We’ve all been there, staring at our computer screen while clad only in our housecoats, gazing with wanton desire, mouths slightly agape with the soft “click, click, click” of the mouse as we flip through myriad images from our secret bookmark list. Occasionally our eyes will soften, a slight sigh will escape our lips and the incessant clicking will pause as an object of desire flashes onto the screen.
Our obsession even continues beyond the computer screen. We’ll huddle at the office with a few close and trusted friends while showing off the hastily snapped pictures of last night’s conquests taken on our phone. Sometimes, when we come across something so sensual, so vivid, we just have to put it out there and share so the world can see our perversion.
Yes friends, I’m talking about food porn.
At some point in our modern history we decided that we wanted to live vicariously — to pretend we could experience what is normally beyond our reach. We wanted to see what Hugh was seeing every night at the mansion, we wanted to experience the drama of being thrown into a kitchen with a dozen other people while being shouted at by Gordon Ramsay, and we wanted to put in our mouths what other people were eating at that very moment. From this desire came the deluge of pictures — a gargantuan pile of truffles shaved on poutine, a perfectly cooked steak the size of your head, or even just a wet, messy chili dog. Viola, food pornography was born.
Just like the human pornography enthusiast, the amateur food pornographer snaps pictures with his or her phone so they can relive the experience as well compare notes, display bragging rights and share the pleasure with like-minded friends. Most are open and brazen about their practices and will often settle and voraciously subsist on one or two fetishes, like extreme close-ups, runny cheeses or pink rare meats.
Not only are amateurs predictable in what kind of food porn they will make and consume, but they often congregate and share within the same cliques, strengthening their resolve. Meatatarians will find others of their kind using some kind of animal instinct while shunning the au naturel vegan crowd. By following a group, one can often discover useful knowledge, like how to smoke your own pork belly or what can be done with eight packs of bacon, while the group indulges and winds its collective way down the spiral of food depravity.
Food porn isn’t limited to amateurs who expose their greasy habits on blogs and social media sites; it is the professionals — the celebrity chefs, networks and production companies — that have studied us long enough to know exactly what we want. They’ve even introduced specific personalities and chefs to peddle their products to every taste and perversion. Wear white sunglasses and eat a lot of burgers? Follow Guy. Like to sound cool and sophisticated by using meaningless acronyms? Rachel’s your girl.
We have a never-ending appetite for more hardcore and interactive forms of food porn, especially with today’s in-your-face technologies. We can virtually dine with our families halfway across the country over video conference. We can see what people have eaten at restaurants. We can even satisfy our need for real food by having tacos delivered to our GPS-located phones via mini-helicopter. (Seriously... see tacocopter.com.) Our pleasure-obsessed brains want to experience as much as we can while having only so much room in our stomachs and our waist lines, so we turn to food porn to collectively experience more than a single person normally could in their lifetime.
While food porn is a gateway to experiences, we should remember the feeling when we finally sit down for a meal. After all, this is where everything begins.