The frog and the photographer…

Notwithstanding the promise of a magical transformation into handsome prince, I can understand why princesses were hesitant to do tongues with a frog. I feel the same, yet over the last few days I’ve been emotionally involved with one of the little chaps. I say little “chap” in the terms of a friendly diminutive as I can’t be sure of the gender. Maybe I’m seeing her masculine side or his feminine side…it’s like catching a glimpse of Annie Lennox as she pops her head up out of a dark pond and submerges nearly immediately. The relationship hasn’t turned physical yet, although I must admit that I’m the one making all the moves at the moment. There is a well like structure, that houses the pumps, at one end of the pool, intently staring down into which on bended knee, net in hand, I can be seen most mornings and evenings.The frog, the subject of my affection, is trapped in the depths, …Lennox le Grenouille sits on the flotation switch of the cave pump, cold and alone. How many times did he not listen to la mere Grenouille when she warned him against leaving the safety of the pond. Lennox disregarded her dire admonitions. As I open the trap door, Lennox looks up at me with a very appealing frog expression, which I am reading as “Get me out of here”. In reply to this cri de coeur I lower the net, Lennox panics, and disappears into the dark waters. On two occasions, I have netted Lennox and brought him/her nearly to safety, only for frog fickleness to intervene. With one bound Lennox was free…wrong….Lennox was back in the oubliette. I shall persevere and let you all know if I become a princess…or hopefully a prince.

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The green of frogdom has brought to mind the wonderful pile of artichokes that were in the shops yesterday which reminded me that I hadn’t cooked one since last year. Preparing and cooking an artichoke is very undemanding and the ritual of eating one is comforting in its familiarity. Hopefully, if the artichoke has been chosen well,  each leaf will be blessed with a plump, fleshy base which has conveniently grown into the form of a spoon to carry a gob of well flavoured vinaigrette.

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Artichokes need conversation. They are not a dish to eat without company. The slow ritual of removing each leaf needs to be interspersed with words and sips of wine….a young red such as a Chinon, from the Loire, is very good to my mind. There is something atavistic and carnal about eating an artichoke, which is unusual in the consumption of a vegetable, as each leaf that is removed and eaten brings us closer to the heart which is, after all, why we started in the first place. Now I must see about the toad in the hole.

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About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
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63 Responses to The frog and the photographer…

  1. Vicki says:

    Stunning photos (as always).

  2. Mad Dog says:

    I can imagine a couple of little legs sticking out from the middle of the artichoke, perhaps with some hollandaise. He’s obviously suicidal, so it’s best to put him out of his misery 😉

  3. cecilia says:

    Oh no, poor little froggie (oops sorry) poor little Frog. What is he/she thinking? Maybe he likes it down there. Have you given him a wee raft to rest on? When he gets tired of swimming in the well. I once spent a summer trying to photograph a frog who lived in a water barrel.. no luck. Beautiful images as always.. c

  4. Beautiful and quite funny post! Would love to see pictures of your fellow frog friend (we don’t get to see much of nature in NYC).

  5. I can’t wait to see the first good artichokes in the store. We just had an ice storm so it may be a bit.

  6. Love those artichoke pics, absolutely gorgeous. Let us know what happens to the frog – I love that sort of random encounter with nature.

  7. Beautiful photos. Artichokes are so much better than a big Mac menu, but the two do have one thing in common: You have twice as much to throw away when you finish eating as when you started out.
    I think that Lennox doesn’t want to be saved because she has a plan. She has probably dug an underground tunnel with a frog-sized spoon, and is currently finishing the last section just below your office. Stash away your goodies, Lennox is on the way with a crowbar… 🙂

  8. kstienemeier says:

    quelle belle histoire! lovely post very fitting for an artichoke.

  9. margaret21 says:

    Ah! No frogs here, only, once upon a time, a lonely toad. I agree about good artichokes needing good company. What to do with a husband who, quite simply, doesn’t like ’em?

  10. Fig & Quince says:

    no frog fickleness on my part when it comes to reading your blog. Savoring the fascinating narrative and super pretty photos. Interesting story!

  11. “Lennox le Grenouille sits on the flotation switch of the cave pump, cold and alone.”

