We hear the newest form of celebrity, the ubiquitous celebrity chefs that have multiplied like rabbits, describe food in ways that can only be compared to romance and sexual novels of the kind that have also received enormous attention, such as “Shades of Grey”.
As if intimacy is something new, viewers and consumers of media have taken to this post-baby boomer creation like flies to fly-paper, minting brand new millionaire chefs who know little more than how to sauté some vegetables. Yet these same line-cooks turned connoisseurs are now looked to as if they are missionaries or worse, messiahs of food, describing their foods and preparation as if to be a commentator on a high budget porno film. These revelations are often humorous as they seem to believe what they are saying, such as with Ron Ben-Israel’s show “Sweet Genius”, where a clearly talented cake and dessert maker in Mr. Ben-Israel, directs his guest chef contestants to make brilliant desserts using often bizarre and off-putting ingredients.
Words such as sensual, delirious, moist and others are used to drive the point home. Bringing some of that sensuality back to the baby-boomer generation who can no longer generate their own personal intimacy. That isn’t to say that food and it’s various derivations cannot be sexy. It can, but like anything that is overplayed and overdone (including food), the effort to equate food with sex in these new celebrity shows is comical at best and insulting at worst.
Why has food seemed to supplant our sex-lives in the last ten years with the proliferation of celebrity food based magazines (while old-line clearly more staid and sophisticated brands like Gourmet magazine fold)? Can we simply blame the baby-boomers who have been the lead generation for the creation of the last 40 years of trends? Alternatively, has the obvious place of food in our lives finally taken it’s rightful place in generating the sexual innuendo, motivation and other aspects of sensuality that our busy lives demand?
As with any complex question, the answer isn’t so simple. The history of food suggests that it has always played a role in generating some level of intimacy or sexual tension. As part of our daily life, it is easy to build into a date, a sensual evening or other effort to woo or court a mate. For centuries, feeding grapes to a partner, licking sweets off of a spouse or some other form of food / sex combination has been an accepted and often practiced (if not well practiced) effort to stimulate ones sexual appetite.
By being able to combine the language of food and sex, celebrity chefs, their producers and promoters are clearly using the age old effort to sell product by using sex. Since we all eat and enjoy fine establishments, natural ingredients and use our powerful combined senses of taste, smell and vision, we can identify what makes certain preparations right for our own purposes. It is often an intense relationship that we have with certain foods and yet, we are so easy t dismiss so many others because of the bland, fatty and tasteless proliferation of mass prepared foods. No wonder we get excited when we see unique preparations, using rare, or unusual ingredients and then see the utter food orgasms offered up by celebrities and others when enjoying some form of food that we haven’t been able to partake in.