Too Large to Fit Into?

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Food for Thought is an ongoing column-with-a-conscience that focuses on exciting new discoveries in the foodie world.

What does it mean when we say something is larger than life?

Does familiar, good-looking food influence how we eat? If food had a voice, what message would it tell us?

Christopher Boffoli is a food writer and photographer. His latest work, Disparity, has experienced widespread success and was most recently published in the UK’s Telegraph.

“I have always been interested in size disparity and a juxtaposition of scales between people and things,” explains Christopher. “There was definitely some strategy in using food as the backdrop.”

“Food is something that is extremely common to everyone’s experience,” he says. “It is beautiful with great colors and textures. Food is one of those things that (paradoxically) Americans can talk passionately about in mixed company, with authority, and, yet, without controversy. Like the weather.”

The Disparity project does not deliver a literal message. “With this project, if I can surprise someone, give them a laugh or strike a corresponding chord with a childhood memory, then that’s a success,” he says. “I’d much rather have the work felt in some way as opposed to having something understood.”

There is certainly an element of amusement in Christopher’s photos. We can easily smile and be entertained. The photos tell stories that remind us of how food can shape our behaviour or dictate how we ought to behave. Food influences our surroundings, and our surroundings influence our food.

How does Christopher select his subjects? “I’ll usually start with the food, seeing what’s in season at the farmer’s market and consider what I’ve shot before. Or, I think about iconic foods, like Oreo cookies or Twinkies, and how an image of those things might tap into someone’s early memory (or current closet addiction or supermarket guilty pleasure). But I also consider how I can populate those images with figures with a context that makes sense.”

Christopher is an avid traveler and has a very strong connection to food. He feels that despite food being sensual and avidly discussed, many people in North America still eat a rather dull and repetitive diet. He wonders: have we become food spectators rather than protagonists in our kitchens?

“People dislike restaurants when they find things on the menu that are unfamiliar.  How on earth can the concept of ramps or jicama be so intimidating that you can’t just ask a waiter what they are?” asks Christopher. “Maybe some of that comes through in my work. Interestingly, I have shot pizza and French fries but foie gras and hamachi crudo have yet to make a set-up.”

Has food become too large for us to fit into?

Christopher Boffoli is a writer, photographer, filmmaker and artist. His work has appeared in newspapers, magazines and online publications around the world. He currently resides in Seattle, Washington. To see more of the Dispartity project, visit www.cjboffoli.500px.com