    I know of only few flotation switches inside the home. I’m under the impression European architecture doesn’t facilitate sump pumps that much either. Would that oubliette happen to be a common household fixture often comprised of porcelain?

    • It’s a complicated set up, Nate. Our pool was badly installed…I know this as I was one of the people who installed it. At one end there is a shaft, 6’x 4’x 3′, to house the filter and pumps. It also acts as an overflow for the pool, so in this rainy weather there always about 18″ of water in the bottom. It would be more if I did not have a sump pump. It’s down there that Lennox has made his home. The shaft is so packed with kit that it’s nearly impossible to get in there, even if I wanted to do that. IN mediaeval times bad people were wont to dig holes in the ground into which they put their enemies. They would seal the top with a grille to allow light and rain to enter but to prevent anything exiting. That was called an “oubliette”…a place were people are forgotten.The difference is that Lennox is not forgotten and I didn’t put him in there. We need International Rescue. Thunderfrogs are go:)

      • Oh, it’s your pool! Apologies, Roger. I think the removal of mine two years ago and ever-present snow still have my thoughts turned to the inside of a home. I refer to the Fields as an oubliette of sorts from time to time. I watched a PBS show about the subject a while ago and their featured specimen had a small hole out to the dining room. This was assumed to allow the condemned to hear the din of people feasting throughout the day.

        May Lennox find its way out of such a nasty predicament.

      • I don’t like the sound of the oubliette under the dining room. Lennox, on the other hand, continues to elude rescue and seems quite content:)

  12. Amanda says:

    I really like the way you describe the process. I’ve always been a little wary of artichokes for fear of too much risk, not enough reward.

  13. I’ve never actually eaten an artichoke in whole form, only in spreads. Great photo!

  14. Beautiful photos…just gorgeous. I’ve just started noticing artichokes at my local greengrocer and may have to serving them so that my teenage son has no option but to sit and converse at the table – he is at the stage where he is so hungry and in such a hurry that he just bolts his food down! Will be needing regular Lennox updates – how sweet that you have tried to rescue the cheeky little jumper…

  15. I was expecting an article about perhaps your local mayor or a French celeb! Frogs are much more interesting. And I felt all nostalgic thinking about artichokes. We have so many of them in Spain but they pick them really young and only tend to eat the hearts. Oh how I long for a decent sized one dripping in vinaigrette!

  16. Beautiful. I’m hopeless thus far on artichokes but this makes me want to try again.

  17. Eha says:

    Look most enviously at your artichoke ~ we have five months to go to that bounty . . .but when I hold my first treasure of the season in hand I must remember to try it with a ‘young red’ rather than a ‘mature white’ 🙂 !! Your froggy visitor must be comfortable just where s[he] is . . . would not return to new abode otherwise!!

    • This could well be the case with Lennox. Yesterday afternoon he seemed to be very content. I shall keep an eye on him. By the way, if you drink a red with artichokes you need to look for a light wine. Australian reds tend to be a bit “in your face”. If you can find a young wine from the Loire, it’ll work…otherwise, stick with the white route.

      • Eha says:

        Well, I love Loire whites but know little about their reds . . . and I have been rather unpopular with many a local beau for not being overly enamoured by our famous Hunter River reds . . . so I’ll keep your advice in mind 🙂 !

      • Look for Chinon, Bourgueil or the delicious Sancerre Rouge.

  18. Michelle says:

    Such beautiful artichokes, Roger. Poor Lennox. She’s probably afraid she’ll end up on one of those new plates.

  19. Given all the junk I am being forced to eat in the back end of Mississippi, this post is torture, Roger. Sheer torture.

  20. ChgoJohn says:

    If the photos that you submitted were anything like these, you’ve won the competition, Roger. Start chilling the champagne.

  21. MELewis says:

    Please save Lennox! I do have a soft spot for frogs…

  22. Jean Cazals says:

    Gorgeous above shot of a perfect ‘arty-chaud’ ! 😉 Jx

  23. Karen says:

    An artichoke never looked so good. I have two that I’m getting ready to stuff with breadcrumbs.

  24. catterel says:

    Lovely post – and as I’ve come to it late. lots of entertaining comments, too! Green with envy at your photos xx

  25. Artichokes do inspire conversation, a perfect snack to go around that table and a perennial favorite. Such lovely greens, Roger! (And Lennox 🙂

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