Monday, February 23, 2015

The Obsessive Foodie


Image Courtesy  - Google

All these years I used to fancy myself as a foodie. Not anymore. It appears that rubbing your belly in satisfaction after an enjoyable and describing it simply as good only qualifies you as lazy. You are not a true blue foodie till the mellifluous notes of hand ground spices in the bhutta korma makes you want to run down the hills singing – the hills are alive with the aroma of cumin! Experience heartbreak when the much hyped restaurant churns out mediocre fare and write scathing reviews to warn your foodie brethren. Happily brave traffic rush, smelly markets to scout for exotic ingredients, and always have a camera along with your cutlery.

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.




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44 comments:

  1. This is an absolutely lovely post ! And you are right nowadays people seem to snack and eat all the time and still complain. In my childhood I have not seen any adults complaining of hunger every half hour or making big plans to eat out. Snacks were reserved for tea time.

    Now coffee, snowfall, dog, feet fill facebook and instagram timelines only to be scrolled beyond oblivion (atleast I do that). One food pic once a while is fine, but too much of anything is poisonous, just like food.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's as if life is all about adding and subtracting calories!

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  2. The logic of sharing food pictures on Facebook or Whatsapp is beyond me. Perhaps, I don't really enjoy cooking and that's the reason.

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    Replies
    1. It's not as if I don't enjoy looking up and trying new recipes. It's just that there's too much of food everywhere, including TV.

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  3. Purba some people feel that sharing their daily delicacies or their pics makes others happy! I really wonder how they get time to do all that and who would benifit out of it in long run! Sharing a recipe may help;)

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    Replies
    1. This obsessive need to share every trivial detail of our lives has to stop somewhere!

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  4. sometimes I share pictures of food too...I don't really know why though..Maybe I think I just do it because I feel so happy looking at the food at that moment :D

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    Replies
    1. Even I share pics, Naba. But not of every meal I've ingested.

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  5. Behold the next invasion, first we had to see all the selfies, then foodies food pics, now selfies with food, and I am not even sure what the next onslaught will be on this front. ....

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    Replies
    1. I hope the selfie craze will die a quiet death soon.

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  6. Leave alone ones own experiment s in the kitchen ...the trend I see here is capturing the food served to you at restaurants and posting them ...in fact I read an article of a restaurant that was having a tough time accommodating customer s as people spent a lot of time clicking pictures of their food :)

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    Replies
    1. Even I read that article. And they had the gall to complain about food served cold!

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  7. I love food especially cooking it and eating it. Though I am not much of a photographer or poster, I do it for my food blog. And, I enjoy food posts shared by others as well. :)

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    1. Even I do but not when it reaches obsessive levels.

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  8. LOL, loved reading your hilarious post. I agree that most of what people post in FB looks dubious. It is like a James Bond lifestyle, where people are so busy having fun, they forget how to live....

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    Replies
    1. That's what social networking is all about - trying to impress each other.

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  9. Very enjoyable post Purba..How times change.I remember when I was young eating out was unheard of,but my mom used to make pinnies,puas etc at home and vendors used to come home with ravishing kulfis--yes i have a sweet tooth.However we did go out to the famous Hanuman mandir at CP to have chaat and bring home the succulent Badana prashad.

    All this obsession with food is quite a new phenomena propelled by the social media.At the other end we have an equally strong fetish about zero figures.

    I for one,do not believe that the whole gang on FB is waiting with bated breath to know what i ate today and what it looked like.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think anyone cares. But that doesn't stop the zealots from sharing.

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  10. I hate it becaue i cant cook that well :( but i love eating and if someone cooks then its more awesome.. as far as i can think I have always been obsessed by food .. in hostel fridaysand tuesday nights was horrible food I dont even know what they made so we would plan t oget food from outside .. it was as simple as buying a loaf of brea , samose and JAlebi and the Chutney you get with samose .. SO one piece of break Squuesh the samosa in it , put some chutney.. add a second piece of bread then add a jalebi and the third piece and EATTTTTTTTTTTTTtt

    the best one could eat our own desi sweet and sour :)

    I am not sure what to say about fb or whatapp pictures if they can make it then great i ask them WHEN ARE YOU INViting me and no one has replied so far ..

