Hot red lobster with Prosecco butter sauce running down its claws, seductively posed on a bed of creamy rosemary, garlic and chèvre yellow corn grits. Pork tenderloin outfitted with bacon, stuffed with figs and blue cheese, splayed out on a white porcelain plate, surrounded by crimson fig slices. It is no secret that food has adopted the allure and addictive qualities of pornography. The difference between T&A and PB&J? It's safe to gawk at close-ups of well-endowed produce in public. You likely won't be canned at work for running your mouse over a photo of a steaming hunk of lasagna, or a thick, dark slice of German Chocolate Cake. While pornographic images can induce insecurity and feelings of unattainable desire, food porn is possible. You see something that looks perfectly delicious, an organic work of art, and the recipe often follows. Plenty of food porn can be easily–and safely–realized at home.
“We tend to think of ourselves more as food pornographers than as food photographers,” says food blogger, personal chef, and food porn star Amanda Simpson. Her two blogs, which she runs with her boyfriend and taste-tester Tyler, What We're Eating and Food Porn Daily, are galleries of gorgeous photos of meals she cooks herself. After working in the restaurant business for over ten years, she is now a personal chef in San Diego and splits her time between cooking, photographing and eating food. Squid Ink asked her a few questions about her food blogs and her perspective on grub from behind the lens.
Squid Ink: How long have you been blogging about food?
Amanda Simpson: Tyler and I started food blogging in July of 2005 for What We're Eating. When Tastespotting shut down last June, we knew it was the right time to release FoodPornDaily, a new website we had been tinkering with for nearly a year.
SI: Do you cook?
AS: Yup! I cook about 90% of all the food featured on FoodPornDaily as well as 100% of the food on What We're Eating. It's my passion and I love it.
SI: Which is your favorite LA food truck?
AS: Never eaten at an LA food truck!
SI: Are you trained as a photographer?
AS: Tyler and I are not trained photographers. Frankly, everything I know I learned from Tyler. In the summer of 2005 he received a digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) as a graduation present which made dabbling in photography way more accessible. Shortly after Tyler got the camera, we found ourselves inspired by a piece of luscious oozing Humboldt Fog cheese and took our first food photograph. It was that food photo that was the start of our entire online food website careers. We've been cooking up and photographing pretty much everything that comes out of our kitchen ever since.
SI: Is the quality of food usually reflected in its photograph?
AS: In my opinion, the biggest influence on whether any dish, translates into “pretty food” is the care with which it's plated. You can take the most humble of ingredients and style them on a plate in a way that really accents what's best about them. Honestly, I like to think about what angle of the food makes me salivate the most and focus on that. On the flip side, if great tasting food is hastily slopped onto a plate it can be a pretty unappealing sight/photograph. We tend to think of ourselves more as food pornographers than as food photographers. Our emphasis is primarily on close-ups of decadent, drool-worthy food (food porn), as opposed to shots where the entire scene is styled using props, clothes, textured surfaces, etc.
SI: What type of camera do you use?
AS: We use a Canon 5d Mark II with a macro lens for almost all of our photos.
SI: Who are your favorite photographers?
SI: What's your favorite little-known food blog?
AS: One of my favorite lesser known food blogs is Leena Eats. Leena, who received her masters in Gastronomy in Australia, is a hysterical writer who happens to eat pretty much everything in her path.
SI: What's your take on the recent influx of food blogs and fascination with cooking shows?
AS: If I had to guess, I would say that it has to do a lot with what the media is feeding us. Now that the Food Network has been around for over 15 years, Americans are used to ingesting food-related media as entertainment. Once our culture at large accepted that learning about food and cooking was as much a form of entertainment as it was a way to sustain human life, the floodgates were open. Combine that with the concept of “weblogs” that began gaining popularity in the early to mid part of this decade and I think it was only a natural progression. When we started our main food blog, What We're Eating, in July of 2005, we thought we were inventing the wheel! We had no clue that there were hundreds of other people blogging about food! Now there are actually thousands upon thousands of them! The ubiquitous “they” say that the average life span of a blog, one that actually makes it past the first few months, is around 3 years. We've been around for over four years so far and we're still having a blast and hopefully just getting better with time!