Photographers' Blog

Taste of England

By Suzanne Plunkett

Jellied eels. Toad in the hole. Bangers and mash. The Full English. An Eton mess. Trifle. Crumble. Yorkshire pudding. Scotch eggs. A menu of oddly named and sometimes oddly tasting traditional British dishes awaits adventurous diners visiting London for the Olympic Games this summer.

To an American like me, the names of English foods take some getting used to. Take the term “pudding”. In the States, a pudding is specifically a runny, milk-based desert. In England it refers to anything sweet served after the main course– unless it is from Yorkshire, and then it is savory, resembles a popover, and is served with roast beef. The closest thing the English have to American pudding is custard — a luminous yellow sweet sauce which they insist on drowning their deserts in. They consider it a comfort food but I find it revolting, even when my English husband tries to pass it off under the exotic French title of “crème anglais”.

I discovered my favorite English desert after I had been touring the country on a bus for four days. My taste buds had been numbed by a steady diet of egg salad sandwiches and salt and vinegar crisps (or chips, as we Americans call them) so the first time I tried an Eton mess, I swooned. The simple combination of crumbled meringue, vanilla ice cream, strawberries and whipped cream was heavenly. The name of the desert refers to Eton college, a posh school in Queen Elizabeth’s hometown. I imagine mess comes from the appearance of the dish. Recently I made one with my three-year-old daughter and she now shares my passion and nightly begs me to “make the mess again”. I admit, my taste buds might not be the most sophisticated.

Moving away from puddings, the dishes don’t get any less confusing.

I’m happy to report that no amphibians die in the making of toad in the hole — a bizarre combination of sausages entombed in Yorkshire pudding batter. This isn’t as bad as it sounds and toad in the hole recipes using quality sausages and fancy seasonings by celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay can be quite tasty. Done cheaply, as a ready meal from grocery store, it’s as grim as you’d expect.

The “full English” is a mountain of greasy breakfast foods that I imagine must be aimed at the hardworking construction worker with an appetite — or hangover — the size of a skyscraper. The ideal full English includes varying amounts of eggs, bacon, sausages, baked beans, fried mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, chips (by which I mean french fries) and toast. There’s also the option of black pudding — a terrifying slice of blood sausage.

Obesity in America

By Rick Wilking

Almost 2 years ago I started work on a photo documentary simply titled “Obesity in America.”  It’s a simple title but with complex subject matter.

Getting the access, the various permissions from individuals and institutions and working through the convoluted American HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) that protects patient privacy to extremes was quite a challenge. But trying to tell a story with this many layers and permutations was even tougher.

It was a hot topic back in 2010 when I started, with obesity-related stories moving frequently on the Reuters wire but with few images to go with them. I set out to change that and decided to work the project in multiple chapters.

Snails as food, snails as business

By Yiorgos Karahalis

One of my fondest memories is of the snails my mother harvested after the rains. I couldn’t wait for her to get home so that I could grab those tiny animals and play with them for hours, all the while looking forward to the next day’s lunch! Little did I know then that this childhood pastime was also a big business.

Perhaps it was my memories that led me to be intrigued by the story of Greece’s Fereikos Helix snail farming company, a successful business started by two sisters, Maria and Panagiota Vlachou.

“I was having dinner in Zurich as I was speaking to my sister on the phone. I told her that I ordered snails for near 37 euros. And she joked with me, saying we must start growing and trading snails,” Maria Vlachou said, explaining what motivated them to start their business in 2007.

from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A Week in Pictures January 23 2011

As India heads towards their Republic Day celebrations, Prime Minister Singh makes minor adjustments to his cabinet while outside on the streets people demonstrate over food and fuel price inflation and corruption. Adnan Abidi produces a great picture as a middle-aged demonstrator gets to feel the full force of a police water canon. In stark contrast, B Mathur gets a glimpse of the dress rehearsal of the full military parade planned to celebrate India's independence where the security forces are deployed in a somewhat different manner.  Danish Siddiqui added to the file this week with a well seen picture to illustrate a government spending initiative with a man pulling a pipe across a building site, the shadow creating an eye like image that almost seems to wink at the viewer.  

INDIA/

Police use water canons to disperse supporters of India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during a protest in New Delhi January 18, 2011. Thousands of the supporters on Tuesday in New Delhi held a protest against a recent hike in petrol prices and high inflation. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

INDIA/

Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers ride their camels during the full dress rehearsal for the Republic Day parade in New Delhi January 23, 2011. India will celebrate its Republic Day on Wednesday. REUTERS/B Mathur

from Africa News blog:

PHOTOBLOG: Children in Kenya and Haiti forced to grow up fast, if they survive

I had a flashback the other day when I was looking at photographs from Haiti of 15-year-old Fabianne Geismar, shot dead in the head after stealing wall hangings from a Port-au-Prince store, crushed in the Jan. 12 earthquake.

The image of Fabianne sprawled on the ground, blood trailing over the paintings she'd grabbed, took me back to my own childhood in Nairobi and the sight of a 7- or 8-year-old-boy - probably the same age as me at the time - who was caught stealing sweets from a street vendor and was beaten and burnt with rubber tyres. They called it mob justice.

REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

To this day, I'll never understand why that poor boy had to die such a violent and senseless death for something so trivial. I feel the same way about Fabianne - she survived one of the most catastrophic events in living memory, only to be shot in the head for petty theft. And for stealing wall hangings where there are no walls.