There’s a table in my laundry room that is probably haunted. I took it from the basement of the Diner (yes, Mickey’s has a basement, most are amazed to discover) when it became obvious it didn’t fit (for the basement is, as one might expect, puny, awkward, and un-plumb). It was most likely put there before I was born, to witness the myriad crises that might occur in an ancient, all-hours establishment. So I brought it home. To set food on and take photos. It’s probably haunted.
There’s a dog –a blind, red dachshund— that orbits my feet while I cook at the range, seeking a scrap of food. It veers around like a robot vacuum or automated pool sweep. As I made my way to the basement door, which remains closed lest the blind dog tumble to its death, I nearly tripped over the dog and died myself. But I lived.
When I was young my mom gave me one of those Mexican blankets with a hole for poking your head through. She said it was good quality and I believe her because she’d spend crazy sums on shit like that (I love you Mom). It’s wool. The head-hole is lined with leather. It smells like you’d imagine an adobe mission would. She probably paid extra for the smell. I thought it’d be cool to use it in a photo but I was terrified to spill something on it. So I set this bowl of soup on it.
No matter where I moved the soup it wouldn’t look right. There are stripes on the blanket that warped the perspective. So I forced it. In doing, I lost purchase and plopped my phone into the pozole, which sloshed all over the serape. Oh yeah, that’s what my mom said it’s called, not a poncho. Anyway, I spilled all over it. The soup’s called Pozole Rojo: it’s red. There’s pork in it, which makes it both good and greasy. Big, red, greasy blanket stain. But I was by the laundry basin. So I rinsed it quick while platters and tortillas and soup slid around everywhere. Once wet that blanket really smells like you would imagine something called “serape” should. I dried my phone (it’s in an Otter Box this not being its first foray into soup), stacked up the other stuff, and slouched back up the stairs. As I set the teetering pile on the kitchen table, I saw it looked sort of appetizing. So I took this picture then ate. It was tepid; so was I.
I read somewhere how it’s no longer in fashion to take perfect food photos, how the shots should show some humanity. A blemish, by the old standard, such as a crumb here and there, now conveys honesty and authenticity. Allow me to draw your attention to what looks like condensation on the spoon. Soup sloshed on it. You’ll have to use your imagination about the blanket.