Social media feeds appetite

sushi

“Foodstagramming” has changed the way we eat. According to a new report, one in five of us now takes pictures of our food – and it’s transforming our dining habits in every way, writes James P Hall

When, in 1827, French inventor Nicéphore Niépce photographed a table set with a bowl, a wine bottle and a hunk of bread, he could not have imagined the precedent he was setting.

In taking the world’s first still-life picture of food, Niépce was foreshadowing one of this century’s most curious phenomena.

In the last month alone, one in five UK adults has posted a picture of his or her food on social media, or sent a shot to a friend, according to research published today, and this rises to a third among 18- to 24-year-olds.

The research finds that almost half of us make more effort when preparing food for guests or social media- minded members of family if we think a photo of it may appear online. We are becoming, to adapt Napoleon’s phrase, a nation of shot-reapers  and it’s changing the way we eat and entertain at home.

Last month, the Italian restaurant chain Zizzi teamed up with Leanne Lim-Walker, a popular Instagrammer, to train its staff “to help diners capture the perfect foodie snap”.

According to industry insiders, some restaurants are now deliberately including one eminently Facebook-able dish on their menus – a trend not universally welcomed.

At the same time, certain restaurants in the US and France have banned customers from taking pictures of their dishes, or “foodstagramming”, as it has become known.

Patrons at Heston Blumenthal’s Mandarin Oriental restaurant Dinner have been asked to refrain from using flashes when snapping their food.

Top 10 foodstagrams

So what’s the most foodstagrammed meal? On the basis of its global hashtag popularity, it’s pizza, followed by sushi and chicken. The top 10 most instagrammed foods are:

  1. Pizza 22457658 posts
  2. Sushi 15437331 posts
  3. Chicken 13719973 posts
  4. Salad 11586727 posts
  5. Pasta 9085302 posts
  6. Bacon 6994686 posts
  7. Burger 6895987 posts
  8. Eggs 6615964 posts
  9. Steak 5810361 posts
  10. Salmon 5043566 posts

To delve deeper, tap #food into Instagram and there are 192 million pictures to work your way through.

But why do we feel compelled to take photographs of our food in the first place?

There’s the Everest principle: we take pictures of our food because we can. At least twice a day, we sit with a plateful of food and, more often than not, a smartphone, with its powerful camera and dozens of fancy filters. The impulse to record the everydayness of one’s meal is perhaps no different to that which compelled Monsieur Niépce some 190 years ago.

Today, though, there’s an extra ingredient: the so-called humblebrag.

When someone posts and tags a picture of their dish at The Ivy, are they really showing us the steak in front of them, or are they signposting that they’re at dining in one of London’s most exclusive eateries? The answer seems depressingly obvious.

Just take the shot before your food gets cold.   – The Daily Telegraph

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