Apr 9, 2019 Food
Calm down and appreciate food without it needing to entertain you, exasperated Metro writer Alex Blackwood begs.
Rainbow bagels, sushi donuts, galaxy milkshakes, and unicorn frappuccinos. Food which has been unnecessarily glazed, or covered in cheese, or morphed into some unholy hybrid (sushi burrito, anyone?). Barely edible creations which have been needlessly thrown together by some Instagram-crazed mad scientist of a cafe owner in the hopes of prompting headlines like These Fluffy Pink Velvet Waffles Are EVERYTHING *heart eyes emoji*!!
But these disgusting Frankenstein foods aren’t everything – far from it. They taste too-sweet, they’re undercooked, they’re like cardboard. That’s fine I suppose, if you are a small child who really wants to eat something pink – not if you are an adult with taste buds, an appreciation for brioche and the word “foodie” in your Instagram bio. Social media has created a glitter-doused, fever-pitched tantrum of a food movement which is leading people to do things like drink coffee out of avocado shells, dye bagels green (#mermaid!), rainbow (#unicorn!), add enough activated charcoal or squid ink to turn a burger black and say it’s goth, and put bacon on frankly far too many things. There are 48,160 posts tagged #rainbowbagel on Instagram. It’s exhausting just to look at, let alone eat.
It’s not about taste, it’s about the Instagram hype these foods can create – you’re essentially eating advertising. These foods are not designed for eating, they are designed for selling, garnering likes and generating clout. It’s a gaudy, false fame. After all, you can’t tell whether chicken wings dusted in gold leaf actually taste good through a photo, even if they look great.
Some chefs really are food artists, like Heston Blumenthal who creates otherworldly interactive dinner parties: gingerbread houses you could actually walk into, and Alice in Wonderland potions which taste different with every sip. Then there are 5-star restaurants which create gorgeous, otherworldly desserts and salads which look like gardens. That’s magic, dousing something in glitter is not.
When food is invented to look good on a social feed, taste is an afterthought. Secondary to the goal of making something that might “blow-up” on Instagram with the hope of getting a modicum of fame. Maybe this is just what happens when our tiny attention spans need to be constantly stimulated, and our attention has become a scarce commodity. But the thing is, food should stimulate you already. You should be able to enjoy food through taste (and yes it should look good too) but why should it need colouring and glitter and a hashtag with thousands of hits to qualify as something to get excited about?
There’s something to be said for food so good that it doesn’t need to be pretty. It doesn’t need to dress itself up, it doesn’t need glitter or food colouring or to become a chimera of itself and another. Because it’s good.
The best thing about bagels is their soft, crusty, plain looking goodness. The best pasta you’ll ever eat will be beige. Flaky, buttery, brown croissants are beautiful. Roasted tomatoes are gorgeous, cheese is SO fantastic and if you can’t remember the last time you put butter on plain, crusty bread and ate that on its own, run to The Daily Bread now.
Though I do have to admit: glazed donut burgers are actually truly excellent.