Cooking is the new pornography


Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my learned friend will try to tell you that the accused is innocent on all charges.

He will suggest that this behaviour is entirely normal. Humdrum. The very picture of domestic normality.

The reality is very different. This is nothing short of filth. It is base depravity. Lewdness of the highest order.

I put it to you that television  cookery programmes are pornography, nothing more nothing less.

This is fifty shades of grease-proof paper. Top oven shelf material. Debbie does salad.

During the course of this trial, I will present you with evidence so devastating that you will surely have no option but to reach a guilty verdict.

First, I will show that celebrity chefs use inappropriately saucy language. If something is not firm, then it is moist. Creams are silken and whipped into peaks. Steaks are always juicy and meaty.

But more than that, the chefs and even the menus have to have phone sex with us. Instead of describing what their food is, they tell us exactly what they are going to do to it. Fish will be pan-seared, potatoes will be crushed, vinaigrette will be drizzled. This is the language of the boudoir, not the boulangerie.

And why, I ask you, does everything have to be in French – universally accepted as the language of seduction? The language that brought us lingerie, décolletage and ménage à trois. Who has not suffered a frisson of illicit pleasure as Michel Roux junior describes how to make filet de Saint-Pierre et artichauts à la Barigoule?

Not to mention the baking world’s fascination with soggy bottoms.

I must apologise for using such language in an open court. Ladies and gentlemen, you must brace yourself for similarly salacious terms. This is a seedy world that we are entering. And often those are sesame seeds lightly toasted.

My second argument is that the actors in these televisual frolics display inappropriate levels of enjoyment during the tasting.  It is food, for goodness sake. Fish and chips. Vegetables and ketchup. Meat and two veg. There is no need to swoon and roll your eyes as if your partner has whisked you to the very peaks of sensual enjoyment. This is when ham meets salad, not When Harry met Sally.

Naturally there will be nudity. Sometimes, shockingly so. As part of the case for the prosecution, we will show you plates so scantily clad that they could hardly be considered to be dressed at all. Acres of empty white china with nothing to hide their modesty apart from the slightest smear of sauce. A blob of so-called ‘jus’. Where normal people would wear sensible clothes, these exhibitionists will flaunt their marble slabs or wooden boards with insubstantial chifffonery that they call airs and foams.

You will not fail to notice the phallic imagery. Everything is towered on top of something, on top of something else. Most likely a seared scallop on top of a circle of black pudding and a quiver of pea purée. And we need hardly mention the pepper-pots which often reach demi-god-like proportions.

You will be shocked to see the amount of touching that goes on. Chefs prod and poke their food with their fingers, they kneed, fondle, grope, squeeze and plump. When decent folk use kitchen utensils, these ‘performers’ can’t keep their hands off their mains.

This is a world of cosmetic enhancement. Not content with the ovens and equipment that nature gave them, these chefs insist on the biggest and the best. Unrealistically large Agas and cooking ranges. Kitchens that you could throw a party in. Where the rest of us manage with four rings, an oven and a microwave, these programmes think nothing of dazzling us with 40DD equipment racks.

Perhaps the most damning evidence of all is that people watch this stuff instead of cooking for themselves. It is a substitute for the real thing, and a very unrealistic substitute at that. Just like pornography, these chefs display a level of athleticism and stamina that would leave most of us feeling decidedly inadequate.

A potato cannot simply be a chip. It must be a thrice cooked chip smothered in freshly made béarnaise sauce.

A dish cannot solely be made with strawberries. Instead it must be “textures of strawberry” cooked three different ways. At least one of those methods must involve liquid nitrogen and/or a water bath.

I put it to you that this is pure pornography. It is deliberately humiliating and belittling to those of us who cannot hope to achieve such levels of variety or athleticism in the comfort of our own homes.

After all, when was the last time that you stuffed a mushroom?


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