The aesthetics of food porn

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Screen print of an image search for “food porn” on ecosia.org

Do you see that golden crust and gooey amber? Oh, just ogle that drizzle and your tum will hum.

Any one of these metaphors and alliterations is as easy to make as five of the attractive dishes pictured above. Throw together the ingredients and shove the pan into the oven – wait wait wait! Where’s the cheese topping?

Yes, it’s the cheese that’s queen bee, and no plate should be left without its sticky coating of the milky wonder. So let me rewind and take you through the process – it’ll only take 16:02 seconds.

Food porn starts with the smallest ingredients and a little seasoning, just what every wannabee four-star sofa chef has in their fridge and cupboards. Cheap classics like chicken, bacon and pre-prepared dough cook the quickest and are admittedly quite difficult not to prepare properly. The next 5 seconds are tricky, and require much hidden skill. Raw cubes of food appear after a gentle but efficient Elizabethan wave of the hand, and as is well-known in these lands, no press means no mess. A mix and some breadcrumbs later, you’re ready for the most important step on this lightning culinary journey: cheesing.

That is, the first of three cheesing-stages. Because baby, you gotta ricotta. Move on to step two by wodging on some cottage cheese and garlic-your-fingers and breathe, for now the oven visitation may take place. There shall be heat, and asap. The final, crucial cheesing stage happens before the last few seconds of laser zapping. Be it mozza or lotsa cheddar, the queen must wear a crown.

“Food” is the easy half of the phrase. Food is necessary, food is good. The other half, is “porn”. Now if porn can feel good, there is more discussion as to whether porn is good – physically, morally, and artistically. Skipping the first two of those propositions, the artistic value of porn, especially food porn, is not the most obvious of its properties.

The usual food porn video involves the interaction of a pair of hands with various kinds of ingredients placed between the latter and a clean, monochrome surface. The hands reshape the ingredients into food with an ease which will seem surprising to anyone who has ever walked into a kitchen. Ha, porn.

However, the end result is the most interesting feature of what the internet buzz feeds us. The static birdseyish image is cut to a first close-up frame of a full plate. Colours abound promising rivers of eggy liquor, lakes of passata, and stringy lengths of the prophesied Mozza. A hand dives in. It plunges, tears and open up the lakes.

One long second passes before the solo hand’s return. It comes bearing noodles, chicken or shrooms. It comes, in a climactic moment of Joy, oozing the cheese out and spraying it over the rest of this Creation. Oh ok, porn.

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