The History Of Extravagant Food

renaissance Dutch food

We’ve all heard of “instagramming food” or “food porn”. However, there is a whole history of extravagant food.

We’ve all heard of “instagramming food” or “food porn”. However, there is a whole history of extravagant food.

Experts from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab have looked at 750 Western paintings which portray food, from across five countries and done in a period of 500 years.

Next they catalogued the food in the paintings that showed family sized meals, instead of banquets. It came down to 104 food varieties. Another surprising discovery was that the people’s choice to see pictures of extravagant, hard to get food is not new.

The most popular meat painted was shellfish – mostly lobster- and the most commonly occurring vegetable was artichoke. Lemon ranked number one at the top of the fruit chain.

Lead author of the study, Brian Wansink believes that meals involving not so healthy foods are not limited to modern times. Many paintings of the Renaissance were stuffed with salty, fatty foods like sausages and bread.

The survey was published in the Sage Open Journal. The authors revealed that artists have long oriented towards painting aesthetically appealing, or otherwise special foods.

Experts from the Oxford University Laboratory, led by Professor Charles Spence, warn that the rise of visually appealing depictions of foods, which surrounds us via advertising and social media could be one of the main causes of obesity, as photos give us an appetite.

The phenomenon could somehow be harnessed if it would be propagated in a responsible way. Examples include encouraging healthy food, more fruit for children and so on.

Others warn of the commoditization of food, which is increasingly done by the Millenial generation. This generation craves perfect, photogenic dishes, which taste good, but look authentic.

So indulging in exotic or extravagant foods is not a new pleasure, it’s been already done by older generations.

Overtime, our food preferences did change. Funny enough, they changed in the same direction which was depicted by the Renaissance painters: towards the more exotic, hard to find foods, instead of finding balanced, healthy alternatives.

This obsession with food could also be connected to the obesity epidemic, which affects almost half of the population, across the world.

What’s your opinion on this article? Does how we see food influence what we eat? Please leave a comment below. Thanks!

Image Source – Wikipedia