That title was a mouthful.
It’s no secret the only thing Asians love more than eating their food is taking pictures of them and sharing them in every format imaginable. I’m not sure at what point my Facebook timeline turned into a food emporium, but it’s here.
The topic of food has gone from a necessity of three meals a day into the easiest attention seeking thrill; suddenly there’s some sort of self affirmation and status associated with what you eat, which I would agree with if all these low-res cell phone photos were actually edible off my computer screen.
Earlier this year, I started “The Greatest Foodie Album Of All-Time” on a vacation I went on and proceeded to take pictures of empty plates of what I ate, captioned by the location and what I ordered. This was me, in my brilliantly confident self hiding behind a computer screen, expressing some abstract statement about food.
After all, is there actually any value to looking at these plates of food? I felt I was providing the same information by just telling you where I went and what I ate. Was that not the purpose? To communicate the same way everyone checks into Four Square. I thought it ain’t about where you’ve been but where you’re from. I was wrong.
After pictures of empty plates, cutlery, finished oyster shells and even business cards of restaurants, I finally got a response: “this is the worst album…” and another friend asked, “Agreed. Is this album supposed to be some post-modern irony shit?”
I wasn’t trying to overreach. I don’t even know how you define post-modernism.
I guess it was a statement that fell short.
And then came a Tumblr idea that helped me get over all the insults to my idea: Pictures Of Asians Taking Pictures Of Food.
Food pictures retained their essence, but now the focus was on the people themselves, what they were taking photos of. Is a plate of popcorn chicken at your favorite bubble tea joint really worth having on your storage card? Have I never eaten a bowl of noodle soup that I need a visual reminder? Why is this all so frustrating.
The people behind this website understand my feelings. I’m sure of it.
Listen, not all things food are bad. I love that someone like Eddie Huang has developed a presence through his success with Bao Haus, I respect publications like Lucky Peach, especially when they’re producing quality material like this David Simon piece, and Anthony Bourdain has been doing great work for years now, and wrote one of my favorite graphic novels this year in Get Jiro!.
When any subject matter gets the level of detail it deserves, and talented people put their heart into it, the result is that we’re all better for it. But when it just becomes a rush to crowd an audience or there’s no rhyme or reason to what you’re sharing, it just dissolves into something that stops mattering.
Or just some post modern irony shit.