In our final interview of 2016, we talk with the talented Chiron Cole. A skilled photographer and actress, Cole is currently at work on a food-themed undertaking that engaged me enough that I was glad for her being willing to take the time to chat about it not long ago. Titled “Sunday Dinners”, the project is a photographic study of what people from all walks of life tend to eat on Sundays and why. Chiron talked with me about the birth of this endeavor, as well as her own recollections of Sunday meals, and the origins of her fascination with how people eat.
Flavorful World: Tell us about your recollections of childhood Sunday dinners. How do those meals differ from your Sunday dinners nowadays? In what way(s) are the two alike?
Chiron Cole: I remember sitting in church as a child, willing the time to pass so I could go home and eat. My mind would be wandering and all I’d be thinking about was the comforting, delicious food my mum had prepared but was yet to cook. Inevitably, daydreaming made the time pass more slowly. The food we ate would differ weekly. My mum is a ninja in the kitchen and whatever came out of there would be delicious. We might have had a traditional Sunday roast one week, or a West Indian feast, or ribs and corn on the cob, or mince and dumplings with loads of veg. The meals were always varied and delicious. Pudding though was a different story as I was a creature of habit and adored anything pastry based. Either a Bakewell tart, or flapjack tarts or any type of crumble (turned upside down so I could scrape the fruit off and eat that first.) It was compulsory that all were served with custard and never ice cream. Sundays were always about being comfortable, indulgent and satisfied. Not much has changed. For my husband and I, Sundays tend to be very relaxed unless I am shooting, then I’m capturing someone else’s Sunday rituals which so far, like mine have tended to include a lot of relaxing.
FW: Earlier this month, you tweeted about a Ferrero Roche-themed pop-up that opened recently in London. If you were tasked with conceiving a themed pop-up establishment, what sort of venue would you select (restaurant, bar, gastropub, etc.), what would be your chosen theme, and why?
CC: I think it would have to be a Sunday Roast themed pop up. There are so many different ingredients and dishes and an infinite number of ways to cook them to make up that one meal. I think it would be a great way to showcase those dishes and have as many or as few as you fancy.
FW: On your site, you describe yourself as being fascinated by people’s eating habits. Where was this fascination born? What aspect(s) of these habits is most intriguing to you and why?
CC: I think it’s because since I was a child, food has always been a very emotional experience and always connected to how much money we had as a family at any given time. Whether it’s because you eat to live or live to eat there is a deep personal relationship I find a lot of people have with food. So many of us have dietary requirements or intolerances and varying budgets I find it intriguing what people choose to fuel their bodies with and why. I also think food can connect and unite us. It’s an easy conversation starter too and people are always eager to share tips or gadgets or recipes. Nowadays there is such a huge array of ingredients to cater for everyone irrespective of budget/diet/intolerances that people can be more creative than I ever remember growing up.
FW: What is the most unconventional Christmas holiday meal you’ve ever prepared, and what inspired your menu selections?
CC: This is a tricky one as all the meals I’ve prepared around Christmas have been very traditional. The most unconventional Christmas meal I’ve eaten was on holiday in Jaipur. I had the most amazing thali I have ever eaten. It was divine and we ate it in the restaurant of the hotel, which was nestled in the middle of their stunning vegetable garden. Dessert was a freshly made an apple pie and custard. A nod from the chef to the festive season. It was arguably the best apple pie I’ve ever eaten too.
FW: What discoveries of common trends or themes has your study of Sunday dinner habits led you to thus far? In what area(s) have you observed the greatest degree of divergence?
CC: It’s been a fascinating project so far because although what people eat is very different, many people use memories from their childhood to form their new Sunday traditions. Whether it’s using a grandparent’s dishes collected over many years from France, or eating meals that remind people of school dinners, or using recipes that are over fifty years old, everyone so far has had a beautiful memory that they hold on to and weave into their Sunday somehow. Most importantly, for everyone, Sunday is a day for downing tools and being still or doing very little, with loved ones.
FW: What food/cooking/restaurant trends do you most look forward to experiencing in 2017?
CC: There isn’t one trend as such that I want to experience but I will continue to and would like to see more people eat sustainable produce.
FW: Excluding the name of any of your pre-existing blogs, websites, or print/online personas, tell us what name you would give to your memoir about your culinary exploits?
CC: “For the Love of Food”, or “My Food Obsession”.
FW: When you aren’t cooking, eating, or photographing delicious food and drink, how do you most enjoy spending your time?
CC: I love traveling and experiencing new cultures. I try to work abroad as much as possible and try to explore if I get some spare time. Being able to try and photograph different foods while I’m away is a huge perk.
*Note to readers: Catch up with Chiron at her website , and stay abreast of what people are throwing down on Sundays as far as eating and drinking by following her on Instagram and Twitter. Want to feed your eyes, mind, and stomach even further? You can do so by making a second home for yourself at the site for her Sunday Dinners project.
This article first appeared on FlavorfulWorld.com.