Scones, Quince Marmalade, Tea.
Being smack in the middle of Fall, the quintessentially brittish activity of drowning cup after cup of tea is right up my alley. You see, I am a huge fan of tea with milk - maybe a little toomuch milk for a true brit, but hey. - and yet, I don't much care for it during summertime. I like my tea piping hot, and the Summer heat does not make that an enticing experience. There's a soothingness, a comfort in drinking hot tea when the weather is 'miserable' outside, with gales of wind shrieking through the trees, and burst after burts of showers dripping from the sky. There's a psychological warmth in it, like a warm hug, a cozy blanket, a candle lit, there's something about a cup of hot tea when it's cold and grey outside that immediately turns that moment into one of the best moments in the whole of a day. At least to me.
Obviously enough, tea asks for scones in my book. I recently came across something one of my favourite bloggers said on instagram about artifice and authenticity, that made me ponder long on what it really means being authentic, and how much of our lives are lived in artifice and settings. And how is it bad, and a sin, to do it, to stage a moment that is going to be shared? I staged this pictures the same way I stage a dinner party table for a gathering at my home. It is artifice, even if I do not share that moment in a blog or instagram. But at the same time it is authentic, because I set the table for a dinner party, and that's all part of a larger artifice that is entertaining a group of people - at a table, yes, with food and drinks and conversation going round. But it still is an artifice, the way I lay that table, the plates and cuttlery I chose, the linens, the glasses, the food! And yet... it is authentic. Because it's life, my life, lived in the flesh, and the bone, sitting round that table with a bunch of people, watching them enjoy the food, the drink, the table I layed, the whole artifice that is quite authentic at the same time, because it was done with heart. I staged the set for them, out of love and care. It is staged, make no mistakes, but it is still authentic, and I put myself into it, so there's me, on those dishes, there's my heart in that tablesetting, there's my life right there at that staged moment. Even if it did make it into a blog post, or an instagram picture.
Like these pictures. There's the scones that to me are the perfect company for a cup of tea. I baked those scones and then I set the table. I even added a pine cone, for Fall vibes' sake. Is it artifice? Maybe it is. But it is also authentic, because it is part of my daily life, of my self. Having cups of tea with milk and scones while I pretend to be quite brittish is an artifice, sure. But is also authentic, because that is the way I am, that is who I am. That is part of my life. Is it fiction? The setting, perhaps, the elements arranged in a way that they tell a story. I would like to believe that they do tell a story, the story of a cold, wet, miserable day in November, inside a cozy home, with a table set for sharing a little warmth with a loved one, the comfort of delicious food, the heat of tea. I do hope it looks fictional enough to tell this story, or any other story you would like to convey, just by seeing these pictures. But at the same time, this is life, my life, as I sat down to a scone or two, lathered with sweet marmalade, warmed up by the tea I served.
And quince marmalade? Was it an artifice, the chosing of it? Why, of course! It's Autumn, and quinces are still abundant at local markets. Nothing like using them to cook up something as sweet and filling as a quince marmalade. So utterly Portuguese. So authentic, because I am Portuguese, because this is the Portuguese Autumn, and we cook Portuguese food with Portuguese ingredients, and quince marmaled was the only kind of jam I had in the fridge! So authentic. And yet so artificial, staged for the moment the shutter sounds that click and you're left with that image that will endure, that will prove that moment existed, an image you can now share on a social network for the whole world to see that you baked some scones and made some jams and are sitting down to a nearly high tea moment. Staged it for the whole world to see? Or did I just take advantage of an authentic moment whilst living life to share my art? Before the advent of photography it was not unusual for painters to grab a few pieces of cutlery, some dishes, a plate of fruit, or a roast, or a stew, and paint that. Still natures, right? So where's the difference? For said painter to paint that roast capon, someone had to cook it. It was still authentic, someone cooked that dish and would eventually eat it. It was still art. I do not play with brushes to make my colours sing and combine, to drowse shome shadows or bring others to light. I play with what I have, chosing the elements and the time of day and the location to add textures and light and enhance colours while drowning others. Is it art? Is it artifice? Is it authentic? It sure is my daily life.