Wait…Food Porn? You heard right. According to Elspeth Probin [1] food porn is a glamorized spectacular visual presentation of cooking or eating in advertisements, infomercials, cooking shows or other visual media. For the sake of this piece though, let’s also take it to mean those radio/internet/TV ads produced by clever wordsmiths that impose those glamorous images in our heads. I would be lying if I said the Big Mac ad I see every day on the billboard driving home or the superlatively described steak at Montana’s on AM 680 hasn’t swayed me to make a pit stop. But it doesn’t happen often. I am what my friends call a “nutrition nazi”. For most people, however, the images consume them. The picture of that perfect burger elicits the same response as what happened to Pavlov’s dogs upon hearing that bell. Might as well have been Taco Bell.

 Pavlov rings bell, dogs salivate knowing food is coming.

Pavlov rings bell, dogs salivate knowing food is coming.

And in fact, foods ads are designed by marketers and psychologists with your salivation in mind. Every sesame seed is placed perfectly on the bun relative to the others, every gram of cheese placed in visual sight and the entire image is touched up afterwards to give it that voluptuous, yet not impossible, volume.

"food porn" redefined;

When the natural elements and marketing genius come together in a meal such that its very mention elicits over-the-top desire to consume and release that pent up restraint, likely followed by overwhelming guilt, food becomes porn; an unnatural, difficult to resist fix often immediately followed by regret upon giving in.

   
  
 
 
  
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I want em’  both.

And yet most know junk food is very much akin to porn - offers little in return for the few minutes it spends tantalizing your taste buds (I’m sure my subconscious stole that phrase from a T.V. commercial or radio ad), and yet we still fall prey to the marketing.

It’s especially difficult in Toronto to maintain a ‘good diet’ given the variety of cuisine offered. If the Big Mac doesn’t sway you, thoughts of a shawarma, dynamite rolls, burritos or Korean B.B.Q. likely will. What I’m saying is, there is so much out there in this beautiful city of ours in the way of restaurants that everyone has a weakness here. I’m a shawarma guy myself and my spots are Shawarma Empire and Ibrahim’s, both on Lawrence East near Warden. The mix of tahini/garlic sauce and the meat, fresh off the spit, gets me hungry just typing about it; that, and I rationalize it’s “healthiness” given it does contain some vegetables (recall food nazi).