I’ve just returned from a few wonderful days in wonderful Copenhagen, thanks to a generous invitation to deliver a keynote address at a conference on Food, Media and Identity. As usual after these sorts of events – by which I mean conferences with lots of cool, thought-provoking talks and probably
way too much a bit too much collegial wine following each day’s session – there are plenty of thoughts that need some time to settle and disentangle before they (hopefully) morph into some useful new ideas and directions.
But one issue stood out for me both up to and during the two days that we were at it. This was that what I would normally refer to as food media (ahem) were often described as media food. At first I resisted pointing this out, thinking it would just be pedantic (maybe a lost in translation thing?), but then it occurred to me that there may be an interesting distinction, and one that’s worth making. So, very briefly: when I refer to food media, I’m talking about the various media (television, magazines, www, etc) on or through which food is represented.
What might media food be? Something like fodder for media?
Take this guy for example:
This is Thomas Rode, who is a *bit* famous in Denmark as a) a well-known chef (having cooked in the well-respected Kong Hans Kælder restaurant for many years) who b) has also relatively recently gone “Paleo” and who c) has these ridiculous washboard abs which he’s evidently not shy to show off – in situations clearly meant to enhance the whole hunter-gatherer look (cue tattoos and goggles).
Now because I’m still a bit travel weary, and because I have plans for dinner soon (with pasta!), I’m going to resist a missive about the Paleo phenomenon (including how annoying I find it that any recipes without carbs are now being branded “Paleo” recipes), or making any David Mitchell-type jokes about mottos like “Primal Gastronomi” (which you don’t need to speak Danish to understand). I will just suggest instead that this sort of image is an example of media food, rather than food media.
Let’s see if it’ll work with a fish analogy. Fish food is food for fish. So media food is food for media. Food fish is for people and other things who like to eat fish. So food media are for people and other things who like to eat food. Which means they are about food and not about six-pack abs and pretending to be on the set of Quest for Fire. Which was quite a raunchy film, come to think of it, since there apparently wasn’t much to do back then apart from hunting and gathering. Imagine, those naughty hunter-gatherers were making media food before it was even, like, a thing. And then us clever post-Neanderthals have evidently figured out a way to turn media food into food media by making food fish sexy.
No, never mind. As you were. Time for dinner.