Thoughts on… Food as the new porn

20Mar10


We now are beginning to use recipe books as inspiration rather than as a manual showing us how to cook.

In the 19th century, Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, for example, was the one book many households had. When we got to the 1950s it was the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book: The Cook’s Classic Companion.

Now we buy book after book and maybe, only maybe, do we convert one of their recipes from page to table.

It’s a bit like porn. You don’t act out everything you’ve seen in a porn film – and you don’t marry a porn star – but you might take some inspiration from it.

When I was growing up my mum only told me one thing about sex: don’t go into fields with girls. And that was when I was 12.

Luckily for me, at the same time I was going to confirmation classes at church on a Sunday afternoon, and the back of the classroom, chatting with my mates – particularly those who’d gone to Grammar School and were doing biology – was where I really learned about sex. The ins and outs of it, as it were. It was the only thing that kept me going to those classes and got me confirmed.

And if it wasn’t for porn I’d never have heard of blowjobs or anal sex. They didn’t teach that at school – not at my comprehensive anyway.

The same goes for food. The more images we see, the more we can explore. Our imagination allows us to fill the gaps of what we don’t know. Cookery books are a good thing because even if we don’t read them from cover to cover and follow every recipe to the letter, they get us worked up about food.

Take Heston Blumenthal’s books. Even if you’ve got one you’re probably more likely to eat at his Fat Duck restaurant than you are to ever cook something from one of his books.

But that’s not really the point of cookery books. It’s the power of the image that draws us in and excites our senses and imagination.

Long live pornography!

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