From “Top Chef” to “Julie & Julia,” from the Travel Channel’s “Food Paradise” to New York Magazine’s whopping 82-burger slideshow, delicious food has become the new cultural obsession. But has it also become a treat for our eyes only? Michael Pollan recently fretted so in The New York Times, arguing that proper, wholesome cooking has migrated from the pots and pans of the American kitchen to the Food Network’s primetime lineup.
Don’t tell Pollan, but we’re about to enable America’s food-porn addiction. We researched the tantalizing world of food art, photography and sheer voyeurism on SweetSearch, and turned up the following (sesame) seedy side of the Web. Plenty of sites serve up photographic fodder, but few can beat Photograzing from Serious Eats, foodgawker or the aptly named FoodPornDaily for lush and delectable pictures. Although the latter two sites offer neither more nor less than their URLs promise, the Serious Eats main site features recipes, restaurants and food news from all over the country—in addition to tasty photos, of course. The restaurant-review site Menuism earns honorable mention in the low-hanging but mouthwatering fruit category: It allows users to browse for restaurants by food photos.
As the photographic equivalent of street food or carnival fare, the above sites offer little for a higher-brow palate. Fortunately, there’s a range of food art and food-centric social commentary that caters to the tastes of both voyeur and connoisseur. WebEcoist offers “15 Fascinating Food Artists and Sculptors,” an excellent introduction to food art that features potato chip portraits, elegant butter statues, surreal foodscapes and a “Biscuit City.”
Time Magazine’s feature “What the World Eats” shows 15 families from all over the world with their entire week’s food allowance spread out before them, providing a fascinating look into geographical differences in diet. Similarly, Mark Menjivar’s “You Are What You Eat,” presented by Good Magazine, captures the contents of strangers’ refrigerators, and the simple Tumblr “Hospital Food” collects photos of meals from sickbeds worldwide.
Finally, there are plenty of resources for budding food photographers. Check out Rob Willey’s advice in his Food & Wine Magazine article “Shoot First, Eat Later,” Photojojo’s “The Ten Tastiest Food Photography Tips,” “little nuggets from the front lines of food styling and photography” from the blog “Still Life With” or, for a behind-the-scenes look at a professional in action, watch Cooking Up a Story’s “The Art of Food Photography.”