I first discovered the term GastroPorn during my [second] senior year of college when I decided to do my honors’ project on the philosophy of food as art. My project attempted to proclaim cooking as the lost art form that got caught up in the mundaneness we often attribute to the act because of the necessity of intaking nutrition on a semi-regular basis. The plate becomes canvas and the contents of our refridgerators the inspiration. The brain blockage you feel when standing before your open fridge with absolutely no idea what you want to make for dinner is very much akin to that of writer’s block or any other sort of inspirational hurdle other artists face regularly.
But what is GastroPorn? It’s sounds dirty. It not only sounds dirty it sounds doubly so. Porn AND food? How do you get that out of the carpet? But for those who are concerned that there should be a warning before this blog about how old you need to be to continue reading, fear not. GastroPorn refers to beautiful pictures of food. Occasionally people serve as props but the emphasis is on the food. And, usually, these people are clothed. The same, however, cannot always be said for the food.
Before I continue I think I should include a bit of clarification here about what I mean by beautiful pictures of food. We’re talking full glossy photos with proper focus and a full view of what matters on the plate or serving platform. None of these quick cell phone snaps of the totally awesome lunch you had at Subway. companies go through a lot of effort to make sure that the images they have up of their food looks good. Of course, in many cases, the way it looks in reality can be far from the photo but it made you want to eat it, didn’t it? I cannot begin to count the number of times I think I’ve found some delicious sounding recipe online only to see the poster’s photo of their last take and completely change my mind.
If you’re trying to advertise how good your food is I have two pieces of advice for you: (1) Take it seriously, doing things half-assed shows and even if your idea is brilliant no one will take it seriously if you don’t. (2) Be professional, which should happen if you are takking it seriously. Just because you have a brand new cooker and the top of the line set of knives does not make you a world class chef. Part of being good at GastroPorn is making things look legit. Do your research, see what looks good, try to imitate, do it till it looks right. Easy enough steps that too many people seem to think they are above. I’m sorry but there is a plate of cupcakes and then there is “A Plate of Cupcakes” by ——–. No one wants to make cupcakes that look like crap. People do, however, want to make cupcakes that look fresh out of Georgetown Cupcake (whose cupcakes aren’t the greatest in DC, minee are, but we’ll leave that for another time). For those of you interested in taking an MBA, you might be interested to know that being able to apply these two theories to the workplace can save you thousands of dollars in tuition and fees because it encapsulates a great deal of the management courses (as well as some finance).
When I say GastroPorn I’m usually referring to images found on the web or in various publications. In some cases it can refer to physical dishes that I have interacted with but since my skills of photography aren’t quite where I’d like them to be I’ll usually find an image of said dish if possible and use that as the visual PR. One thing to remember when I say GastroPorn is that i am referring only to the photographic or video representation of food. Not the taste or smell, etc. After all, we have a completely different term to differential regular porn and say a strip club, a prostitute, and our soulmate. One can expereince the art of gastronomy on many different levels. GastroPorn is one of the initial levels and I am working on names for the others (suggestions welcome).
The following images are what I consider to be GastroPornographic in nature. One warning about GastroPorn is that when viewed on an empty stomach it can do some damage so be aware. In some cases it serves to inspire what you should make for dinner and in others it just makes you go mad with hunger and you end up eating whatever you can get your hands on to satisfy said hunger. For those trying to “watch” what they eat, you should keep this in mind when looking up images of food in general. The same sort of rule applies to grocery shopping on an empty stomach.
These images are all scans taken of actual book covers in my library. They were also all bought in thrift stores. For those looking to increase their collection of cookbooks I would suggest this method of purchasing unless you are looking for a proper book on breadmaking and there are very few books I approve of on the subject to begin with. A good bread book with some basic images to help indetermining the whereabouts of your dough in the mixing, kneading, and baking processes is highly recommended although the internet can be a supplemental resource. At the same time I believe that buying a cook book should inspire you in more ways than how to mix ingredients together. There are some obvious exceptions to this rule (such as “The Joy of Cooking”) but so far the rule has assisted me in amassing a rather nice collection of GastroPorn that also helps in the planning of meals and menus for various sized gatherings and parties. For those who do not throw large parties often: Inspiration is half the battle.
Speaking of inspiration I think I’m probably sucking every last drop from my readers at this point and so will end this entry with a promise to try and do better in the future. While I hope to be a bit more inspiring with my posts I also hope to be a helpful aid to those who are thinking of taking their food to a new level (there are many, many, levels). This includes ideas from the everyday issues of cooking and food to the grand parties of 100+ people that you are going to attempt cooking for out of your grandmother’s cramped kitchen. I also promise there will be more pictures, recipes, and reviews.