Less Food Porn, More Food

food-porn

I spent my vacation reading. Reading books. You know, those things that have a bunch of words printed on paper and don’t have a touch screen? Yes, those things.

I was deep into “A Fork in the Road”, a lovely collection of food/travel essays, when it occurred to me: good food writing doesn’t have to be accompanied by food photography – or dare I say it – doesn’t even need to be.

These stories were beautiful, and I was inspired to get cooking (and eating) immediately, and yet, there was no food photo in sight. It was refreshing.

Here’s the dilemma we’re currently find ourselves in:

We spend much of our time during the day online. During that time we often come across a recipe or two. How do we determine whether or not it’s good? If there’s a salivating photo to accompany it. Smoothie in a Mason jar? Definitely making that. Simply worded, text-only explanation for how to make your own fermented sauerkraut? Pass. Bare hands holding a warming bowl of soup? Don’t even get me started (and if you want a real snarky take on said subject, read this).

This food porn disease is infectious, and it follows us from the computer screen and into the bookstore. Book covered in food porn? Get it! Book that has – god forbid – mostly words? Forget it.

And then what happens? We don’t cook. We spend so much of our time looking at food blogs, buying yet another cookbook that we’re sure is going to change our lives and watching other people cook food on TV that we forget what all this stuff was supposed to inspire us to do: actually make food. And you know what the funny thing is? When you’re making dinner, you’re probably not going to style it, throw on a sprig of rosemary, and carefully sprinkle some bread crumbs on the side of your plate to make it look rustic before sitting down to eat. Nope, you’re just going to cook and consume. Because when the camera isn’t there, that is what we all do.

I love food porn as much as the next person, but there’s a point where you hit the overdose level and you need a detox. My frequent frustration with food media is this: we let the photos do the talking instead of the story of the food itself. The photos are great, and the food is mediocre.

You know why people aren’t cooking? Because they’re intimidated.

“Oh shit, my vegan chocolate mousse didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to.”

Was it delicious? Yes. Did you forget to put it in a quaint glass jar and tie a strand of twine around it? Well of course that is where you failed.

We need more focus on food and less on photos. Photography is a wonderful and beautiful thing, and when done well, amplifies a story.“The Way We Cook: Portraits of Home Cooks Around the World” is a photography book that comes to mind which does exactly that. And there are plenty of very talented food photographers out there who I respect and admire. But the photos shouldn’t be a crutch to distract us from the matter at hand: cooking and eating, and cooking and eating well.

So you know what this year is going to be about? Telling stories about food and telling them well. Inspiring people to cook more and think about what they’re eating. Addressing all the problems in the food world that really need fixing (and a food problem is not defined as something that ends up on Pinterest Fail).

Get off the computer, read a good food essay and be inspired to make something new. And please refrain from taking a photo of it. But write a paragraph, or an essay and share it with someone.

Originally published on EcoSalon

Image: St0rmz

Comments 2

  1. What We’re Reading – Feb 1, 2014 | Chef Deborah Reid

    […] the overdose level and you need a detox. My frequent frustration with food media is this: we let the photos do the talking instead of the story of the food itself. The photos are great, and the food is mediocre.” […]

  2. Katye

    I feel like you were speaking directly to me!! This SO needed to be said! Thank you

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