Roger Stowell Photography
“…lost to almost everything but a vague sense of jam and idleness”* Although, pace Maggie Tulliver, in my case “jam” was supplanted by “lunch”. This perfectly conceived emotion had caught my imagination as I was reading last night and had come flooding back as I sat in our sun filled kitchen this morning contentedly considering, that most important of midday things, what should I cook myself for lunch. Cooking for oneself and eating alone is not to everyone’s taste but it is a pleasure that I have always enjoyed because it is not continually imposed. Memories of lone lunches, such as a well put together welsh rarebit with a bottle of cidre de garde at St,John, Clerkenwell or jamon iberico with a chilled fino at the bar of Moro, come to mind together with the fact that the dish in question was not complicated yet always satisfying and toothsome. Oeufs Meurette is such a dish and is perfect to make at home as the ingredients required are not too Hoxton so it’s more than likely that you’ll have them without losing spontaneity by first heading to the shops. Whenever I make this dish, which is probably two or three times a year, it occurs to me that I have never eaten a better version than my own…anywhere…yet.
Ingredients…( the amounts relate to me cooking this dish for myself )
Banana shallot 1
Lardons fumés 100gms
Garlic clove crushed
Large glass of red wine
Vinaigre du vin rouge/Jerez/cidre….add some to the salted egg poaching water
Cut the shallot into 4 quarters lengthwise and brown, with the lardons and crushed garlic, in the butter in a small, thick based, frying pan for 5 mins. Stir in the flour and cook, moving the ingredients about, for another 5 mins. Add the wine and bay leaf and cook, bubbling over a medium flame, until it has thickened. If it’s too thick, add some wine and so on. Season with salt and pepper …I add a pinch of sugar.
Meanwhile poach the eggs in boiling salted water and vinegar and, when ready, put them into a bowl or small dish.
Spoon the sauce around the eggs…..add some chopped parsley…I always have it ready and forget to put it on.
Fried bread is good with this.
- the quotation is from George Eliot’s “Mill on the Floss”
As a young photographer I was not interested in nor informed about the world of politics. My world was filled with more important things such as myself. I lived through momentous times without noticing much save that I wasn’t as important as I had initially imagined. And then I had left London, had left middle age and had realised how lucky I was to have made it this far without having ever having looked in my rear view mirror. Today, whilst rifling through the book shelves, I came across this picture that I had taken in the early 70’s.
The picture held memories for me as it was to be a cover for the iconic “Nova” magazine but it was the recollection of the process of creating the image that led me to write this post. On the day of the shoot the model duly arrived at the studio looking forward to being on the cover of the leading style magazine of the time. I remember she was very young and this was to be for her an important step up the ladder of recognition but, for all her inexperience, I could see that she was surprised at the lack of personnel present on such an important session. On such a shoot one would expect to see a stylist, a hairdresser, a make up artist together with the magazine’s fashion editor and her entourage of assistants and assistant’s assistants but there we were, the three of us….me , the model and the art director. And so the obfuscation begun. We were looking for a young natural look, which we assured her she possessed in spades, and which would be diminished by the primping and painting by so called experts in the field of beauty. Had she brought some clothes and jewelry for the shoot in line with our brief to her agency? Why would we want a stylist to provide clothes for a model such as her who, no doubt, had a wardrobe bursting at the seams with cool clothes…what do fashion editor’s know, for God’s sake? Having been assured that all she needed to do was to brush out her hair and leave the rest to the photographer she sat confidently in front of the camera and was surprised at how quickly the shoot was over. She was promised that she would be delighted by the result and it would change her life.
I believe therefore I am right……..ring any bells?