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Sexy Food

■ 13 December 2011 by James Martin

The term “sexy food” is trending upwards in Google’s walled garden (we web-and-word-wonks live and die by those trends, unfortunately). Steven Poole, writing in The Guardian, evidently noticed this, too. He doesn’t particularly like the trend.

Nigella Lawson covering her face in caramel is the latest example of the sexualisation of our eating habits. Isn’t it time we abandoned this fetish and put our minds before our mouths? ~ Let’s end our obsession with making food sexy

I have to agree with Steven—despite the fact that I am often seen in restaurants with food running in multicolored rivulets from the corners of my mouth and have yet to notice a single person of either sex swooning in unholy rapture.

The thing is, I find simple, Italian food quite sexy. I yearn for it. I’ve written about Sexy food in Piemonte before. But now I’m wondering, is that pile of shellfish in the Guazzetto actually sexy to anyone but me?

Martha and I recently ate the “Weekly Beast” at the Michelin starred One Market Restaurant. The beast was goat; four courses of it. The main course was “Spit Roasted Goat Leg.” Your mouth waters. Spit is a sexy word, no?

Then it came to the table. Thin slices. Pink. Juicy. A tantalizing hint of smoke.

Are we masturbating yet?

But then there was this dollop of green on top, “ramp salsa verde.” Cheap perfume. Harsh on the tongue. Dollop-trollop.

And those slices? Lying in a puddle of red wine reduction—like the unfortunate characters of today’s murder mysteries (trending up!): pornographically displayed flesh, draining life-blood…

Bottom line: you couldn’t taste the goat.

So I’m thinking age has something to do with it. I mean, the younger folks to the left of us, when they weren’t taking pictures of this colorful assemblage with their cell phones (“Timmy’s never going to believe we’re eating goat!”), were fawningly rapturous over the meal.

Eroticism, sexual and otherwise, changes with maturity, it seems to me. When you’re a boy of 12, any ‘ol (ok, young) trollop with humongous breasts spilling from a too-tight bodice will make your head spin. Body parts, artfully squeezed, colorfully painted and perfumed, are characteristics that make the blood surge. In television as in life. In goats as in humans.

But then—to many—these characteristics become less tantalizing as maturation occurs. Maturation doesn’t look pretty in a mirror, but oh, what you can get out of it if you try! Suddenly you want to taste the real thing. You want to get to the heart of the matter. The end of pretty wrappings is the beginning of a deep relationship with the things that matter. The thing itself. Its unique qualities. Its shimmering perfection.

And the food on your plate, if wild in temperament, if joyously unafraid in its eating habits, if perfect in its succulence—will come to you perfectly unadorned. You will revel in its uniqueness, its character. If you dare. What could be sexier than that?

Sexy Food originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com Dec 13, 2011, © James Martin.

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