The pornification of food

23:13, Aug 16 2014
NIGELLA LAWSON: Celebrity chef or sex symbol?

Stop salivating over that cooking show. You're only doing it because your love life is starved of sensuality.

Stop spending so much money on expensive dinners out. You're only doing it because you're not getting enough. But don't worry - it's not just you. The whole country is doing the same. We're overeating, and undersexed, and it's not a very sexy place to be.

That's my new theory at least. Disagree?

That's cool.

But answer me this: When was the last time you had an empty stomach? And I mean a really empty stomach. A stomach so empty all you could think about was filling it.

How easy was it to fill?


Probably a lot easier that the last time you tried to fill that hunger for delicious, nourishing, life-affirming, mind-blowing, bed-rocking sex.

That is because, in this rich country, food is not sparse, and eating for pleasure is very possible. So very possible, pleasurable consumption of food has evolved into an art. Cooking and eating have been fetish'ised. Chefs have become sex symbols. Finger-licking Nigella. Lip-smacking Jamie. Quivering cooking contestants shaking with virginal nerves, whipping up delights we need, we want, we crave.

You hear about the pornification of our society. How about the pornification of our food? People spend fortunes buying adult literature, but based on the rate at which publishers pump out cookbooks, I'd say such literature attracts similar levels of spending. Even better, a compendium of big, beefy sausages dripping with salty sauce is far less likely to attract the ire of censors than an anthology of, well, other meaty weiners might.

Then there's the business of consumption - or consummation, you might say. Today, in many ways, the act of eating is very like the act of shagging. I say today, because now, in this country, in this age, it is possible to do both for pleasure, not just need. That's why so much fuss has been built up around both - accoutrements for eating, and for shagging, are sold as necessary means to absolute fulfilment. We buy fine china, we buy fine linen. We buy fancy degustations; we spend fortunes on fancy dates.

But, again, it's more likely we'll satisfy our belly than our body. So, it seems, we're a lot more likely to spend our cash, time and attention on the former pursuit. And, just as we might gloat about our romantic conquests, now we boast about our eating habits. We snap sexy photos of our meals and post them to Facebook, while perving on pictures of dishy dishes choking-up our Instagram feeds.

Is it healthy? No, I don't believe so. And I say that as someone who loves food, who trained as a chef before becoming a journalist, who now makes money as a food reviewer - and sex blogger. Yes, I'm glad people are taking an interest in what they eat. I'm all for enjoying excellent meals. But I don't believe this culture of everyday food decadence and obsession with eating is all positive. Too much of a good thing is bad.

Besides the obvious health risks associated with putting more food into our bodies than we actually need, there's also the risk of developing a culture that favours what's easier over what's better. Eating to feed a craving which actually has nothing to do with food is a problem. Developing rewarding relationships may be harder than devouring a sumptuous three-course meal, but that doesn't mean it's not worth the effort. Menus are designed to distract. Don't be.

But that's just my opinion. What's yours?

Do you think we're eating our way out of sexual dissatisfaction? Have we created a food culture because our love culture is so lacking? Or is our modern day food fetish a sign our civilisation is becoming more sensual, not less?

Sydney Morning Herald