island of color in this sea of yuck is the lettuce and pepper, but stalwart companions though they are, two little garnishes are not mighty enough to hold back the flood of beige ichor that threatens to engulf the table. Patio Frozen Dinners - Try one today, and again in a few hours!


mandy said...

When I was in Las Vegas an couple of years ago for a photoshop conference, the only interesting workshop I attended was about photographing food. They had some industry professionals from Kraft foods talk about their techniques and how things haven't changed much since the arrival of digital editing software. Basically, whatever they are trying to sell, say ice cream, has to be 100% that specific product photographed. Everything else in the picture that makes the ice cream pretty, fruits, oreos, dollups of whip cream, can be fake. I got to see them make a tray of about 10 little glue and resin Cool Whip dollups and they pick the most perfect one to accent whatever real pie they are photographing. By law they have to represent the actual product, but anything goes for the rest of the stuff. The only photoshopping they do afterwards is saturation levels, and things like that.

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