Why do so many people post pictures of food on the Internet? What could be more mundane? I know someone who posts whatever shoes she happens to be wearing, but with her, it’s like Picasso posting napkin sketches. She has a gift. But food? Breakfast? Your turkey sandwich for lunch?
Sure, I know all about food’s connection with festivity, with anticipation, with comfort. But after the 12th mess o’ crawfish, it gets…well, predictable.
There may be another reason. What daily activity, what necessary habit, are we less certain about in this tilted age…than eating? We stand before a massive buffet of steaming theories about how to do it, about what to do it with, and then there’s the great cauldron of how much. At one end of the table, tiers of choices pile up, tasty and spicy dishes of every nationality and ethnicity, borne to us in the hearts and minds of a world population that is more mobile — and connected — than ever before. And beyond, where the dessert table should be, lay plates upon plates of shouldn’ts, don’ts, and maybe causes cancer.
Truth is, despite decades of food science and scholarship in everything from nutrition to farming to storage to transport, a great many people do not know how to eat for health and pleasure. They can’t find the balance between good nutritional habits and the occasional treat. Worse, there may be some people whose means allow them to eat only inexpensive, processed foods that aren’t as good for them as fresh food would be. With new theories emerging by the month, sometimes contradicting each other, we eaters often throw up our forks and walk away from any intention to become positively engaged with our eating.
So the pictures — they’re almost a cry for help in the guise of a pleasantry. How am I doing? Does this look good? Would you eat it? Aren’t I lucky? Am I doing it right?
The bigness of the job, and the fear that big changes may be necessary, surely overwhelm some people. Perhaps the more we communicate about the benefits of slow, small changes, the more we might calm down about it. Maybe more of us could…yes, feel good about eating.
And then…if we want to post a recipe…well, why not?♦
© 2013 Adam Barr