A strange thing happened at a recent dinner I attended with my girlfriend, her family and some friends. Our entrees arrived to the table in typical fashion and I was about to wrap my chopsticks around a particularly delicious looking pieces of Toro when several others at the table asked me to hang on one second while iPhones were pulled out of pockets, purses and papooses (ok, no one had a papoose but I needed another p-word for carrying things). I thought for a moment that an important phone call had come through for three people at the table at that exact same moment, so important in fact, that my own eating ought to be delayed, if only slightly. The trimultaneous (just invented that word, you’re welcome) phone call was not the weird thing though as it was a complete aberration. The weird thing was that everyone started taking pictures of the food in front of them. The weirder thing was that my girlfriend’s 11 year old sister was one of the photographers. It was at this very moment that I knew that food porn had gone too far.
Yes, I realize that the words “11 year old” and “porn” are entirely too close to each other in this and the previous two sentences but I must address this social phenomenon with my adoring fans. For those that don’t know what food porn is and didn’t click on the hyperlink I provided above, I’ll quickly sum it up. Food porn is a popular activity by which a would be diner takes a picture of their food before they have started to eat, so that they can later text it, email it, post it to Facebook or otherwise distribute the picture via other social media vehicles to their friends, family and Facebook “friends”.
Now, I fully understand why some people would want to take a picture of the food they have ordered at a restaurant or maybe even the food they have cooked at home. These people are called professional chefs and they are doing research for a menu item. Or, they might be a professional food critic and they require a picture for the article they are getting paid to write. What I can’t wrap my, what I thought was a well-developed mammalian brain around, is why seemingly ordinary patrons of restaurants all across America and presumably the western world (I certainly hope that villagers in Africa aren’t doing this) are photographing their food. I enjoy a great meal as much as the next guy and will frequently tell a friend about a great brunch I had recently or a maybe even a really great steak. I also appreciate that you eat with your eyes first and no one wants to dig into a sloppy looking plate of food. Heck, talking about places to eat is pretty much all that people living in New York do besides talk about how big or small or expensive or cheap or poorly/well located their apartment is. But no one really wants to move. It’s so expensive to move and so annoying. But I digress.
I’ve been so mentally rattled lately by ever increasing occurrences of food porn that I had to do some Googling and figure out what was going on. What drives people to such odd behavior? The best I could come up was this article written by a clinical psychologist. It helped me a little bit but then I found this blog which totally took my spiraling back down. Strikes and gutters, huh? That’s how life goes though I suppose.
I leave you with a final thought. The next time your waiter sets down a perfectly medium-rare cooked duck breast with skin so crispy it makes George Hamilton’s skin look soft, don’t waste time making sure that the lighting is good, you’ve got the proper angle and start attaching that crazy telephoto lens to your iPhone. Just do what the waiter says and avoid the super-hot plate they serve it on (how do they get the plates so hot anyways?) and enjoy your meal. In the time it took you to stage the perfect shot for your food blog that no one reads anyways, you’ve insulted the chef because your meal has gone cold and now you need to have the staff reheat it, ostensibly overcooking it. Not only that, you’ve also manage to piss off other diners around you with your flash. For crying out loud, put the camera down and pick up your fork and knife. Say Cheese! No wait, I meant Bon Appetite. And for your viewing pleasure, this.