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Shame on You For Studying The Science Behind Food Porn

March 14, 2012 3 comments

Yes indeed, we loves us some food porn here at A.O.D., and not least because it drives substantial traffic to our blog.  But apart from the shameful pleasures and tawdry thrills derived from ogling images and video that display food at its most lustful and succulent, do we really understand food porn? Have we bothered to comprehend the cognitive and biological factors that drive us to stare hungrily at sun dappled images of farm fresh garden veggies, or at Padma Lakshmi devouring a cheeseburger, or at the Disney Food Porn Facebook page?

Well, some scientists have concluded that this is all a result of “supernormal stimuli,” a phenomenon in nature in which the features of an object – be it a parent, a mate, or food – are exaggerated to make animal respond more strongly to them. In her book Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose, author Deirdre Barrett discusses how advertisers and fast food companies exaggerate things that we like in order to hijack our emotions and cravings.  The idea is that viewers will react more strongly to images of a food/product where the enticing features have been enhanced – mainly, color and texture, e.g. crispness, moistness, freshness,etc.  Barret’s hypothesis is that everyone knows that fast food is unhealthy, but because its advertisements (TV, print, etc.) are expertly designed to scratch a particular itch, by manipulating our desire  to feed ourselves, we can’t resist eating things like Big Macs or Arby’s Big Montana.

So – courtesy Of Christopher Mims’ article on the SmartPlanet blog, we can share the ultimate food porn experience – a nearly 3 minute montage (actually a music video by the Amsterdam-based DJ Mason) showing food porn/advertiser manipulation at its finest.  Mims claims the video drove him to make lunch immediately, and promises you will be headed to get a snack after viewing it.  So, see for yourself – be sure to crank the volume.:

Supernormal Stimuli got hold of you yet? No? Well, we understand that for some of you, food porn may be more properly used to satisfy some of the more base biological urges. We don’t want to leave you all frustrated, so here are some of the most titillating advertisements we have come across in our long history of exploiting sexual food imagery. Enjoy!

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Here’s one that goes well beyond chicks eating burgers, and will assuredly be never aired in the U.S.  However, it is some pretty optimal food porn.

Next up: Hardee’s Monster ThickBurger.  I don’t know how this one escaped my two previous posts on the subject, but in the interests of completing the oeuvre, here you go:

And that finally brings us to the grand prize winner, food porn commercial extraordinaire, blue ribbon, par excellence (warning: may be an ad before this one).

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Allegations salutes . . . The Fat Boys

March 13, 2012 1 comment

Here at Allegations we like food, but we also appreciate a good tune, and we pay special attention when the worlds of food and music converge.  It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, we sit up and take notice.  Occasionally, it happens in the world of Hip Hop – many rap artists have written songs in praise of their favorite foodstuffs.  A Tribe Called Quest famously sang about “Ham & Eggs” (and other foods).  MF Doom devoted a whole album to the subject of food (“Mm…Food”).  There is, however, one Hip Hop group that predates all these efforts.  This group didn’t just write a song about their favorite foods, they adopted food as their identity- fully embraced it as an expression of who they were.  And so, we present a tribute to The Fat Boys, one of Hip Hop’s pioneering ensembles.

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Now, by way of full disclosure – The Fat Boys will always be dear to me because their eponymous album (pictured above) was the third album I ever purchased, at the tender age of 8 (it was preceded by “Pac-Man Fever,” and Men At Work’s “Business As Usual”).  This album came two years after Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message,” and came out the same year as Run D.M.C.’s debut album, just to give an idea of its place in the old-school chronology.

The Fat Boys were (from the right), Prince Markie Dee, Kool-Rock-Ski, and The Human Beat Box.  A particular distinguishing feature of The Fat Boys was the percussive verbal stylings of “The Human Beat Box.”  He wasn’t the first to bust a beat with his mouth, or necessarily the best, but he had a distinctive style and was more than capable of carrying a song when the drum machine dropped out.  Importantly, The Fat Boys were not all gimmicks – they were decent rappers as well, they loved food, and they weighed in at a combined 750 pounds.  For a brief period they were movie stars as well.  Although they may be remembered for their star vehicle “Disorderlies,” they had also chewed up the scenery (literally) in a scene from the old school Hip Hop classic “Krush Groove.”  Here, the Fat Boys are enticed by the all-you-can-eat Italian buffet at the Sbarro on 49th St. and Broadway, which inspires them to burst into song.  The Sbarro is still there, I walk by it every day on my way to work (although the buffet, to the best of  my knowledge, is gone) – an unassuming piece of musical history in Times Square.

Now, the “reflections from jail” song is a tried-and-true Hip Hop archetype, where the narrator reflects on what got him into jail, how tough it is in there, and how he has changed as a result.  Rappers have been recording these songs since the dawn of Hip Hop (for historians, see Slick Rick – “Behind Bars,” Ice-T – “The  Tower,” and, of course, Public Enemy – “Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos.”)  The Fat Boys recorded their own “reflections from jail” song, with their own unique spin.  For those with lots of time on their hands (the song clocks in at over six minutes, including an extended instrumental break and piano solo), the video for “Jailhouse Rap” is below:

The Fat Boys have sadly passed into history, but for some, their legacy remains – a testament to an earlier and more innocent time when rap artists could be severely overweight, could beatbox throughout their records, could poke fun at themselves, could stuff  their faces at Sbarro onscreen and rap about how they got sent upstate for breaking into a pizza place and eating every pizza in sight.  Never again will there be a commercially successful hip hop act like The Fat Boys – but for a brief moment in the mid-1980s, they were the coolest cats on the block.  So, we  present this tribute to the Fat Boys.  You will never see them in the Rock-n-Roll, or even the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame (if such a thing existed), but they are an important piece of early hip hop history and, most importantly, they were not afraid to stuff their faces, film  themselves doing it and sing about it.

