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Food & Sex February 23, 2009

Posted by Alex Sawit in Food & Drink, Stuff in General.

By Alex Sawit

23 February 2009




“Food Porn.”

I don’t know about you, but to my way of thinking it takes an admirably fiendish mind to coin a phrase like that.  Admirable because of the simplicity with which such an innocent everyday word could be comfortably juxtaposed with another so vulgar and indecent; fiendish because, well, it just is.

Whether celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain invented the phrase or just popularized it, and regardless of whether I approve of it or not, I tip my hat to him.  Even though he’s been gleefully using the phrase on his show for years, hearing it still brings amusement to my pseudo-scandalized ears and I’m sure Bourdain gets a kick out of just saying it.  No wonder he was gabbing at his poetic best, albeit luridly, his voice-over seemingly more emphatic than usual as he narrated his pre-Valentine’s Day presentation of No Reservations, the aptly titled “Food Porn” Special Episode.

What is food porn exactly, as defined by Bourdain?  To put it this way, it is food so good that the sight of it makes a culinary nerd like Tony feel like he’s feasting his eyes on a mind-blowing pictorial of the Playmate of the Month.  Just like a centerfold treat of lusciously sweet curves, creamy smooth legs and ripe bosom ampleness, food this seductive gives Tony the “gastronomic equivalent of morning wood,” as he calls it.

So think of No Reservations: Food Porn as an unapologetic acknowledgment. With guest scenes of chefs tempting us with sinful creations and explicit camera close ups of wickedly decadent dishes, Bourdain gets in your face to remind you of something that I suspect we all already know deep down inside. That is, like fine porno, good food is orgasmic.


Photo added 28 May 2014


That’s what came up for discussion the other week after I and a few guests viewed segments of the episode at the wine shop.  This still being a country with a heavy Roman Catholic predisposition, the idea that food and sex share an intrinsic connection seemed to unsettle my audience ever so imperceptibly.

“I always like to tell folks,” I tried explaining in so many words I can’t remember, “that food and sex – or food and love if you prefer, since this is Valentine’s Week – are two sides of the same coin.”

“You only have to examine the language,” I proceeded to say.  “Romance writers have been telling us this for centuries, but we rarely stop to think about the connection even though the clues stare us in the face whenever we read the words.  Whenever we talk or read about sex, why is it that we enjoy describing it with words we associate with food?  Just listen to classic lines repeated in romantic literature.”

Lines like: She thirsted for his sweet kisses…. Feeding his gaze upon her beauty, he consumed the sight of her delicious feminine form…. Their appetites having been aroused and hungry for more, they devoured each other in a night of ravenous passion….

Or try the phrases of modern pop culture: Eye candy… sugar babe… beef cake… honey pot… cherry pie… sexy peach… hot tamale… popsicle toes…

And the porn industry?   Why do you think they call it a “cheesecake” shot to begin with?  Let’s not even explain the misuse of the word “pork” outside of government spending.

“The truth is,” I continued, “our primal instinct tells us that food and sex are practically one and the same thing.  Eating sustains life, while sex is the action for creating life.  In a sense, both have the same ultimate objective.  The fact that both acts give us great pleasure helps ensure that we will be irresistibly motivated to achieve that objective.  That’s why our ‘civilized’ minds can’t help but enjoy blurring the distinction between the two, because combining the two pleasures doubles our lust for life, if you will forgive me for saying it that way.”

Unfortunately, our shop talk was cut short by the priorities of running a business (like selling more wine to newly arriving guests).  But I think I made my point clear to everyone. Know thyself, I always say.

Just to be fair, I’ll let Bourdain have the last word with his key message from the special episode that sparked this discussion in the first place:

“Food and wine leading to sex?  Yes, as it should!!!”





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