Thursday, February 29, 2024
February 29, 2024

Nobody Asked Me But: Staying chaste in a sea of kitchen porn

It’s a dirty rotten shame the things we allow into our homes by way of the internet. There is garbage and filth everywhere and it’s getting harder and harder to keep it from infiltrating through to our smart phones, tablets, and home computers. Generally, we refer to it as porn and more often than not it comes through as sexual content that is so twisted and perverted that it forces even the most hardened of us to cringe in response.

There is another kind of porn out there that has recently been closing the gap on the more traditional salacious, pornographic variety. Though it may seem harmless and benign at first blush, kitchen porn is quickly worming an insidious trail onto our screens and collective consciousness.

By kitchen porn, I am referring to the variety of forms that recipes, procedures, techniques, demonstrations and step-by-step instructions are relayed to you in your kitchen in order for you to transform a handful of unrelated ingredients into delicious, exotic dishes and meals.

Don’t get me wrong, now. Recipe books have been around probably since humans first lit fires in caves. Quite likely, there’s a good chance you will find petroglyph instructions scrawled on the cavern walls somewhere in northeast Africa that depict how to prepare juicy pterodactyl wings without overcooking them.

Even in my own lifetime, I have availed myself of recipe books authored by the likes of Julia Child (Mastering the Art of French Cooking) and Charles Gerras (Rodale’s Basic Natural Foods Cookbook). My copy of Irma Rombauer’s Joy of Cooking, its binding long ago disintegrated and now held together by rubber bands, stands semi-erect between other reference books on the shelf.

There is a big difference, however, between the cookbooks of yesteryear that know their place and can gather dust for decades on end with nary a squeak of complaint, and the television/internet cooking shows and sites that hound you incessantly as they vie for your attention. Although the aim of this kind of kitchen porn is seemingly to help you concoct meals that look mouth-wateringly delicious and simple to prepare, its main purpose is to make you feel like a total failure and loser when your Pollo allo cacciatora con olive comes out looking and tasting like mac/cheese.   

When I was a young man, you had to be a rock star to be a rock star. You could forget about fame and fortune and all the accompanying perks if your name wasn’t Elvis or Mick. Not so today. Cable television and social networks have taken what were once ordinary prep cooks with a flair for flamboyance and turned them into mega-celebrities able to trip the light fantastic into the realm of the rich and famous. In the world of high stakes “chef-ness” you can go from barely out of the dish pit to having millions of television and internet followers if you juggle your cleaver, wok and spatula as well as the likes of Anthony Bourdain, Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay have done. Even Martha Stewart, who had to pause her celebrated career by taking a timeout in the slammer, has regained her enormous popularity to the point where her cornbread recipe is more sought after than manna from heaven.

The late Canadian prime minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, when commenting on possible legislation restricting sexual practices between consenting adults, declared that the state had no place in the bedrooms of the nation. The same, it seems, can be said about our kitchens. If watching a video of Slow Cooked Barbacoa Short Rib Tacos on cafedelites.com turns you on, so be it. On the other hand, if the preparation of Maple Pecan Tassies on thekitchn.com tickles your fancy, why not submit to this overwhelming sensory craving from your taste buds? 

There are thousands of similar websites out there that promise the infinite pleasures of their forbidden fruit. Three of the most popular are epicurious.com, allrecipes.com and foodnetwork.com, and you are only a click away from indulging in their delightful abundance. And analogous to how the Kama Sutra depicts positions and how Masters & Johnson describe sexual activity, the kitchen porn sites allow and encourage you to sample and experiment with all five major food groups, provided you do it in the privacy of your own kitchen.

To play in the world of kitchen porn, you must first have the proper equipment. Just like sex toys have evolved from the primitive, battery-operated tools of a half century ago, so have kitchen devices changed with the times. No longer will a frypan, microwave oven and a sharp knife cut it in today’s modern scullery. Even rudimentary appliances such as slow cookers and double boilers are scoffed at and provoke derision in a galley equipped with cutting-edge paraphernalia like instant pots and air fryers.

Perhaps kitchen porn could become even more invasive and successful if its purveyors put more stress on the porn part of the moniker. Imagine the fun you could have with kitchen implements and apparel such as Blow Up Dollops, Skilletto Heels, meat tenderizers, fruit leather aprons, lemon squeezers and, last but not least, pantry hose.

Nobody asked me, but it is apparent that, like it or not, kitchen porn has become an unavoidable part of living in this technological age. Even if you try every known filter and block available, you will still be inundated by dozens of succulent and delectable images of cuisine fare that you will find impossible to ignore. So get with the program. Pull out those measuring spoons and cups, mixing bowls, whisks and spatulas while you log in to your favourite food porn site.

As for me, I’m sticking with Joy of Cooking and a good old bowl of mac and cheese.

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