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The only thing I can come up with after a spectacular meal is – Oh shit, I should have clicked a pic!
Till a decade back I don’t think the term ‘foodie’ even existed! Or maybe it did but we were too busy burping our approval for a dish well cooked and preferred licking our fingers clean rather than reaching out for the camera to click the chicken corn soup with enough cornflour to bind the world. If you loved your food, you didn’t have to shout from rooftops and you definitely didn’t have to click your meal from different angles to get the perfect lighting and shot. If you did, you’d risk getting laughed at by strangers.
We didn’t mind having chicken curry cooked the same way meal after meal. Experimenting was something that was confined to Chemistry labs. Eating out was a monthly, low-key affair and ambience was still a word in the dictionary. Having fun was something we did in moderation. If we were watching a movie, there’s no way we could follow it up with dinner at a restaurant because according to your Maa, too much fun was akin to corruption. Our parents never failed to make us feel guilty by regaling us with their frugal living stories. A childhood denied of luxuries, where they had to wait for birthdays and Durga Pujo to get their two sets of clothes and eating out was an alien concept.
Modern living is out to prove that our parents were wrong and boring. It has seen a quantum shift towards a lifestyle which is all about excess. One look at Facebook and Twitter feeds and you’re inundated with images and vivid descriptions of exotic vacations, fun-filled evenings and gourmet meals your friends are having, while you stab miserably at your bowl of chopped papaya.
The new age foodie is now a gastronome, chef extraordinaire, food critic, photographer rolled into one. His taste buds have a high emotional quotient that can feel the butter-laden, cognac-kissed suavity in the pumpkin soup and sheds tears of ecstasy as he bites into a juicy, succulent, bursting with flavours tangdi kabab.
The problem is everyone and their aunt has started fancying themselves as the next Nigella Lawson. Just like every second person claiming to be an avid photographer, even if the only photos he clicks is that of his wife and children. Every dish being churned out is presented as the next masterpiece, so what if the cake looks like a gooey unpalatable mess with gems stuck all over it and the grilled chicken resembles burnt arbi!
Not every morsel that goes into your mouth is meant to be heavenly even if you’d like your 685 friends on Facebook to think so. Not every cup of coffee you are having with biscotti has to be clicked and shared with your followers on Instagram.
The desire to impress others with our culinary adventures is spreading like a contagious disease. Wives are cooking six course meals for their dear husbands. Dear husbands are surprising their lovely wives with herbed fish on couscous salad. We now have grimy karhais with ghastly orange butter chicken, out-of-focus bhel with green chanas, methi parantha pizza vying for our attention, aesthetics be damned! It’s as if we are eradicating world hunger by sharing our breakfast, lunch, dinner and in between snacks photos.
On the other end of the spectrum is a section of fitness worshipping gentry that loves regaling its audience with their treadmill and pushup sagas and their super healthy diet of wheatgerm aloe juice spiked with karela. Usually a self-righteous breed, they swear by their current diet and seek miracles from goji and acai berries and are never short of advice to transform your life.
It’s as if people are either eating too much or too little or too right and have abandoned the middle ground. I have started feeling terribly
I blame the motivational quotes exhorting us to live life to the fullest and savour every moment, for this recent trend of hedonism. Rather than fill us with joie-de-vivre, they fill us with an overwhelming sense of guilt about our mundane lives. Rather than wait for that trip to Piranha infested Amazon river, we seek adventure in our kitchen and stuff idli with cheese, marry dhokla with bacon and tingle our tastebuds with coffee infused kulfi. We may not close our eyes in ecstasy as the spices give up their soul when they dive into the hot oil or when the chicken skins turn the shade of an autumnal sunset in the oven but we make sure that we garnish our experience with liberal doses of exaggeration as we pen it to share it with the world. So, a peeled, seeded tomato becomes a concasse, the cake, a homespun masterpiece and food becomes porn, the sight of which makes you want to scream – yes…Yes…YES.
I’m not suggesting that there’s anything wrong in sharing experiences that make us happy. And visuals will always integral part of it. What we eat is as much a source of nourishment as it is of pleasure as well as an outlet for creativity. I only wish we’d exercise more discretion in what we share and how frequently we post updates.
Remember, the more you share, the more people jeer, like this particular badass lady who has made you her subject.