The Joys of Food Porn

The Joys of Food Porn

The Joys of Food Porn

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
March 2 2010 11:27 AM

The Joys of Food Porn

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I think I’m probably on Amanda’s side on the whole preachy-foodie question. I’ve been out sick for a couple of days and after a few days of doing nothing, I found an old Jamie Oliver cookbook on Sunday. Then I started to cook: Mushrooms. Then eggplant. Then fennel. Now Jamie isn’t nearly as preachy as Alice (I also adore Alice). But he’s pretty damn righteous about shunning button mushrooms and grinding your own wee spices and buying fish with their eyes all googling around. My husband took one look at the photo of Oliver on the cookbook cover and got so freaked out he had to turn the book facedown.

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But I didn’t feel hectored or judged or browbeaten. I felt like I was accomplishing something that was healthy and smelled good. Certainly, my cooking binge this weekend wasn’t about maximizing my time and efficiency . (I was so bored I was ready to set my hair on fire.) But I think one explanation for the popularity of food porn-the reason it lingers up at the top of the Times' most e-mailed list-is that it’s aspirational and yet occasionally manageable at the same time. Nobody cooks like this every night. But if you like to cook, cooking healthy food carefully is like going to a zucchini spa. All that said, I can’t wait to see what Oliver does with his upcoming TV show-in which he allegedly hectors all of Huntington, W. Va , into eating well. If he is as bossy and righteous as I fear, I may join Margaret and Meredith in pitching a sweet potato right through the TV screen.

Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate and hosts the podcast Amicus.