Oooo, ahhh, it's time for food porn

By Pauline D. Loh ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-02-28 08:24:24

How on earth can they get diners to stop taking photos of their food before eating? Placing a curt reminder on the menu, or stopping an excited customer from pointing his phone at his plate may alienate him and invite negative feedback.

An evil comment can go viral in the few minutes the irate customer calls for the bill. Tact, diplomacy and skillful conflict management are becoming the next necessary skills at the culinary institutes.

On the other hand, social media has also encouraged cooking and baking at home, because it offers the home chef an opportunity to share achievements and invite admiration. My WeChat account is flooded with tantalizing food shots all the time and many document the efforts of the novice cooks.

In China, especially, this is a positive trend.

With so many people migrating to the urban centers to study, work and live, many young people have lost the art of cooking and any attempt to cook at home should be enthusiastically encouraged.

Social media is also a place where these young folks share the flavors of home. During the recent Spring Festival break, photos of many regional dishes were posted online as China's workforce took its annual holiday back home. Many proudly showed off the delicacies of their native village or city and showcased special dishes that are eaten only during the Lunar New Year.

This country is rich in culinary heritage and with increasing urbanization, much of it is being eroded by the invasion of foreign cuisines and fast-food chains. Being able to post food photos online helps young people stay loyal to this heritage and cultivate pride and identity.

As for the poor chefs who wring their hands and toss their toques in despair, perhaps a gentle reminder at the table will work. This is where your service staff will come in handy.

Otherwise, live with it.

Smartphones will only get smarter, and as the global village expands its borders, a food shot posted online will be seen by countless people in many countries. It's your choice whether it will be a good or bad experience.

As the Chinese say, color, aroma, flavor and presentation are crucial to the eating experience and all dishes must start by looking good.

Related: On the glory road home

Looking back, looking ahead

Pony tales for the new year

For more Chinese Whispers, please click here.

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