Gastronomy: Just leave the dirty dishes

 

Humankind, T S Eliot said, cannot bear very much reality. When it comes to food, we've grown to love a style of photography that bears little relation to the products of our humble kitchens. It's called gastroporn.

Seen through its lens, fruit and vegetables glow with colour and amplitude. Seafood dishes are riots of Mediterranean-sun splendour. Roast leg of lamb has the umbral patina of a Rembrandt portrait...

Well, you can forget all that stuff. A new tendency is in Cookstown, and it's realism. Down-to-earth recipes, unpretentious flavours, everyday ingredients, slam-it-together-and-serve-it-up cooking. To accompany this approach we have a different quality of photographs.

Check out, for instance, Joanna Weinberg's Cooking for Real Life, out next month. The photographs by Jill Mead show us our everyday supper as it is, rather than as we'd like it: putty-coloured pasta, sludge-hued chilli con carne, vomit-pigmented lamb stew. A subtle variant on this dismaying food palette is to photograph casserole pans with the splotches, scorch spots, skid-marks and side-drips that mark our sorry process and leave our cooking pot resembling a bombed-out latrine.

You'll find this kind of stuff in many cookbooks very soon. We must be grateful for such a bracing douche of realism, after all that foolish, mendacious beauty.

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