Everyone seems to be a foodie these days. My Facebook and Instagram feeds are assaulted by images of just about everything that goes into my contacts’ mouths, bearing #foodie like self-given gold stars that come as common as Halloween candy.
The images leave a bland taste in my mouth. Not because the food captured is necessarily bad, but there’s something terribly wrong with the voracious culture of documenting glossy magazine meals. They reek of vanity, and I can’t help but wonder whether the experience of sharing #foodporn is more appetizing to some than the food itself.
This is what Erica Bernardi of Ernest Ice Cream told me about social media when I spoke with her and Ben Ernst for a Vancouver Courier story last year:
“It’s kind of it’s own machine. The spread’s way farther than we have anticipated. We haven’t spend a dime on advertising.”
For Vancouver Instagrammers (#vanigers), there are food items that will pop up on your feed again and again. (Go on it right now, I dare you. All I see is ice cream.) Ernest Ice Cream is one of them with their mason jars. Now there’s Rain or Shine: I can’t count the times I’ve seen someone on Instagram hold their cone up to the ice cream cone wallpaper they have. Not only is it the same food, it’s the same darn shot. A beverage in one of 49th Parallel’s turquoise cups. Macarons from Thierry. Soft Peaks. And when Dine Out Vancouver returns, my feed is pretty much populated by every meal everyone I know is eating.
There are times when I am halted by someone at my table as my fork is in mid-air.
“Don’t eat it yet!” they scream. “I have to snap this first.”
The experience is intensely pleasurable for them. I just want to eat my meal. It’s worse when multiple parties whip out their phones and subject the food to radioactive levels of activity.
The best way I can describe how I feel is spoilers.
Thanks to social media, I know what my food looks like before it arrives. I pretty much know what it tastes like before I even try it.
But the culture of phones and food photography is probably here to stay. I’ll have to put up with my supperfellows nuking my meals with their phones.
So here’s my beef with it, and why I’m doing this blog.
I believe there’s two parts to eating something. There’s the food, and there’s the story. Sometimes it’s your story: why you’re there or how did you get there. Sometimes it’s the food’s story: where did it come from or who made it.
It's midnight and you're slurping noodles—who are the characters around you? Does tasting it mean home to the hands that made it? Was it born out of two cultures?
Taking pictures of food isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that sometimes it’s done cheaply. People like to use #foodporn. Well, it really is food porn. Arousing, as beautiful as something out of Kinfolk magazine—but ultimately, without love, without a story.
One Instagrammer done well is girleatworld. It’s a combination of food and travel. You see the food, but it’s Indonesian fish cake in front of a bustling market, strawberry tarts in front of the Seine, mountain-high soft serve in front of Malta shores. You get the food, but you also get the story.
(And that’s why I have these pictures here to give you a sense of eating in Japan and Taiwan. A real sense.)
This blog is my contribution to that. It’s my job to tell stories after all. And Vancouver’s a good place for it.
Heads up, I might be a snob, but I’m a snob that eats cheaply. I’m upset when a meal costs more than 10 dollars, tip included. After all, I’m at a cross-section of poor student and freelance journalist.
Soup noodles are my thing, I know most about East and Southeast Asian cuisine, but I won’t let that pigeonhole me.
So what will you be getting from me? You’ve already got dozens of food reviewers, so you don’t need that.
So I’ll be doing some food stories. What does that mean?
My first post will be a food item that is yet missing from Vancouver, and yes, that means a free business idea for you. It's something I've tried in Toronto, New York, and San Francisco that we will don't really have. You think we do, but we don't.