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Food Porn

You know what I’m talking about. The luscious, glossy, highly coiffed pictures in cooking magazines. The beautiful young celebrity chef biting into a portabella burger as her eyes roll back into her head and she moans something like, “This tastes so good”. If you didn’t know before what it was called now you do. It’s called food porn.

Why am I mentioning this? Well, bear with me.

It was Valentine’s Day the other day and I had some strawberries in the fridge that were quickly passing their prime and I wasn’t sure how to prepare them. I pulled out my old, beaten, and loved copy of the Better Homes and Garden’s Cook Book circa 1953. I’ve talked about this cookbook before… you know the one… it’s got everything from the classic Pot de Creme to the bizarre Polka-dot Fruit Mold.

I turn to this book when I’m looking for something classic that doesn’t need a lot of modern twists. On Monday I was looking for a simple pudding recipe that I could put strawberries into. I found it: a recipe for vanilla pudding. About an hour later I had homemade strawberry pudding chilling in the fridge in heart shaped molds. It was good too; like a cross between a pudding, a panna cotta, and unfrozen ice cream. Oh man, it was sweet and creamy strawberry goodness. Why didn’t you see the recipe here on the blog? Well… more on that later… first…

One thing that I became aware of as I was flipping through the book, however, was the absence of pictures. Of course, there were some pictures: techniques are demonstrated through illustrations. Also, at the beginning of each section there are pictures of many items from the upcoming section that have been laid out as a picnic or buffet, but, I think (not 100% sure but I think) they are also drawings. Either way, they are not particularly appetizing.

Or, put another way, you can’t imagine what a dish is going to taste like from looking at the picture. (Which, I think is part of the purpose of food porn.) Rather, in this cookbook you have to imagine what the recipe will taste like from reading the recipe. Revelation. Two seconds of “research” showed me that my beloved Mastering the Art of French Cooking, my Gluten Free Baking Classics, and The Whole Foods Market Cook Book all also don’t rely on any photos. Hmmm.

If there is one part of food preparation I don’t like it’s presentation. Wait, scratch that, it’s not that I don’t like it, I just don’t care about it. Cake is going to taste like cake if it’s in a crumbled mess on the plate or standing tall in a stately and neatly layered slice. Is the latter prettier? Yes. Does it taste better? No. Once it hits my taste buds it’s just going to be masticated and digested. What it looked like is totally irrelevant… at least to me.

So what’s the point here, you ask? Why am I rambling? The point is I’ve decided to give up on pictures on the blog. I know, I know, when polled people say what they look for most in a food blog is pictures. I’m starting to think people are just looking for food porn. Besides, next to no one reads my blog anyway and I’m starting to think I like it that way. Rather than being erratic, unfocused, and unpopular I’m choosing to see the blog as lovably eccentric and selective! Like Cartman I do what I want. And I want to jettison the photos.

The photos are why I didn’t post the strawberry pudding recipe. I didn’t have any good ones. And do you really need them? A picture might be worth a thousand words but in a moving and dynamic art/science like cooking I’m thinking photos are a half-measure. Besides, who needs to see another picture of cookie batter scooped out and sitting on a tray waiting to be baked? No one. And we don’t need to see the onions caramelizing either. Because if you can’t smell them the pictures just a tease anyway.

Hopefully, this will result in more posting on the blog, and me getting the camera out of the kitchen and back to taking pictures of my kids… which is probably where it belonged all the time.