Tuesday, August 30, 2005

BOOKS: Food Porn



If you got here after typing "food" and "porn" and "fetish" in Google, you're about to be very disappointed. Best go here instead. Okay? Okay.

I love cooking.

Now, by that I don't mean I like going to the store to buy ingredients, and then at some indeterminate future date remembering to them out of the cupboard, then torturing them with utensils until they yield -- through the magic of food alchemy -- something delicious to eat. And then, god forbid, having to wash the dishes afterward.

No, I love the
idea of cooking. I like to watch other people cook... preferably food that will end up in my belly. But if that's not a possibility, I like cooking shows. I like beautiful, glossy, lavishly photographed food magazines and cookbooks. I like the relatively new sub-set of non-cookery books for foodies, which has been labelled food literature but let's be honest: a better term would be food porn.

In other words, picture a person perched on the edge of her chair watching
Martha Stewart (oh, Martha, you filthy little kitchen minx, you) uninhibitedly throw whole cream and pounds of fresh creamery butter into her food processor. Then picture that person eating a bowl of cold cereal at the same time that she's watching this orgiastic culinary free-for-all. That's me.

Like all fetishists, I have a small trove of books I like to read under the covers when I'm in the mood:
The latest addition to this collection was sent to me for my birthday by Wing Chun, who, in addition to being witty, brave and having the strength of ten Grinches plus two, always knows exactly what to give.



Hey There, Cupcake!
is so my kind of book, it's not even funny. I'm familiar with
Clare Crespo's earlier book, The Secret Life of Food, which features beautifully photographed (by the uber-talented Eric Staudenmaier) recipes for freaky fare like the spaghetti and eyeballs shown at the top of this entry (I tried so hard to find a photograph of the mutant chicken, because I desperately wanted to show it to you, but no luck; you'll have to get your hands on the book), so her recipes for tasty little oddities such as crop-circle cupcakes (above) and sushi cupcakes (below) came as a surprise, for sure, but not a shock.



Crespo is a fabulous domestic-arts weirdo, of
Amy Sedaris's ilk, as this interview attests. Every new thing I learn about her (such as the fact that she's part of a diorama club) confirms my girl-crush on her. I'm a vegetarian, but for Clare I'd eat mutant chicken.

What's your favourite foodie porn? Let's get nasty in the comments section.

16 comments:

Melissa said...

CUPCAKES! YUM!

Rebecca said...

When I read Joanne Harris's Chocolat, I craved truffles and dark chocolate for weeks afterwards. The movie didn't quite do it justice, but there were a few scenes which underscored what the power of chocolate can do to us.

Meredith said...

Candy Freak by Steve Almond. Just thinking about it makes me want to run out and buy chocolate.

Ilsa said...

The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must Have Been Something I Ate by Jeffrey Steingarten. He is hilarious and brilliant.

On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. Uber-geeky food science, mmmm good.

Jagosaurus said...

Intercourses has some pretty righteous information, photographs, and recipes. I know this is a more literal translation of the food porn concept than you were striving for, but really, the book is quite lovely.

Anonymous said...

I know I am hardly in the minority, but Alton Brown is my foodie porn star bar none. I mean, come on, FOOD and SCIENCE?! Yeah, Baby, yeah. His cookbook is fab. I love it. Jamie Oliver, The Naked Chef, as well, he makes it all seem so easy (SEEM being the operative word.)and the photos in his books are great... he isn't all that hard on the eyes either. ;-)
Beth

Nomie said...

"Square Meals," by Jane and Alan (I think) Stern. I have read this book hundreds of times; our cover is falling off because of it. And there are some really good recipes in there, along with a loving history of American food in all its weirdness and glory. The devil's food cake recipe is my personal highlight, tied with the instructions for a plethora of milkshakes.

Doppelganger said...

Has anyone read anything by Anthony Bourdain? I've been meaning to check him out.

This reminds that there's a fabulous bookstore here in Vancouver, called Books to Cooks, that sells nothing but cookbooks. I haven't been there in aaaaages. Clearly, I need to schedule a visit.

Exxie said...

Oh, I've read me some Tony Bourdain. Both Kitchen Confidential and A Cook's Tour are good reads, the former focusing on how he got into the food business and the latter on his world-wide search for the perfect meal. I'm not sure which I like better - they're so different that I can't recommend one over the other. I will say that if you have a chance to see his show, A Cook's Tour, which was filmed during his research for the book, your reading will be enhanced because you'll be able to imagine his lovely voice reading the words aloud. I hear he has another show coming out...on Discovery, I think.

I've been curious about his fiction books. Has anyone read them? I'm not the biggest fan of the mystery genre, so I haven't picked them up, but the fact that Bourdain wrote them intrigues me.

Ysha said...

One of my favorites to go back and reread would be "Consuming Passions: A Food Obsessed Life" by Michael Lee West. It's a memoir about growing up southern and all of the food involved.

That book starved me from start to finish. I'd announce that I was craving and must have fried chicken, only to make it to another chapter. Then the chicken craving would be forgotten and another would replace it. It drove my SO completely batty trying to make dinner plans.

The MOM said...

Liquor by Poppy Z. Brite. MMMmmmm....

Anonymous said...

I love Nigella with the passion of a thousand fiery suns... I can sit and read her cookbooks cover to cover. I kind of wish I was her.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever read anything by
Calvin Trillin? He's a political columnist, but he wrote three books about food and travel in teh 70's and 80's that I love dearly. They make me SO HUNGRY for Chinese food. Sigh.

Doppelganger said...

Oh my god. After reading all these posts, I'm STARVING. And I just ate!

You know what's cool? Since writing my original entry, I've developed a (probably temporary) heightened awareness of what I eat. As a result, we've gone out for some nice dinners (fabulous mussels in a Thai curry sauce one night, and real Mexican food -- dobladitas with homemade salsa verde -- another night... YUM!).

And I've baked! Twice! Cuz while I may not care for cooking, I love baking and fancy myself rather good at it. I made chewy ginger cookies (warmed and served with lemon gelato) on Tuesday, and I whipped up some cornbread to eat with a warm chick-pea salad last night.

Mmmm... yes, I'm definitely hungry again.

Anonymous said...

Like water for chocolate, Laura Esquivel. Wonderful story and delicious meals described :)

Devil's Food Cake Recipe said...

My sister's favorite was the Devil's food cake recipe that she got from one of her friends. She always talks about it whenever we meet! I’m definitely making this! thanks for sharing!

- Ihjaz Ahmad