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Food Porn

love watching food programs. Everything from Hell’s Kitchen to Yan Can Cook, if I have spare time (and even if I don’t), I’ll be watching. For those of you with a social life, you might be unfamiliar with some of the finer aspects of modern food television. It cuts across every genre and every demographic. Gone are the days of mere instructional cooking shows or food documentaries – now, you have epic odysseys spanning several continents to find the best french fry, or some surreal dystopian competition where contestants use molecular science to cook to the death for our entertainment.

As food television becomes progressively stranger, I’ve noticed something interesting: cooking programs are pornography. I’m not exaggerating. I’m not saying, “Oh man, the Food Network is like porn,” in a joking way; I’m saying “The Food Network is porn,” in a dead serious way. Sure, one features naked people and the other features food, but at their core, they are the same.

If you are a food fanatic, think about what a turn-on food is. There is something intrinsically attractive about cooking (ladies, I boil a mean kettle for instant ramen). Watch Gordon Ramsay cut a salmon and try not to wet yourself with lust. After all, what’s sexier than a kitchen? The stainless steel knife, so sharp and cold to the touch; the fresh, plump vegetables, ripe with sweet juices; the broad refrigerator, all stout and bulky-like.

It doesn’t help that everyone on TV is ridiculously hot. You’re not going to see any rotund chefs rolling around the kitchen floor—no, everyone is porn-star levels of attractiveness. Guy Fieri already looks like a steriods-infused porn star. Gordon Ramsay is the BDSM dungeon master, hurling insults as he emasculates you with his longer knife. Jamie Oliver is the girl-next-door, the sweet and shy partner who wines and dines before making love on a silken bed to scented candles at midnight. Nigella Lawson is Nigella fuckin’ Lawson. Just like pornstars, these celebri-chefs are exhibitionists, wantonly sharing their sexy heathen skills for everyone to see.

With such a sexy subject and a sexy cast, it’s a small step to a sexy program.  You might be skeptical, but their purpose, method and effect are all the same as that of dirty, dirty smut. Food programs/porn is there for you to get off. They do so by creating a fantasy world which you are allowed access to, with the titillating promise that you too can participate later. Unconvinced?

Here’s every cooking show ever. The show opens with a montage of the foods being featured in the episode, so you know if your favorite pornstar food is starring. The sexy host begins to narrate, as soft porno-music plays in the background. He describes the grub, and it is mouth-watering. The camera takes longing shots of the virile cuisine from every angle. That sexy cucumber salad is just beckoning you towards its phallic arms. Mm, yeah, look at how tender and charred that roast beef main course is. See the strawberry sauce ejaculate in slow-motion onto the virginal vanilla ice-cream. This is the foreplay, the tantalizing hint of what you’re about to experience.

Then, the fucking begins. Watch the attractive chef start cooking with a passion and prowess you can only dream of. Watch him tenderly turn on the oven, getting it all hot and bothered, a promise of what is to start. Watch his deft fingers spread that meat, butterflying the breasts so it cooks evenly. Mm, go slow. The host will, of course, offer charming anecdotes and show off his personality; no-one wants to fuck a brick. But just like porn, it’s superficial. Giada de Laurentiis doesn’t know who you are.  Nigella Lawson doesn’t know that you had a straight-up loaf of plain bread for lunch. They feign interest and encouragement, saying, “This is easy!” and “You can do it too!” Of course, the context here is sexualized. The producers use a light romantic tint, the chef will add an emphatic oomph to sexy words (plump, juicy, fresh, barely legal etc.), there are close-up shots of the host’s lips and fingers and so on.

This is the longest segment. Here, you watch people better-looking and just better in general do things you wish you could. Of course, you could get off your ass and try to cook, but it won’t even be close to what you’re watching. The show acts as a fantasy and an escape, a wonderful world where the pantry is always stocked and you can add olive oil and creme fraiche to everything.

The show ends, of course, with the consumption of the food. This is the best part. The host takes a bite, and then says something like, “Wow” or “Mmmm”. With his mouth full, he’ll tell you how good it feels, how easy it is, how you can do it too. And then suddenly you’re by yourself again, staring at your flickering reflection as the credit rolls. Like porn, when the food show ends, you’re ashamed, alone, and covered in semen.

Slowly and surely, the conventions and methods of porn have become commonplace on food channels. Gluttony has replaced lust. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this. If anything, shouldn’t these sexy shows encourage us to cook more? Nope. Food programs are becoming procrastination tools. They provide short and easy methods of release. Why slave away cooking something when you could just watch someone else do it, much quicker and better than you could anyways?

And that’s the biggest problem. Cooking shows have stopped being motivational, and are merely entertainment. There’s no educational value anymore. By making the show the reward, you rob the viewer of the desire to cook for themselves.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop. As I’m writing this, I’m watching Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course. I have a very hungry boner.

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