    Bikram's

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    Replies
    1. This is first time I'm reading about a jalebi sandwich!

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    2. THeRE you go mam.. I am a CHEF tooooooooo.. Try it

      three slices of bread- one samosa and one jalebi :) yummyliscious...


      and now that i re - read my comment OH GOD how atrocious are my spelling .. I am glad you understood it


      Bikram's

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    3. PS:- you conveniently ignored the last question i asked :)

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  11. I rarely share pictures of food on Facebook. If I do, then evidently that is a Bengali delicacy, which is made with much blood, sweat and tears. (e.g. Aloo-posto, poToler dorma,) So I don't mind sharing it. But, I really don't understand how people post photos on a daily basis...even from different angles. :-P

    Enjoyed the post very much Purba, as always.. :-)

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    1. I post pics when I've cooked something for the first time - like baking cookies at home. my first ever Haleem.

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  12. You know you read some posts and you feel like 'Yaar ye meine kyun nahi likha ya socha"
    This was it for me!
    Too good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I felt the same when I was reading your "blouse tailor post'.

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  13. I think we will soon spend ourselves, if we don't expend ourselves before that. And people will cheer us for that too, should we have enough sense of wicked humour to laugh at ourselves in public and maybe share it on FB and Instagram with a catchy caption.

    =)

    Blasphemous Aesthete

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    1. I believe Instagram is worst :/

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  14. Being a foodie is good. Indians are becoming more and more adventurous in their eating habits. At the same time our eating habits are also pushing us towards metabolic disorders.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe everything is good but only in moderation.

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  15. oooh, you're describing so many people I know on Facebook that I'm scared to make any kind of comment here!! :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I've already made enough enemies :D

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  16. At some stage,it's food to talk of food rather than actually eating so much.
    I have still not got used to people updating their status on social media with food dishes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When Dikhawa has a platform and 678 FB friends, why not make full use of it?

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  17. Very relevant post about when foodie mania and social media craze comes together ! Hilarious ! Nowadays I also get irked by people changing their profile pics at least 10 times a month.

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    1. And the mandatory selfies when you're out having a good time.

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  18. Being a foodie, I sometimes feel that things are way too over-rated. Sometimes when I talk about how good a meal was, some people say 'Instagram it or it never happened' I feel like telling them that I post pics of food because I like them and to show it as a proof of sorts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What was considered as showing-off in the past is now considered the norm. I guess times are changing and so are our definitions of what's right or wrong.

      Delete
  19. Oooh lala! This is some post, Purba. As much as I write and talk about food, I find it incredibly irritating when people decide to constant update what they had for every single meal and snack, complete with the image. Of course, it is different when done tastefully. I blame Instagram for the rise ;)

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    1. Constant updates about anything is annoying. Its time we stopped treating ourselves as the centre of everyone else's universe.

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  20. You have very rightly summed up the madness of today's times! And it is beyond stupidity at times. My husband and I are zero at clicking. I may describe a good experience on Twitter but no photos to add. It's just crazy to broadcast pictures every time you eat!

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    1. We are in the camera-age with so many of us afflicted with the constant urge to document events in our life rather than experiencing them.

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  21. Can't help smiling while reading. It's a well penned and bang on spot. Everyone seems to be a food and wine experts nowadays, the new politics of being Foodie:)

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  22. I smiled thoughout and even now thinking of me how I call myself a foodie and click the dishes almost every time I eat out. well, if only the presentation is appealing. Nowadays it becomes like a habit to me and on n off I share it in my blog as a part of My Food Journey series. Thoroughly enjoyed the read. :)

    A Rat's Nibble

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