Social media is filled with photos of decadent meals, each filter making them seem more vibrant, or more classic. However, this new Internet craze is not a new thing. It seems that photographing food is just our version of the lavish Renaissance paintings that depicted mouth-watering meals.
Brian Wansink, Director of the Cornell Brand and Food Laboratory, declared that craving a fatty meal is not a modern Western trend. Judging from the composition of oil paintings dating back over 600 years, researchers discovered that meals containing plenty of meat, salt, and white bread were very popular.
Ever since the Renaissance period, people liked to create a display when they indulged themselves with rare treats such as lobster, lemons, artichokes, or white bread. That’s why most of the paintings that date from that period featured at least one of the above-mentioned ingredients.
“Crazy meals involving less-than-healthy foods aren’t a modern craving. Paintings from what’s sometimes called the Renaissance Period were loaded with the foods modern diets warn us about – salt, sausages, bread, and more bread.”
In order to see just how far the “food porn” obsession goes back in time, researchers gathered a sample of 750 paintings from the last 500 years, focusing on 140 works of art that were depicting family meals.
From the smaller sample, 36 dated from the Renaissance period. After doing a census of the ingredients, the team discovered that a whopping 86 percent featured a slice or a loaf of bread, 61 percent had one type of meat (be it sausage, steak, or fish) and only 22 percent showed at least a vegetable.
Interestingly enough, the most common foods featured in the artworks were ingredients that were hard to come by at the time. It seems that the artists preferred to paint lemons, shellfish, lobster, and artichokes.
The reasons for this unique preferences were, most probably, the desire of transmitting a sense of indulgence to the reader, paired with the need of creating something aesthetically pleasing.
“Our love affair with visually appealing, decadent, or status foods is nothing new. It was already well-established 500 years ago,” Wansink declared.
The cited study was published this week in the Sage Open magazine.
Image source: Wikipedia