I was wandering around the eGullet site, I noticed a thread discussing a Frederick Kaufman interview on NY Public Radio, comparing FoodTV to porn. Listen to it if you can--it's interesting, but if you (like I) are on dial-up, be prepared for about 20-30 minutes (thanks to the bf for letting me use his highspeed).
As someone who uses The Food Network as company while puttering around or doing homework or convalescing on the chesterfield (or writing this article), I say..well... yeah?! Of course cooking shows are porn...it's just porn you can watch if your parents/kids/boss/secretary/parish priest walks into the room.
Todd first pointed out the similarities to me a couple of years ago, using Nigella Lawson's shows as proof (and he should know)--lighting, camera angles, focussing in and out--plus, well, it's Nigella. The way she licks her fingers and coyly glances at the camera, her curvyness and then there are her little appreciative noises...
Look at the way things are presented on a number of shows--lighting to capture the glisten of a steak and pumped up audio track to capture every sizzle, slurp and snap during the cooking and eating processes. Have you ever noticed how gosh-darned perfect the produce is-I've never seen tomatoes that red in my local Zehrs, nor peas so plump nor meat so perfectly trimmed. Yeah, it looks so easy when you have swap-outs and food fluffers on set.
The presenters seem fall into few stereotypes (my comparisons, not necessarily the radio show's): the hard-edged chick who's done it all and seen it all (Christine Cushing), the good-time girl disguised as Miss Sweet-and-Innocent (Rachel Ray), and of course the one who spent too much time in the make-up trailer and looks kinda skanky but men probably drool over (Giada diLorentiis). And then there are the men: the knight in shining armor (Tyler Florence), the bad boy (Gordon Ramsay) and, one of my favourites, the lovable geek (Alton Brown).
The music doesn't help/hurt...he station ID music always sounded as if heavily influenced by "The Stripper" to me.
If anything in the comparison bothers me, it's the idea that food as a taboo.
I mean, with real porn, picture has always been the horny guy in a dark room, with only the blue flickering tube as company as he, well, you know...Sex is still a taboo to many--something we know that happens (otherwise, how else would most of us be here--no Virginia, there is no stork), most of us enjoy, but don't want to think of something our parents as active participants.
With food-- and the food cops out there watching everything that we put into our coffee cups and lunch trays--it seems to easy for some people to feel guilty about. The number of times I've heard "Oh, I could never eat that, I'd be so bad if I did" whenever I brought home baking into the office makes me want to reply "if you think this will make you bad, you really live a sheltered life, don't you?"...but I don't...I smile in my Nigella-like way, lower my vocal register and say "one little taste won't hurt." --and you know what? It never does.
tags: Alton Brown Christine Cushing Giada diLorentiis Tyler Florence Food Network food porn gastroporn Gordon Ramsay Nigella Lawson NPR Rachel Ray