Food Porn

Do you remember the days of the Huisgenoot magazine? I mean before we had the You. That thing was a staple in the life of South African families everywhere. It was there before I was born, like Queen Elizabeth II of England. Always, always there. It will probably be there one day when I’m six feet under the sod. I remember the advertising jingle that must have played on the radio or on television: Tuis in elke huis … die Huisgenoot! I still remember the tune.

The legacy of the advertising in Huisgenoot has pervaded current South African culture. There is something decidedly graphic about those large photographs of fat, juicy hamburgers and long pink hot dogs to advertise a particular brand of bright mustard. Or what about the ad for Robertson’s cinnamon that features a wobbly slice of ouma se melktert? That tradition of the realistic photograph that’s really, really meant to convince you about something is alive and well. Think of the Mugg and Bean menu with its up-close-and-graphic photo of a slice of lemon meringue pie.

Perhaps we’ve taught the rest of the world something. Have you seen the cooking shows on DSTV? Has anyone ever ogled food in the history of the planet the way the Americans and the British do? There’s no way that oddball Fanny Craddock or frumpy Delia Smith ever did anything like that. And it’s probably because their heyday was during the dark years of apartheid and isolation of South Africa. Perhaps this is the secret legacy that we’ve passed on to the West: how to make food pornographic. Who knows?

 

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