Sticky and sweet salted caramel slides down a beautiful woman’s face in tantalizing rivulets. Sultry smoky-lidded eyes and long lashes serve as a ledge for drops of the unique sweet and stray caramel rests on pillowy pink lips. Her hands are cradling her blissed-out face and truly tell the story of her “love affair with salted caramel”. If you are finding yourself having mixed and confusing emotions about the picture, do not worry. It is a purposeful attempt to tap into a person’s lust for not only rich food, but the desire for satisfying sex. Pyschology and biology has proven that humans are unconsciously relating food with sex and vice versa.
The picture above showcases, as the media has dubbed her, the “Queen of Food Porn”, food personality Nigella Lawson covered in her favorite confection, salted caramel. It is meant to be an edgy and artistic photograph, but it does invoke certain naughty thoughts, as intended. This is one example of “food porn” or a way of arranging food that is similar to techniques used by pornographic film makers and photographers. The end result is to connect the primal urges for food and sex into a seamless image. The concept of food porn developed in the mid-1980’s, when people began to see the risky behavior of unprotected sex and transferred their cravings for sex onto food. Since then the concept has evolved. Everything that is deemed naughty or excessive by the Western world, such as high caloric foods, expensive alcoholic drinks, and complicated cooking techniques has come into vogue. Shifting back to Nigella Lawson and her mannerisms, she is the perfect example of the modern foodist and sexuality. She is unabashed about the nutritional content of her meals. She flirts with the camera as she shows the viewer a rare sight; a woman simply enjoying food and viewing it as something other than fuel for the body. However, she is not the first food personality to do this. The Food Network has admitted to using the same filming techniques that is utilized in porn in order to entice viewers and raise ratings. Time has shown that this method has worked, even if it does mess with our subconscious a little bit. It is however, not the only way the masses appreciate food. Admiration of food is just a small section of the spectrum that food and sexuality encompasses.
On the kinkier end of the spectrum is the idea of “food play”. This term covers a variety of sexual and food related activities that people that identify with “sitophilia” or a fetish in which participants are aroused by food, would enjoy. The one that has received the most media exposure via HBO’s Real Sex and a CSI: NY episode is “sploshing”. Alternatively known as “wet and messy”, it is a fetish in which participants are covered in either messy or liquid substances, most often food, in a sexual manner. This usually involves being covered in items such as whipped cream, fruit juice, chocolate sauce, caramel, and many other foods. Another facet of the food play kink is the concept of nyotaimori. This practice involves using a naked person as a serving dish for several pieces of sushi while strangers dine on the offered pieces. While it has come under fire for violating health codes and objectifying the person serving as the platter, many people consider it an erotic art form that combines appreciation of food and the human form.
Of course, there are tamer variants of food play, such as taking a body shot off an erogenous zone or using phallic or sheath shaped food, such as a banana or a pie for either insertion, as illustrated in movies like American Pie. There is an entire market for couples wanting to spice up their life with candy created lingerie and sex-friendly whipped cream, once again inviting their partner to lick and nibble succulent flesh and see the body as a feast to be devoured. Honestly, feeding each other food is considered enough to spark the appetite for good food and an interesting night. Whether food play is kinky or vanilla, it all comes down to the endorphins, similar to the ones released when enjoying a pleasing meal.
There is certainly more to be covered about this subject, as seen with food as euphemisms in songs and the role of gender in food studies. Exploration of this is useless without acknowledging the strong relationship between food, sex, and how people use it in their daily lives. As the legendary Giacomo Casanova has written, “…sex is like eating and eating is like sex: it is nourishment”.