Sunday, January 25, 2009

Primordial soup and chilli

click photo to enlarge
Scientists say that the earliest traces of life on earth came into existence in a primordial soup. Thinking about it, and looking at mankind's trajectory today, I suppose the soup can't have been anything terribly sophisticated: certainly not a lobster bisque, clam chowder or watercress and Stilton. Perhaps it was a kind of hot mulligatawny, though I doubt it: far more likely is something involving a sludge of brown lentils.

But what if the scientists are wrong? What if, rather than soup, life evolved in some chilli con carne that, after an interstellar journey of unimaginable distance and duration, impacted with our planet? I know what you're thinking. How could a spicy bean and meat dish of Mexican origin get into space before the Mexican people have even evolved, and furthermore Mexico hasn't got any space rockets? Now I recognise those are good arguments against my thesis, but then how do you explain people's increasing liking for chilli, not just as a spice, but as a vegetable and a medicine? Do you think chilli would have spread, exponentially, from the Americas to every corner of the world, have found its way from savoury meals into corn snacks, ice cream, chocolate and other exotica, without there being a biological imperative underpinning the all-conquering spice? No, it was clearly sent to earth, and out of it came the life that now dominates our planet. It must have lain dormant until mankind evolved sufficiently to spread its essence throughout the world.

If, by some remote chance, you're still reading this rubbish you must be wondering how I know all this. Well, it came to me as I photographed a portion of chilli con carne in a plastic tub that was part of a batch cooked and frozen a few weeks ago. It was on the kitchen work surface, thawing out for our evening meal, and, as I noticed the beads of water on the inside of the plastic lid, with the glow of the chilli behind it, an image of the one true and original con carne - a cluster of asteroid-like shapes each ringed with ice on the epic journey through space - came to me. Look closely at my photograph and you'll see it too! Do you think I have enough material here to start a cult?

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f11
Shutter Speed: 0.5 seconds
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: Off