Yep, it’s a thing – and then some. At the moment in time this article was written, there were 95,740,942 posts on Instagram containing the hashtag #foodporn. Also noteworthy was that plain old #food completely rocked out with a staggering 183,572,032 posts.
It appears that people like pictures of food (#understatement)! What started back in the ‘90s with the dawn of celebrity chef-dom and its ubiquitous coffee table, glossy paged and elaborately illustrated editions has blossomed into a global phenomenon/obsession.
We simply cannot get enough food related content – whether it be the bombardment of social media, the reality TV cooking shows, lifestyle blogs, dietary fads – you name it, it is pretty much extremely difficult to avoid, should you be even slightly tired of it.
“Chefs are the rock stars of this century,” said Tony Eldred, a Melbourne based restaurant consultant, in a recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Weekend magazine.
So, is it true? Instead of cranking up the sound system for soul-uplifting and stress-releasing, or waiting with bated breath to see favourite bands live and in the flesh – we now achieve that Zen like state from food, food, and more food?
And it appears that this is not a ludicrous suggestion – after all, reservations at the sort of restaurants referred to as “temples of gastronomy” are about as scarce as those tickets to sold out shows of the big name acts. Cooking is seen as the new therapy, food as medicine, looking at what others are eating and cooking is the new aspirational “wannabe” thing. Groupies are everywhere.
Trying to work out what it is exactly about the food thing that captivates so completely, and with an intensity which seems to increase, rather than wear off, is difficult.
The rise of the obsession can be seen to follow the dawn of the internet age and co-relate to the growth of social media, so maybe the fuel that fires it has a digital source.
But maybe it is simpler than that – in the same vein of the rock music thing, it’s all about letting off steam – so to speak!
Just a way to find comfort, to be immersed in the senses. The reason why the food posts on Instagram are so popular is that they give us a moment in time to visualise something we would rather be doing – a dish we would rather be eating, a craving for something that we just can’t have in the here and now, a memory of the good times. It is a momentary escape from the increasingly complex demands and pressures of modern life.
It is completely aspirational, in much the same way that the glamourous life of a rock star or supermodel is; this is stuff we want to eat, these are places we want to see and be seen, as well as the quick, tasty, nutritious and ingenious little lunches we would really like to throw together in five minutes ourselves. Sure beats the humdrum leftovers or tuna sandwiches …
Maybe it all comes down to the fact that meal times and the “sharing” of food – be it on social media or actually passing the peas at the dinner table – is one of the few anchors we still have in society that keep us connected with each other.
And in such turbulent and uncertain times, we just need to cling to the comfort of the memory, anticipation or actual enjoyment of a culinary moment.
Hmm … but then again, maybe this is all too deep and meaningful; maybe we actually never tire of the food thing, just because we are always hungry!