When chef Adélaïde Zollinger was accepted into one of the best pastry schools in France — run by Alain Ducasse — she and her husband André moved from their tiny apartment in Paris to Le Puy-en-Velay, a medieval town in Auvergne, a rural region in the center of the country. On their blog, Infinite Belly, they publish beautiful photo essays and recipes that celebrate the food, the landscape, and their shared life in France.
I chatted with André and Adélaïde — who have recently moved to Marseille — about their distinct visual style, their design inspiration, and approach to storytelling.
Your writing and photography intertwine food and place beautifully. Has life in France inspired your sense of storytelling?
André is American and Brazilian, with a diverse family background. Read more about André and Adélaïde.
André: I have always enjoyed writing, but the fortuitous circumstances that led me to live in France, my excitement and the seeming randomness of it compelled me to keep some kind of record. I guess I also wanted to fulfill this kind of fantasy of going to cafés by the Sorbonne and sitting and writing for hours. Later on when we moved to Auvergne, cooking took a central place in our daily life. So the two things went together quite naturally.
There were also so many new sights to capture and remember. I grew up in big cities, so I only knew the countryside from short weekend trips or vacations. But spending over a year in proximity to nature made me look at it up close; it gave me a lot of new things to think about. There is something about these blog posts that feels a little bit like reporting from a frontier.
Your site design is simple but sophisticated. Can you tell us about it?
André and Adélaïde use the free Libre theme. Simple tweaks, like their custom header, add very personal touches.
Adélaïde: I love the little designs and embellishments on old books: flowers, leaves, stylized letters . . . I find there is such a care for aesthetics in antique books (and, more generally speaking, antique things), and I wanted to try to recreate this feeling in our blog and have both vegetal as well as food-related doodles.
It was important for me to draw them myself (even if a lot of them are directly inspired by some old books I found in local brocantes or others I’ve had for years). After a while, they bring out a sense of intimacy and identity in a way that is very personal and hopefully unique. They also add an interesting visual break between text and pictures, like pleasant elements of punctuation.
Your posts are more than simply recipes — they’re intimate and offer glimpses into your lives. How does food help tell your story?
There is something about these blog posts that feels a little bit like reporting from a frontier.
Even though we don’t post without sharing a recipe, we wouldn’t consider posting only a recipe either. Somehow that would seem a little bare. Cooking and eating, maybe especially here in France, are very social activities. People often cook and eat together and of course, this naturally leads to having conversations, discussions, debates — which often end up being about food itself! Maybe this wasn’t very conscious, but our posts tend to render this kind of atmosphere, and recipes almost become a pretext for telling some story, a memory, an anecdote, an idea.
All photos above are courtesy of Infinite Belly.
Sunday is the first day of spring. Can you share a recipe with us for the season?
We tell a little bit about our very recent move to Marseille in this week’s recipe. We made saké and honey roasted asparagus puff tarts with goat cheese and basil and salt-cured egg yolk. We love asparagus: it’s a great ingredient to celebrate the coming spring.
If you were to offer one piece of advice to people who’d like to tell stories through food, what would it be?
Don’t necessarily look for links or relationships between what you want to tell and the recipe you want to share. We’ve found that many times, a dish we’ve recently made and what we want to talk about are not always connected, and it would feel artificial and forced to make it sound like they are. Fortuitous ties are often there for the reader to find and make out, and that’s more interesting than the obvious.
What’s one tip you can give to food bloggers who incorporate a lot of photography on their sites?
Vary it up a little and don’t just display pictures of food. Your environment, your house, your plates and cutlery, the nature or city that surround you — all of these things also nourish your site (in the strong sense of the word). Let readers into your living and cooking space and go beyond hovering over your plate.
Also, see what formats work best for your blog depending on your design and theme. We used to take a lot of pictures in landscape format but discovered that single portrait formats work really well for us to display large photographs and show details.