Is Food The New Sex?
I called it The Great Drought. The economy was crashing and had taken our sex with it. I spent hours glued to the television watching the market, trying to determine whether maybe, just maybe, the conditions would allow for a seduction.
Finally, an opportunity arose. The Feds were taking action and not all seemed lost. I was resolute. We would have sex that night. I threw on a playlist of perfectly slutty songs, ran a bath and followed it with an emulsion in coconut oil (the island girl secret to skin you just can't quit touching). I made myself up like a porn star. Slipped on lingerie, stockings, fuck-me pumps.
“I am a pleasure instrument,” I reminded the mirror, applying mascara to my newly permed eyelashes. "Every hole on this body is entirely at your disposal. My body serves no other purpose than that of our pleasure."
When I appeared at the door, he was sitting in front of the television. I strutted over to him and kissed him.
“Honey,” he said, “you’re in the way.”
The television, being nearly six feet wide, made it a little hard not to be in the way. But I wasn’t going to let this get to me. No, no, no! I was going to seduce my husband.
Suddenly, I imagined myself a lioness, hidden in the shrubbery. This man was the hartebeest, standing at a distance, chewing grass, holding a remote, occupied with the migratory patterns of Hannity & Colmes. On my belly, I crawled over the terrain. Every movement had to be carefully measured. Carelessness would undoubtedly result in complete physical starvation.
The lioness had had nothing for over a week. She pounced!
“I’m tired, baby,” he said, zipping up his pants.
I rose, slowly, and went straight to the kitchen. Now, I'm not an emotional eater. I wasn't hungry, really, but I went into the kitchen anyway and began to make myself a sandwich.
Never before had I paid so much attention to everything. The toasting of the bread, the preparation of the condiments, the selection of things to place in it, the washing, cutting and arrangement of these things, the tasting, the assessment, the renewed process to incorporate what was missing. The single bite. Yes, that is perfect.
What I really wanted to do, it occurred to me at the moment, was make sushi. I didn't have the ingredients at the moment. But I soon would.
That's how I got into cooking.
"I have a theory," I told my friend Thomas, 42, a journalist in Manhattan and also a foodie. "I think foodie culture is a direct result of sexual dissatisfaction."
Photo by dollen.
"That makes perfect sense," he said. Hiding out upstate to decompress, Thomas was grilling himself foie gras d'oie. Across the country, I was coaxing a béarnaise into being.
"I can't stop watching the cooking shows," I said. "It's a huge industry—all of it. Chefs are the new porn stars. We spend hours perusing produce. Everything is carefully inspected, selected, purchased, put away, then taken out, washed, cut up, mixed, put to the flame... Sex to a lot of us has lost its focus on the details. It's lost its sensuality. The kitchen brings that careful attention to the senses right back. It resurrects eroticism."
Thomas and I had a hot night once when we were both stranded in some small island in the middle of nowhere, high on the rush of the story. I'd wanted it hard and rough and he'd run out of vodka before he could access his sadism. So what had we done? We'd cooked.
"I don’t want to be here the day food replaces sex.” says John De Lucie, the head chef at Graydon Carter’s Waverly Inn.
But is it too late?
Following my divorce, I was dating a man whose schedule was exactly like mine. One night, we decided to take a break and really spend time together. I put on garters, stockings, shoes and a coat—and not much else. When I arrived at his house, he lamented the state of his refrigerator, so we made a dash to the grocery.
We spent so much time deliberating over different items at the store, then preparing them when we got back to his place (me in nothing but stockings and stilettos), that by the time we had finished eating, we only had enough energy to watch fifteen minutes of a film before we passed out from exhaustion.
"I worry that the lust that drove earlier generations from disco to bed seems too focused now on food, shopping (organica and leafy local greens), cooking and eating out, and endless blogging about it," writes Gael Greene at The Daily Beast. "I can’t believe that anyone has the time for advanced love-making — changing the sheets, soaking in a scented bath, setting up a favorite porn film."
My friend Sarah, 28, and a chef, disagrees with this concern.
"You are what you eat," she told me on the phone this morning. "It makes perfect sense that our tastes for food would become as sophisticated as we are--and require as much attention as we do."
“What is that noise?” I asked about a horrible sound that had suddenly exploded from my phone.
"I have a boyfriend, did I tell you?" she asked me, then added, without irony: "Sorry—he's a little obsessed with my Blendtec."
"There may be some truth to this, but come on," New York Magazine's Daniel Maurer said in response to Greene's claims, pointing out a new chef-specific sex scandal.
At the end of the day, also, foodie-ism is an easy way to connect with people — among a certain set, it’s a lot easier to bond over how much they like the anchovy and olive at DBGB, or better yet, who has the best pizza in town, than to sustain a conversation about the situation in Iran... Yesterday we met a woman who works in wine, who (unaware that we had written about it) told us how much she wanted to go to Ed Mitchell’s Beard House dinner. Obviously, we were on the same page. If we were smooth like that, we might have asked her, 'Did you know that popcorn increases libido?' Of course, what did we end up doing that night? Well, we went cruising. That is, we cruised by Trattoria Cinque to see if it had opened yet in the old Devin Tavern space. It hasn’t.
So if you ever come over to my apartment and open my kitchen cupboards to find no cooking utensils among the paint brushes, tubs of paint and other art supplies, you know what's going on: I'm bringing the magic back to sex.
The Delicious Life: "The short story is this: my name is Sarah. I started writing The Delicious Life as a food blog in 2005. Spewing love and hate (and everything in between) about food and restaurants saved my soul from dying a slow, cold, corporate death-by-bullet points. In 2008, my sanity buckled under the pressure of a PowerPoint deck teeming with metrics and I didn’t just quit my job; I wholly relinquished my MBA-crowned career to play full-time on the food web."
Food Philosophy: "When most young girls were playing with Barbie dolls, Jennifer Iannolo was playing “food show” in front of her mother’s kitchen window (the camera). Now operating under the banner of the Culinary Media Network, founded by Jennifer and her business partner Chef Mark Tafoya, the site features audio and video programming — including the world’s first all-food podcast network — as well as articles, recipes and food blogs."
E*Star LA: "Esther, heretoforth referred to as e*star, works with money by day and cats by night. And food. And cocktails. And music. And nightlife. And fashion. Let’s say Los Angeles food and fun, shall we? Hailing from suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she is a Midwestern girl at heart having sought the bright city lights of Los Angeles for about the past twelve years. Five of those, she qualifies with the fact that she didn’t have a car and was busy finding herself inside the college bubble that is Westwood, California."
Uncouth Gourmands: "We are two budding entrepreneurs that share a love for food and a lack of etiquette. We are flavorful but rarely correctly seasoned. We are the type of people that go to a small plate restaurant and ask for a bigger plate. We stick an entire enormous roll of sushi in our mouths in one bite and prefer that to inhaling oxygen. We eat with our hands, have no qualms about plastic cutlery, and use chopsticks to fish pickles out of the jar while watching cooking shows. We believe that anything can be stuffed between two slices of bread or rolled up into a tortilla. We are not afraid of getting messy and sometimes we wait until we have something in our mouths to talk. "