Above: A dish served to the table at Noma, Copenhagen, 2010. Credit: Sarah Lou.
The Nordic trend in fine-dining has precipitated a sub-genre of food photography. The photos of the plates-of-food as they would be brought to the dining table are super-minimal, super-preciously-arranged, and depict food that is not certainly edible. This food trend is patently perverse--and bizarre. The perversity is in the inversion of a basic assumption: the food in a food-photo should look delicious and appetising.
In posh Nordic food photos, there must be elements--like tree-bark and twigs--which could literally stick in the throat. Or otherwise the dish must seem daunting to eat: alien-looking boiled sea-snails, or many dishes with live ants running over them--these look like they should be served up to contestants on a jungle reality tv-show.
All the primping and preening of the plate as an adventure and challenge for the palate is bourgeois nonsense to me--I just eat food to stay alive. For me, avant-garde eating is a joke, however, the photo-genre of avant-garde Nordic food is interesting in that a definite new visual language of food photography has emerged (since 2010). And its effect is this: these days to photograph food in a way that it looks scrumptious and mouth-watering is declassee--if it looks really tasty and you want to eat what is in the photo then it's not posh. Really posh food has to look like you would fear to eat it, or eat it, if pressurized, slowly and wincing. The new de rigueur of posh dining photos is to make sure that at least something on the plate is alien and rather daunting to the stomach.
(2 October 2018)