Food Porn is new to me.

I heard of it only recently, but since then I have been hearing it a lot. Articles in the press, websites, blogs, advertisements. Chefs who fight against it. Chefs who defend it. Lawyers who say it’s legal. Lawyers who say it isn’t.

Food Porn seems to be “in,” if we’re to believe social media and the thousands of food photos uploaded daily to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and others for millions of Food Porn addicts to salivate over. Then there are the countless web sites and blogs devoted to Food Porn and to uploaded photos from the food-obsessed.

It’s certainly not porn as we know it (not that I really know porn).

Rather, it relates to posting pictures of food on the Internet. Appealing, provocative, sensual pictures of “exotic dishes that arouse a desire to eat, or the glorificaiton of food as a substitute for sex,” according to Wikipedia, which helpfully advises not to confuse food porn with food and sexuality.

“Hard core, Asian, Amateur, Self Pleasure or Barley Legal” one website dedicated to Food Porn offers, warning that “this page contains food-oriented graphics.”

Cute.

So is the further caution to stay away “if you are under legal eating age, are offended by food, or if it is illegal to view or consume food in your community.”

What triggered a flurry of coverage of Food Porn by the global media in recent weeks was a decision by a number of Michelin-starred chefs in France to take a stand against diners who photograph their food to post on social media sites.

“For some French chefs, it is an insult to their art,” the Daily Telegraph recently reported. “Now a group of leading restaurateurs – among them a man with three Michelin stars – is campaigning to end the culture of “food porn” and ban smartphone photos from their restaurants.”

The anti-porn chefs have various reasons for their opposition: Taken by non-professional photographers, such photos don’t do their dishes justice. The snapping is disturbing to other diners. Still more serious: The cultural, aesthetic tradition and art of dining is disrupted by the modern addiction to social media. “Should Food Porn selfies be banned in restaurants?” the Guardian asked in a poll.

For other chefs, however, the clicking of cameras – either phone or real camera - is good for business, free publicity and a means to leverage Internet-based promotions. Seen in that light, photo sharing is a mark of customer approval for the product.

Food Porn has created another catchphrase: “Camera eats first.”

Love it or hate it; practice it or don’t. Either way, it’s clear that the new cultural obsession of pictorializing the food people eat is growing like porn and with it, the debate over this issue of etiquette and its legal implications.

“Does the activity violate the intellectual property of chefs and restaurants?” one Guardian columnist asked.

“French chefs have been joined by fellow foodies elsewhere. R.J. Cooper, of Rogue 24 in Washington, D.C., has made similar claims on Eater, stating: ‘They publish food photos without your consent, which is taking intellectual property away from the restaurant.’ ”
台灣由來已久的美食部落客文化,其部落格充斥著各種讓人垂涎三尺、食指大動的美照,彷彿食物就在你眼前,香氣也透著螢幕傳來。

而現在這種替食物拍美照的風潮,似乎也東風西漸,飄洋過海到西方。

《Forbes》專欄作家 Cecilia Rodriguez 撰文指出,人們最近才聽過食物A片(Food porn)這詞。無論是新聞報導,或是網站、廣告。有大廚反對它,有大廚捍衛它。有律師說這合法,有律師說這不合法。

食物 A 片看起來相當流行,來源從美食各大社群網站,如臉書、Instagram、Painterst,乃至各大網站,都充滿了食物上來不先拍照會死的照片。

這不是我們熟知的 A 片。這是將美食照 PO 上網路。維基百科的定義,是讓「美味佳餚讓你激起品味的慾望,或是食物的盛讚足以做為性愛的替代。」嗯,這真的讓我們不會將食物與性愛混淆。

一個熱衷於食物 A 片的網站招牌是這麼寫的:「硬核、亞洲、素人、自慰、勉強合法」,旁邊警語是「這頁面充斥著食品相關的照片。」

真是太可愛了。

讓食物A片一事浮上國際媒體,是一法國米其林大廚怒了。他無法忍受有人擺著菜涼掉不吃,只顧著幫食物拍照並上傳到社群網站。

《每日電報》報導指出:「對某些法國大廚而言,這是對其藝術的一種羞辱。現在一群頂尖的餐飲業人員,當中有些人還有米其林三星,正發起杜絕食品 A 片的計畫,且禁止使用智慧型手機拍攝食物照片。」

反對食物A片的大廚有許多理由:其一,因為照片不是專業人士拍的,無法真實呈現食物。再來就是拍照的舉措,對其他用餐者帶來困擾。更嚴重的事情,在於整個用餐的傳統以及美學都被社群網站狂熱干擾。

《衛報》在其調查中是這麼問的:「食物 A 片等自拍是否該在餐廳中禁止?」

對其他大廚而言,按按快門沒什麼不好─宣傳費都省了,還能提振在網路上的能見度。然後越多的分享,則成了人們對其食物的讚揚。

食物 A 片,也創造了另一個流行語:「相機先吃。」這大概就等同於台灣的「食物先別動,我先拍個照這樣。」

愛它或恨它,要不要拍都是另一回事,替食物拍美照已經成了一個文化現象。一衛報專欄作家問道:「這樣的舉動,是否侵犯了大廚及餐廳的智慧財產權?」

不少大餐廳都有類似聲明,說「他們公開食物照片,這奪去了餐廳的食品設計。」

雖然很多大廚會這麼說,但是歐洲律師的共識,是版權法並不適用於烹飪上。

不過食物依然很美好。最近有部電影是這麼由Jon Favreau所導,內容描述一個大廚破釜沉舟的離開洛杉磯,跑去邁阿密與前妻及兒子開始做食品攤車生意。這部電影裡有鋼鐵人的小勞伯道尼、性感黑寡婦史嘉莉喬韓森,還有老牌影星達斯汀霍夫曼。

以及很多很多的食物A片。