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Why I Succumbed To The Seductive Power Of Food Porn

It is nearly impossible to talk of Paris without addressing food. There’s an entire language dedicated to the discussion of cheese. Arguments can break out over the best bread to serve with fois gras, and how fresh the fois gras should be. Strong opinions are held about which house produces the best macaroon, best fraisier, best ganache.

And everything is served…just so.

Taking pictures of this gastronomic nirvana, therefore, is as natural a reaction as choosing to caffeinate in the morning and as predictable as reaching for a cigarette after a particularly satisfying moment of passion in cinematic tradition.

Months ago, however, a friend of mine commented in her social feed that she was tired of seeing pictures of beautifully plated food because it made her feel angry and bad about herself — like she should feel less than because she was happy with her pb&j or ate her soup out of the pan (I’m paraphrasing, here).

Is this a relatable argument?

When I lived in LA, I used to roll my eyes at all the Instagram shots of dribbled sauces and mountains of foamed vegetables. I’m not a foodie. I rarely cook and, when I do, I’m far more likely to create a toxic cloud of burnt metal than anything edible (this is not an exaggeration).

I like to eat. I like to eat things that are recognizable. I like to eat things that taste good. And I never associated any of these sentiments with the motivations behind the social media phenomenon so crudely labelled “food porn.”

But, since living in Paris, the proportion of food-based images I capture on my iPhone has rapidly grown. In fact, the day my friend vented her feelings, I had just finished publishing a voluptuous image of pastries, for no greater reason than…I could.

The sirens had forced me to crash into the world of food porn without me even being aware of it!

How was that even possible?

Beauty in details.

Like any person who has forgotten their train of thought when whisper-kissed on the neck in that one special spot, or gotten a crick in their neck for double-taking when a stunningly formed human specimen (or really cute puppy) walks by, I was caught by the beauty of carefully and lovingly crafted edibles that blankets France.

I don’t take pictures of food to make people feel bad, or to make people hungry, or to make people wish they were living my life.

I take pictures of food because I want to share the beauty of someone’s work.

I take pictures of food because I want to freeze a moment of gratitude.

I take pictures of food because tapping the photo button on my iPhone is far less painful than pinching myself.

Putting motivations into question is a good thing!

After all, how often do we stop and ask ourselves WHY we do the things we do, particularly those things that are also being done by everyone around us?

How many of our actions are intentional? And, if they are habitual actions, are our initial intentions still the basis for our continued behavior?

Now, when I take a photo of a beautiful edible, I pause an extra half-second to ask myself the purpose behind the impulse.

Sometimes, the moment passes and all that remains of the experience is a full stomach, an empty plate and memories of laughter and discourse.

And then there are the times when I embrace my inner Roxanne.

in purpose & play,

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