Accepting the Lard Back Into Your Life

June 23, 2011 1 comment

For years, the butt of jokes, the source of shuddering revulsion – lard has been the most reviled cooking fat for many generations.  It wasn’t always this way.  At one time, lard was cooking fat’s It Girl.  As these cheery advertisements indicate, lard was once marketed as a sensible lifestyle choice, for hip power couples and families alike.  But eventually, lard was eclipsed by butter and its ugly stepsister, margarine – and later on by sexy newcomers like olive oil.   So indeed lard has been relegated to become the Jimmy Carter of cooking fat, toiling away quietly and doggedly in certain regions of the country, in pie crusts and the like, while remaining the subject of derision for many.

So- the question arises, do you even know what lard really is? Yeah, sure, it has lots of fat, beef fat, or something.

In fact, it is pig fat.  Pig fat is all the rage these days, at least around New York City.  Restaurants like Fatty Crab, Fatty Cue, the Momofukus and many more have basically been created to serve you pig fat.   They call it pork belly.  If you’re really hungry you can get a Bo Ssam, or a suckling pig and feed a crowd.   So – if all the love for pig fat, why no love for lard?  Because its so bad for you! Well, maybe yes, maybe no.  According to the Source Book For Food Scientists (2d ed. 1991) by Herbert W. Ockerman, lard has less saturated fat and less cholesterol than butter by weight, and no transfats.   So, in some respects, you are better off using lard than butter.

So, you are ready to accept the lard back into your life – what to do with it?  Here is a recipe in which lard is a very traditional and crucial ingredient, but which I think most people will want to eat regardless of their prejudices.  So if you are ready to fall in love with lard all over again, give it a whirl:

Tamales De Dulce (Sweet Tamales)

Makes 24 tamales

This recipe is from “Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years of Food and Art,” by Tom Gilliland,  Miguel Ravago and Virginia B. Wood (Shearer Publishing).

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups vegetable
shortening or lard
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 1/2 cups masa harina
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 10 3/4 ounce can chicken broth
1/4 cup raisins
1 teaspoon anise seeds
1/4 cup chopped candied citrus peel
24 corn husks

Instructions:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the lard until fluffy, about three to five minutes. Add sugar, salt and cinnamon; beat to blend. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the masa harina, baking powder and chicken broth. With the mixer on low speed, add the masa mixture, a little bit at a time and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Fold in the raisins, anise seeds and citrus peel. Set aside.

Soak the husks in hot water for about 20 minutes or until they are soft and pliable. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Put 2 tablespoons masa down the center of each husk. Follow pictures for folding. Place the rack in the steamer and pour in enough water so that it just touches the rack. Stand the tamales on the rack, open end up. Bring the water to a boil, cover and steam for about 45 minutes. Serve warm.

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder (?)

Howdy folks, just a brief update that I have returned from my extended blogging vacation and will endeavor to provide witty and insightful food-related commentary on this site on a (somewhat) regular basis.  I cannot speak for my esteemed colleague J. Burger, but hopefully she too will join in the fun.  As long as food carts keep opening, Americans keep getting fatter and Sandra Lee continues her reign as a culinary queen, there remains lots to blog about.  See you soon!

Categories: Uncategorized

Leaving on a jet plane…

There will be fewer posts next week as those sitting on the bench of Allegations of Deliciousness take a short recess.  J. Frankfurter will be in Denver while I’ll be in New Orleans.  We will try to post while we are away (no promises though), but we will definitely be posting about our respective food adventures once we get back.

Until then, laissez les bons temps rouler!

Categories: Uncategorized

Giant Paella In Progress On Vermont Avenue

Today is the spring opening day of the Vermont Ave. Farmer’s Market here in the District of Columbia.  In addition to the usual excitement, there is a team of chefs who are in the process of cooking an enormous paella in the middle of Vermont Avenue.  Notably, the team is being headed by Jose Andres, D.C. restaurant impressario (Minibar,  Jaleo, Cafe Atlantico) and James Beard award winner.  Mr. Andres trained under Ferran Adria at El Bulli in Spain, and is often credited for bringing the “small plates” concept to the United States.  So this is a bona fide food celebrity sighting, courtesy of my co-worker Brigitte who recognized Mr. Andres immediately.  As I write this, the paella is underway (although it will require cooking 35 lbs. of rice, so it may take awhile).  With any luck, it will be ready to serve as I am leaving the office.  Further reports as events warrant.

Categories: Uncategorized

Hot Dogs: The Competitive Eating Musical

For fans of competitive eating and musical theater, Eater has posted an interview with Kristyn Pomerantz and Katherine Steinberg, writer/producers of the upcoming off-off broadway show “Hot Dogs: The Competitive Eating Musical.”   You may or may not recognize Pomerantz and Steinberg as the creative force behind the NYC Fringe Fest hit “I Can Haz Cheezburger: The MusicLOL.”