An investigatory report.
There was a time, before television, when food was looked at with a degree of restraint and respect. A simpler time; when the mere suggestion of a meal titillated a man’s appetite. A time when seeing just the top of the chicken breast was saved for the kitchen inside a private home with the shades drawn.
Times have certainly changed and as the world loosens their belts to make room for the ever-expanding gut, they have also loosened the once beautiful and conservative ideals that kept us safe from food perversion.
In Canada, a country that at one time held a $10 000 fine for having a picture of cheesecake in your possession, you can now take any child to any 24 hour diner and have them subjected to full colour pictures of dripping, syrupy waffles. Not hidden behind the toilet in the men’s room, mind you, but front and centre on the menu for all to see.
But beneath the surface, through the layers and layers of flab, there is an even darker side to the world of epicuriosity.
As with everything lurid, it started by word of mouth; recipes whispered in dark places.
Then the printed word spread and so too did cookbooks. It wasn’t enough to have food for sale 24 hours a day, in neighbourhoods, near churches, sometimes for sale on the street, the fiends needed more.
When the magazines arrived with their glossy pictures and superfluous articles, people tried to speak up, tried to warn of the dangers of flavour proclivity. They were ignored as a world became engorged in an age of wanton cravings and Won-Ton cravings.
Then the television shows began. At first, they were low-budget with mostly amateur performers in dingy locations. But as the world grew wind of the new media, it spread like wildfire. Soon thousands of shows popped up and it was not long before entire networks were dedicated to broadcasting uncensored, full frontal food, 24 hours a day.
But even that was not enough.
Soon people became bored with the somewhat clinical presentation of food being prepared by classically attractive and conventional hosts. The more they saw, the more specific their requests became. Asian shows, Italian shows, Latin shows, blonde hosts, brunette hosts, red-heads, two women hosting a show and two men competing in a Japanese stadium. The baking fetish found an especially strong foothold in the market with young, single women and gay men, a previously elusive demographic.
In this age it became socially acceptable to discuss food in public, even brag about meals you had cooked or eaten in the past.
With that societal freedom a ‘laissez faire’ attitude towards the act of eating has developed that is being instilled in the children of today. A normal 12-year-old now is exposed to 100 million images of food per day as compared to the year 1890 when the average was 3 images a day, if you were lucky. Food related disease is effecting more and more young people as juvenile Diabetes rates are skyrocketing and more and more children under 13 are looking gross despite the so-called ‘nutritional education’ they receive in school.
For the jaded adults, it is a hell on earth. For some, having experienced cuisine in every imaginable formation and flavour through a lifetime of eating, mealtime has become a loveless, unfeeling act. Some need to watch extreme, hardcore food shows like ‘Diners Dive-Thrus and Dives” and “Man vs Food” just to engorge their appetites. They are doomed to a life of endless binge-ing and self loathing, ever searching for that first pie.