That’s total scallops!..


It is hard to imagine that the man in this picture, well known forhis even temperament, could be so tormented by an intransigent still life, otherwise known as dinner, and the vagaries of a camera self timer: and yet, it had all started so well. The kitchen had been calm: a culinary temple wherein was being performed that ancient ritual whereby man, with the aid of fire, transforms sacrificial beasts into lunch or dinner. Beasts, in this kitchen, are not necessarily four legged nor even, for the most part, scallops_provencal_0005legged at all. The red and bloody beast beneath my knife was completely free of any ambulatory appendages  but was no less a beast for the lack of them: the two thick meaty slices cut from this tomato, a native of my neighbour’s potagère, were to be the turf upon which would be placed the surf; a tsunami of coral edged scallops flecked with the green of flat parsley and the ivory of slivered, buttery garlic. Tomatoes in a hot oven for 30 minutes topped with scallops pan fried in butter with parsley and garlic:the plan was so simple and so we steamed quietly on towards the iceberg. It is said that we humans perform a great many of our normal functions unconsciously; driving a car is such a moment when each combination of movements between hand, foot and eye are not individually considered yet occur at the right moment…..for the most part. As I took the very hot tomato dish out of the very hot oven my automatic pilot was pouring a glass of red. Without his aid I performed a masterly fuck up of prestidigitation which resulted in a proportion of the hitherto perfect roast tomato slices being scattered over the open oven door whilst the dish containing the remains had taken on the look of a gaping wound of the sort that, in a hospital drama, would prompt our surgically masked hero to quietly intone “I’m going to have to call it…”. I, on the other hand dug deep into the mine of arcane profanity from where I conjured monstrous conjunctions of scallops fornicating with the inept cunts who had constructed the oven on whose door I was currently burning my arm.


I have long held the view that cosmetics have no place in cooking and this dish of scallops slavishly upheld this principle making me wonder whether minimal makeup might occasionally override the bare faced approach in future forays. However, as I have told myself over and over again, looks are not everything and this dish is very good indeed. As a footnote, it might interest you to know that I found the recipe in a favourite cookery book of mine – “Classic Conran”- and I have only just noticed that the recipe is illustrated with a few ambivalent black and white pictures, unlike the other dishes in the book which are glamourously portrayed in mono saturated colour, and which show little or nothing of scallops and tomatoes…could the well designed Conran fan have been hit by the very same shit that hit mine?

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.
This entry was posted in 2015, Baking, Cookery Writers, Cooking, Cuisine bourgeoise, Digital photography, Drinks, Fish, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Humour, Photographic Prints, Photography, scallops, seafood, Terence and Vicki Conran, tomatoes, Uncategorized, Vegetables, wine, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to That’s total scallops!..

  1. Mad Dog says:

    If it’s any consolation, I had the handle of a frying pan fall off as I flipped a tortilla, several years ago. The tortilla ended up as a squidgy mess all over the floor! The hard part in this kind of situation is the sudden loss of very much anticipated and delicious food 😦
    Perhaps a little Derek and Clive will cheer you up 🙂

  2. That has happened to all of us, unfortunately! But then I just go with, ahem, “rustic” presentation haha

  3. Phew – I thought I was the only one 😉 Loved this and a fantastic photo of you!

  4. ghetran says:

    Funny story! I would have eaten them from the floor! 😉 haha!

  5. jmcheney says:

    And chez moi, toujours the cat-hair hazard,or probably–le chat lui-meme juste la a ce moment!

  6. Francesca says:

    A good read. Llke you stream of consciousness raves studded with appopriate profanity.

  7. Eha says:

    There seems quite enough deliciousness in that serving dish to wonder about that ‘disgusted’ face 🙂 ! To each their own . . . I would have poured a glass or three of a Loire white !!! Enjoy your Sunday . . . .

  8. Sue says:

    Been there, done that….. And I rather think I would have been drinking a chilled Loire white with this dish….

  9. Conor Bofin says:

    I empathise. I was grinning until the last line where you made me laugh out loud. Great post.

  10. Of course I love the top picture 😀 But the picture of the scallops on the bottom is hunger inducing.

  11. Misky says:

    I think this is what’s termed a “blinder”.

  12. catterel says:

    I have a series of little white scars on my forearm like notches on a gun, souvenirs of brief encounters with a very hot oven that more than once have led to similar “rustic presentations”.

  13. fransiweinstein says:

    Ouch!! I’ve been burned by my oven door many a time, so I feel your pain. And I’ve cursed many a time as I’ve tried to scrape cooked food droppings, including tomato, off said oven door. So I hear you, literally. For what it’s worth your dish still look delicious. Coincidentally, I also cooked scallops last night, sans “beasts”. Love them.

  14. Brilliant.. of course.. c

  15. Michelle says:

    Where else could I read about “a masterly fuck up of prestidigitation”? And looking good, Roger. Too bad about the tomatoes.

    • As Sinatra said when he found someone sitting at hisfavourite table at Patsy’s in New York. The flustered interloper gushed with excuses to which a stone faced blue eyes laconically replied£” It happens……I don’t like it when it happens” 🙂

  16. You are fucking hilarious. I have truly missed what you do to words! Nice work my friend

  17. There’s a reason my dogs watch me cook intently. There is a good chance something will fall from the sky. Then if it’s something that will poison them like onion, it’s a mad dash to the floor to get there before them. I usually win but it isn’t easy! I wish I could get scallops here with the coral on them. I’d like to try that.

  18. This brings to mind my own wise decision to use a wooden spoon to push down the livers in the blender.. of course while they were blending. The lovely brown puree literally looked like S&*T on me.. on the ceiling.. only I cried because it was in front of guests:(

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