Food Styling : Perfect Imperfection – my new normal.



“Who me ? “

“ Noooooo, surely not!” aghast, and utter disbelief.

I could not believe the answer I was hearing, surely it was a mistake?

So I asked again, “Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the perfectionist amongst us all?”

“You are” came back the response, again. Without hesitation. No. Mistake.

As the saying goes, “never ask a question you do not want to hear the answer to.”

What do you do with that? What do you do with a revelation so unexpected it quite simply leaves you dumbfounded.

Well, there was only one thing to do, I consulted those around me, surely they would back me up, there was no way the reason for my difficulties with a particular person was due to my perfectionist personality disorder ( my term , not a medical diagnosis)

One by one I confidently enquired of my  friends and family “ am I really a perfectionist ? ”

My nearest and dearest were not astounded that I asked the question, no, they were astounded that I had so little self knowledge, or self awareness, or whatever you want to call it, that I did not know this about myself.
The words “duh” where said more times than I care to count.

The Enneagram personality test so accurately described me, it was no wonder I was in denial, I even had an idea of what a perfect perfectionist looked like? ( and it wasn’t me.)

Procrastination is a character flaw, fault, I am well aware of, no mirror required. A constant struggle.
More often than I care to admit, miss opportunities because I’m so focused on “ getting it right” as opposed to getting it done. A crippling tendency to focus on too many small details that I often become so overwhelmed I do nothing.

This is a classic symptom of perfectionism.

I procrastinated so long on this blog post, for so many reasons, the timing, the season, the lightening ( the photographers concern not mine), the writing….

That’s when I realized, I need a new norm.

Less perfection, and a lot more appreciation.

The spilt salt next to the chopping board, ( I couldn’t have styled the casualness of it if I had tried ) as I cook my husband breakfast. Not a perfect marriage, a union filled with more faults and flaws, challenges and obstacles than I would have imagined on that seemingly perfect day six years ago. Imperfect, yet perfect for me.

The beautiful swan stems of the tulips on the sideboard. Curving and drooping after a few days of freedom from their brown paper straight jacket. So carefully were they portrayed as perfect and upright prior to purchase. Once the shiny cellophane exterior was removed they couldn’t suppress their true nature, not one identical bud, each one unique and different.

These amazing quinces. Not one the same shape. Not one of them perfect. Yet each one so absolutely perfect! I love these pictures, I love the props, I love the lighting, I love every imperfect detail of this shoot.

This post, not as well written as I might have liked, but it’s done, and without further delay, and too much editing, no more perfecting and procrastinating, agonizing and scrutinizing.

Imperfection, my new perfection.

Poached Quince with Pink Peppercorns & Bay
Sticky Poached Quince with pink peppercorns, bay and vanilla

To prepare the quinces, wipe them with a dish towel to remove the downy fur

Prepare a bowl of lemon water, and pop the quinces into the water once you have cut them
the flesh discolours quickly and as cutting them can be quite a task, its best to have the lemon water ready.

6 quinces
2 liters of water
2 cups sugar
1 lemon, zest and juice
2 tablespoons pink pepper corns, slightly crushed
2 vanilla beans, split
10 bay leaves

Drain the quinces from the lemon water and place all the ingredients with the quince quarters in a large pot.

Cover with a round of grease proof paper with a hole cut in the centre ( the size of a R5 piece or a walnut )

Simmer ( don’t boil) for approximately 1 1/2 – 2 hours, and is easily pierced with a sharp knife.

Remove quinces, increase the heat and reduce the liquid until thick and syrupy.

Serve quinces with blue cheese and drizzled with the syrup.
Cooked quinces will keep for a week in the fridge.
You could also try bottling them in the liquid, I did not, but will give it a try next time.
Serve the “preserved quinces” along side a mature cheddar and some goats cheese.

Quince porty shoot 22-05-20150509

Roasted Quince with cinnamon, mace and star anise

The fragrance of these roasting was beyond description. If the poaching recipe above seems a bit labour intensive ( its not really) then give the roasted quinces a go.
I didn’t really measure, and cooked more by feel, so this is a rough guide.

3 quinces
500ml water
1 lemon, finely zested and juice
100g fragrant honey such as orange blossom
2- cinnamon sticks
couple of pinches of mace
4 star anise

Preheat the oven to 180C

Place the fruit cut-side down in a roasting tin. Whisk the water, the lemon juice, and honey together, and pour over the quinces. Scatter the spices around the quinces in the tray.

Bake uncovered for approximately an hour, until sticky and golden. Flip the quinces right-side up and continue baking until very tender when pierced with the point of a sharp knife– about another 15 minutes

Remove the pan from the oven and set aside to cool slightly. Serve warm with cream, custard or vanilla ice cream.


Imperfect Recipes & Styling Taryne Jakobi
Perfect Photography Libby Edwards


Quince porty shoot 22-05-20150476

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