I am a glutton, there are no two ways around it. I love my food, but it has to be the right kind of food. I rarely eat processed food and I tend not to snack, however I do indulge and for me, especially when travelling, the food part tends to be the most memorable and delightful aspect of my experience (why is that I wonder?).
I also love a drink. A chilly and pale glass of white wine, a malty beer in a dark but noisy pub, a sticky coffee liqueur enjoyed after a fantastic meal in a far away place. I could go on but I’m sure many of you are with me on this too. Especially looking at all these things from “afar” as we are now.
So what could make things better than to take away a double dose of the pleasure, a strong souvenir of a memorable place or time with lovely people and/or terrific views. Well, you could haul out the iPhone and snap away…it’s easy. Instagram is groaning with images of great meals, intact before the eater eats, so there must be so many of us who feel immense pleasure at the sight of something delicious and temptingly placed before us.
Or have some self-restraint (not easy at all) and whip your sketch book out instead to record all the delights in front of you.
Ask your friends not to mind you, tell them to start eating or drinking and put that pen tip to paper drawing the contours of the arrangement. Outside lines first then moving in on the wholesome detail, adding bits or leaving them out as you see fit. Keep your pen on that page as if you were maintaining an electrical circuit. GO SLOW and just look at what is on the plate in front of you . Phase yourself out, be mindful of sounds and smells and the bustle or laughing around you but keep drawing; smoothly, steadily.
Take your time. Go slowly around the shapes and notice tiny things such as bubbles in your aperitif, the piercing red of the coy stuffing in your otherwise quiet khaki-green olives or the glossy skin on that rich-looking chocolate mousse.
Take your time. Add details such as logos, names on restaurant plates or stickers on frosty bottles. Make a story, but in line. As you draw, all of your senses will be tickled and a very strong memory will be embedded. Sound, temperature, aromas, colours and taste.
Take your time. Add notes, written with care and again, with no haste. Menu offerings, the logo of the place, time and date. Record all this stuff. Satisfy yourself that you have got the picture, that YOU (not Apple) have made then stop and eat! It’ll taste amazing.
And colour? Well don’t bother about that until later. I absolutely promise you that the colour part will all be tucked away in your brain, that the info. will come flooding back, spilling out and onto your page once back in the safety of your place of stay. Get the jam jar filled, the paints unfolded and slap small amounts of sticky colour about whilst enjoying a tea, some wine, beer or whatever. It’ll all be there, stamped neatly into your memory and ready to go.
Well, I am still opening pages created in a now-scruffy sketchbook made some twenty-plus years back in Key West and reliving the bright citrus taste of the ice cream I drew (here it is). I can feel that crunch, the big waffly cone with a tase of vanilla and some other spice baked into it. I even remember it was Key Lime Pie flavour. I didn’t write it down, I just have that strong memory, that recollection of flavour and feel. Simply because I switched off and concentrated, allowing the imprint to happen and the snapshot to form.
Draw a cake. Or a curry. Or some beers and a bowl of peanuts. Or a triangular sandwich. Or a big, fat winter pudding. You will thank yourself somewhere down the line for the amazingly detailed and very lasting souvenir waiting to be re-experienced each time you flop open your sketchbook.