Coming to Terms with Food Fetishization

I’m sure by now many if not most of you have seen
If not, or if you feel like looking at pictures of delicious looking food, click the link.

Starting this blog, I thought about all of the things I wanted to include: reviews, ideas, food philosophies, and the occasional snippet about my adventures with food. I also thought about what I didn’t want this project to include.  I noticed that one of my posts showed up on foodpress this morning, so I visited the foodpress site.  In an article explaining how to increase the chance of being featured on the site, the author explained that including pictures is crucial to attaining a greater readership:

“Images are critical when it comes to food. People want to see the food, not just read about it.” – source

Dear readers, is this true?

Food blogging can quickly become foofy – something I’d like to avoid. While I don’t take myself very seriously, I am fairly invested in food.  Many food blogs are centered around the production and consumption of food. That’s interesting, but I’m more concerned with the way food makes me feel and think.  The experience of dining is by nature, fleeting.  That is why I like to engage my brain by taking in all of the sensory elements working together to create the experience.  Taking pictures of food can be nice, but it’s something I don’t generally do for a few reasons:

  1. It takes away from the immediate experience of eating.
  2. It can be inconsiderate if you are dining with others or in a restaurant.
  3. The idea of cataloguing food by capturing it in photographs seems a bit possessive to me.

These are all subjective viewpoints, which are not even necessarily rational.  But I believe in the sanctity of food (I realize that might sound antiquated to some).  How is it possible to focus on eating if you are trying to decide whether to keep your flash on or turn it off?  It’s a modern problem, but by a similar principle I would not use my phone during dinner either.  Admittedly, the question of courtesy is not generally two sided.  Instead, it is more a reflection of consideration.

The other problem I have with obsessive food photography is the fetishization of the eating experience.  See this article from the New York Times.  My main concern with this type of behavior is what the heck are these people going to do with all these food pictures?  Taking pictures of oatmeal and porridge is even more bizarre than taking pictures of a thoughtfully plated dish at an expensive restaurant.  (Be sure to read my forthcoming post on plating)

But either way, I think transience is a part of the essence of food and the dining experience.  What does it mean to take the food out of dining or the dining out of food?  It’s no longer an organic experience.  I don’t bring my electronics to the dinner table and I don’t bring up food at inappropriate times outside of meals.  Isn’t the way food makes you feel more important than how it looks?

What do you think?  Does food photography enhance or detract from the dining experience?


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