I’m sitting in an exquisite organic restaurant. My stomach is tactfully empty in preparation for a feast of 14 delicate courses. I sip my water impatiently, participating in distracted chit-chat with my beau as we await the arrival of our first plate.
My dining companion is deteriorating rapidly. Conversation dwindles as his hunger evolves. He develops a dangerously rapid eye twitch and whiplash-worthy neck jerk, erratically inspecting the kitchen for any sign of our food.
At last, the waitress emerges and serenely places down a glistening starter of sweet corn, spring onion and chilli fritters, macadamia sambal and aioli. My stomach wails like a wounded walrus. My fella has his fork poised and a predatory look in his eyes. As the plate softly touches the table, he lurches forward. “STAHP!”, I warn. “I need to Instagram it first.”
Dangerous, I know. Only a very foolish lady would stand between a ravenous man and his meal. But I can’t help it! I experience immense pleasure when capturing food with my iPhone before it passes my lips. If a good lookin’ plate passes my periphery, I will feel compelled to ask the soon-to-be-consumer to freeze and “Say cheese!” while I take a quick pic.
Yep, I have a confession. Hi, I’m Aimee and I’m a foodstagrammer and food porn addict.
Everyday food and drink consumption is now invaded by the possibility of Instagramming. It’s becoming the cultural norm. Often, people take a photo of what’s on their plate, apply an appetising filter and “share” the cuisine with their online world before enjoying the physical pleasure of actually eating the food. What a curious concept!
Why are some of us so titillated by this trend? I don’t know about you, but on a simplistic level, this process immediately makes me feel better about life. Someone yells at me. I buy myself a bright green smoothie. And Instagram it. My day is instantly better.
On a deeper level, I have realised that I enjoy immortalising my food. Snapping a dish and transforming it into megapixels means that long after the chow has been digested and gone to foodie heaven, I can re-live the colours, presentation and textures of the meal and the good times associated with it.
But, I am selective. I would never snap and share my soggy salad sandwich smooshed into oblivion against its cling wrap captor, or those moments when the pantry is bare and I’ve selected canned-anything-on-toast as the main course.
Unless I somehow whip up a Masterchef-worthy dish out of baked beans, wilted lettuce and off cheese, it’s not going public. Only cuisine which surpasses my culinary expectations, looks darn pretty or was consumed in honour of a special occasion will be slapped onto my newsfeed. My Instagram album holds an archive of my eating adventures. From decadent homemade brownies (don’t tell anyone they’re White Wings!), to exquisite salads and even poached eggs on toast at my local café – if it pleases me, I’ll capture it.
Flicking through each tantalising photo at a later date allows the option of revisiting my extensive history of culinary conquests. It’s like re-visiting your holiday albums. Except instead of craving adventure, sunshine and sexy island-folk, you just end up insatiably hungry. I would not recommend this on an empty stomach!
Of course, I never compromise the integrity of the food or make people wait for hours. I snap it, subtitle it, tag it, post it and start eating it within 30 seconds of the meal arriving. Mostly, I do this out of respect for my dining companions. I wouldn’t want them to get hangry. Hangry (that is, being angry because you’re hungry) is the worst kind of angry. It’s best to develop super fast Instagramming skills, or avoid taking photos altogether if in the presence of a hangry individual…if you like your forehead sans fork, that is.
At a stretch, this curious habit is also a sort of secular pre-consumption version of saying grace. I believe my food holds immense value and is worthy of thanks. Taking a photo is a ritual that allows me to reflect on my meal prior to eating it, and express my heartfelt (albeit very public) gratitude for it. Hallelujah!
On the flip side, I also know a few foodstagrammer-haters. Why the hate? Let me enlighten you. Really, no one ACTUALLY cares about anyone’s pretentious food-related escapades. It can come off as snobby.
So, you’ve bought an apple and made it your duty to take multiple artistically filtered angles of it being sliced, displayed on a weathered wooden chopping board and consumed? How very #simplistic, #creative, #earthy and #rustic. What a true artist and apple connoisseur you must be!
But really, the cranky foodstagrammer critics out there are onto you. They know that the apple was bought from Coles and was found rolling around in your fridge and that the happy snapping culprit was really procrastinating doing their tax and washing the hamsters.
They also know that the so-called incredible raw, organic, sugar free, gluten free, dairy free cake you just posted tasted like sloppy chalk (guilty!). Oh, and they’re fully aware that last week’s Farmers Markets were actually boring, overpriced, smelled like cow manure and it rained the whole time.
At least you fooled those adoring Instagram followers as evident by the sycophantic “Wow! That looks amazing, so jealous” comments and 23 Likes. By the way, that’s how you know you’ve made it in life; it officially makes you the greatest person alive.
Yes, this obsession is strange. Whatever happened to people bemoaning their lives through cryptic song lyrics on their statuses? When did the whingeing about having just one can of iffy-looking beetroot for breakfast stop? Now, it’s all about artful Instagrams of food which covertly imply, “Nerninerninerner….check out what I’m about to eat. I’m so clever. No you can’t have any. It’s all mine. Plus, I’m superior to you in every way”.
Some people love it; some people love to hate it. The invariable cyber food fight is unlikely to halt in the near future. In the meantime, fellow foodstagramming addicts, keep in mind: you are what you Tweet! Instagram is a powerful thing – use it wisely.