Tuesday, November 20The Voice of London

Engage your core with food porn: Hot, glossy and over the top

Image: Asya Gadzheva

If you strip away the sugar coating, resting juices and melted cheesy abominations, there are a lot of concerning similarities between the food and the sex industry. Its greatest virtue lies within the clever, controversially creative way of playing with indecency. All in a tireless service to pleasure.

Conventional porn tends to leave an aftertaste that is almost by definition wrongfully sinful. Over-glamorised food photography, on the other hand, has poured out into the mainstream. It has drenched our social media feeds in colourful extravagance and dripping ooziness.

We’re talking porn. #foodporn.

If we accept the phenomenon of food porn as the hugely successful brainchild of commercial culture, it becomes ever more evident how deeply appearance has engaged with the core of what food actually is. Can you really trade taste for visual satisfaction? Or indeed, are you required to?

As an obscure observer, you are hereby required to drool over every visual representation of a decadent burger, moist brownie or kale and avocado salad that scrolls your way.

The idea of food as a visual spectacle is a distinctly detailed and stylistically modified approach to cooking and food photography. It is never short to deliver on fascination, desire or indeed, likes. For the primary objective of all this provocative sensual stimulation is social media engagement.

People want to see and to be seen eating luxuriously tasty dishes. #foodporn sells.

Using food as means to attract attention is nothing new. Food as porn has been around since the 1970s.

When did it all start?

The term ‘gastroporn’ appeared for the first time in a report on a cookery book by Paul Becuse, published by the New York Review of Books in 1977. Earliest perceptions of food porn focused on the psychological implications of food picture content in books and magazines on the consumer’s desire.

In 1984, journalist Rosalind Coward coined the term ‘food pornography’ in her book ‘Female Desire.’ Coward spoke of food styling being intentionally provocatively pleasing and aiming to create a relatable feeling of beauty and pleasure.

The trend of assigning sensual experiences to food took off in the 1980s and 1990s and got picked up by the advertising industry. Ads placing food in an erotic or sensual context became more frequent.

The post-Instagram era

Along with Twitter and Pinterest, these platforms have developed an extensive network of devoted foodies, keen to view and create seductive food porn.

Millennials are one of the prime targets of this pleasure-seeking endeavour. They are arguably the biggest consumers and creators of food porn. Overeating on salivating and indulgent content, their social media diet would probably freak a couple of nutritionists out.

It is definitely an era of explosive visual stimulants. Debates over the effects of such finger-licking madness on eating habits have never been as strong. What millennials view and comprehend as influence on their daily menu is said to be one of food porn’s greatest threats.

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Generally, food porn’s radar tends to be quite restricted. Ingredients matter when and if they would look suitably photogenic. It has always been, as indeed still is, all about maximising visual and sensual pleasure.

With a growing followership and a bottomless supply, food porn is destined to be dripping mouth-watering gorgeousness over something more than the newsfeed. The hashtag is definitely here to stay.

Words: Asya Gadzheva | Audio: Asya Gadzheva | Subbing: Amelia Walker-Hall

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