Blogging trips are suddenly hot. Food flows. Bloggers gather at the trough. They photograph. They take notes. Sometimes they use the pen and paper. More often these days their loose-jointed thumbs fly in terse little wavelets over the glowing outline of virtual keyboards on tiny devices. Clark Kent could not survive journalism in the zeros; Kryptonite can do nothing to make thumbs skim the glass quickly.
Never before in history has food been attacked so analytically. This is what I am trying to say.
And we photograph too much. Italian food is not often pretty. Italians are not ashamed of showing the muscular calf of a lamb sitting in a pool of wine-laced pan juices made shiny with—let’s face it—fat. Americans find this sort of thing nauseating. Really, people have commented on some of my pictures thusly.
Bloggers are really good at finding an angle for the many things they won’t eat, “oh, the sauce on the trippa smelled heavenly, but I didn’t actually have to taste the tripe, you know, because I like the taste, really, it’s the texture, you know, the texture is what churns my stomach.”
And yet we protest the lack of “real” food in our diet. Sure, we desire real food, but do not desire it to look like what it is. It is ok to whittle that lamb shank into indistinguishable parts and paste it together with a clingy sauce that has absorbed the fat and then stack the whole assemblage on a “bed” of something like a timbale of rice so that it can be difficult to eat but oh so recognizable as art and not as body bits of a lamb shank shiny with fat.
It seems to me that our virtual visual philosophy is inconsistent with our inner desire to eat well. We fail the test of meeting our food eye to eye, losing the chance to thank the animal or head of cabbage for giving up its life for us. We risk forever being tied to corporations and specialists trained to mask our food, trained to slip undesired compounds into it. (Not to mention specialists trained to make lambs that don’t have to be born and thus be unworthy of our thanks as opposed to, you know, real animals.)
But anyway, thanks for letting us write about it. Really. We promise not to tell you how we wretch and gag over foods like tripe, unless it’s tucked discretely inside the plastic-like tubes of our Memorial Day, six for a dollar hot dogs. God Bless America. We know how to hide the things we teach ourselves not to stomach.