21 March, 2007

of friends, and a quite perfect sandwich


































Now, normally nothing in the world would induce me to post a portrait of myself on this blog. Normally it would not enhance your perceptions of me, dear readers. But I have to tell you about my friend Vincent's photography, so you can say you knew him when. And he managed to make a not cringe-worthy image of me, so that tells you something.

I'm going to go out on something of a limb now and provide you with a link to Vincent's artistic website, but with a very clear caveat: you must be 18 or over to look at his site, and I will tell you that some of the images are quite shocking, even to my relatively professional artistic eye. He concentrates on the nude male body, no holds barred (so photographing me was a complete departure and an awfully nice favor!). I see his work as standing on the shoulders of the great activist photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, since no one can photograph men's bodies without incurring the legacy of those works of the 1970s and 1980s. But because Mapplethorpe achieved what he did politically, Vincent doesn't have to be political. He can choose to explore the pure physicality of the body, and celebrate the limitless variety of the human body, and revel in quite riveting and startling detail, without having to make any political statement at all. His generation of photographers reminds me of my generation of feminists: because of what people achieved with their intense boundary-testing 30 years ago, we can now happily enjoy cooking and raising our children, AND having a job, or not, without making a new political statement with every choice.

As Mapplethorpe's organization publishes on their website, "Some of these photographs were shocking for their content but exquisite in their technical mastery." I think Vincent goes beyond technical mastery (although he has that quality without question) and imbues his subjects with sensitivity and a great sense of humor.

In any case, my take on Vincent's work is that he is tremendously talented and expressive, and he takes incredible joy in bringing out the true spirit of his sitters, all of whom know we're in the presence of a really generous artist. And there's always a chance that someone reading my blog will be taken enough with his work to give Vincent some cool opportunity. He's already been approached by the fabulous international photography magazine Eyemazing, for a special feature in the autumn. Good on you, Vincent, and may the art world embrace you. Plus you're an awfully entertaining companion, and about the best friend anyone could wish for, in good times and bad.

Well, enough serious business! I had such fun yesterday meeting up with a new friend, who I will identify only as "6point7" as she appears on the internet. Can you imagine (probably you can, but I am very old-fashioned, really) having a friend you've met only online? We tiptoed around each other on the super-entertaining Matthew Macfadyen fan room, realizing that we share not only our enthusiasm for him, but even more for London. We both simply adore the fantastic spirit of this city, she rather more for its film and theatre worlds, and I more for... what? Its food side, and the fun of raising a child here, and just the irrepressible British personality that walks its pavements. So we cautiously decided to meet for lunch, and yesterday afternoon found us at Getti's in the Marylebone High Street. I stood outside the restaurant in the overwhelming wind, feeling buffeted and wishing I was carrying a rose between my teeth, when a lady approached me and said, "Are you Kristen?" and there she was! It wasn't even a bit awkward, as I had thought it might be. It's funny how you can gain a real impression of a person just through written correspondence, and it was very intriguing to try to match up the typed person with the real person, sitting opposite me in the sun with impossibly blue eyes.

We had a lovely time. She was very sweet asking about Avery; I think it is a special and unusual quality when child-free people have any interest in other people's children. Lord knows I could not be bothered to give the time of day to anyone's kids before Avery, but then I think we've established I am more self-centered than the average bear. We talked movies, television, star encounters we have reveled in, family, everything. She expressed the opinion that she's less intense in real life than onscreen, and I would have to say that seemed true; her real persona was unexpectedly gentle and warm, when I think I was anticipating a very strong opinion on lots of things. I wonder how differently I present myself on line? When I get the link to her film/theatre blog I will pass it on.

And the food was lovely. I had, I have to say, a completely forgettable plate of sliced tomatoes (I'm pretty sure I ordered tomato and mozzarella, but who knows), but it was followed by the best carpaccio I've had in London. I do tend to order it when I see it, because done well it's so simple: just thinly-sliced raw beef tenderloin with traditional accompaniments of shaved parmesan and a little salad. This beef was quite perfect, completely tender, and added to the plate were beautiful little crispy curls of celery. I am an utter sucker for celery in any form, likewise cucumber, so it was such a nice addition. And a tiny dollop of fresh pesto, always a good thing. 6point7 reported that her pumpkin soup and risotto were very good as well, so I think it's two thumbs up for Getti's.

Speaking of pesto, I have come up with possibly the perfect sandwich (I do love a good sandwich), and it's practically free. I am, as you know, devoted to roast chicken. It's cheap, it cooks itself, it's comforting, and after dinner you can make roasted chicken soup, and then you get sandwiches with the leftovers. Here's what to do. Click here and scroll down for instructions on roasting your chicken and making your soup. Then, once you've got your nice little dish of the chicken breast meat that you didn't finish at dinner time, at lunch time the next day you get it out of the fridge (hoping no one has eaten it at midnight, but since you're the only one up at midnight this should not be a problem). Then:

A Perfect Chicken Sandwich

1 whole meal pita, toasted and opened into a pocket
1 roasted chicken breast (skin on PLEASE), sliced thin
1 slice red onion, separated into circles
1 tbsp fresh pesto
1 tsp butter
four slices Double Gloucester cheese

Simply slather the inside of the pita with butter on one side and peso on the other, then tuck your chicken, onion and cheese inside. The result is pretty, with the purply onion and bright green pesto, and it's got crunch, herbs, creamy cheese and virtuous whole wheat. Plus, as I say, it's practically FREE. Of course if you wanted to skip roasting a whole chicken (one wonders why that would be, but one never knows), then you could easily buy a chicken breast alone, herb and butter it up, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes. In any case, tuck in.

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