Carol Hunt: It's time to take food pictures off of the menu
Published 22/02/2014 | 10:58
PICTURE it. You've been looking forward to the meal out with friends for months.
You've saved the cash, booked the babysitter, skipped lunch and your mouth is just salivating at the thought of the gastronomic delight you'll order.
The moment arrives, a plate of steaming deliciousness is placed in front of you; you look up to check that everyone else is digging in as excitedly as you and...what's that? Nobody's even taken up a fork yet?
No. Instead they're all scrambling around in their bags and pockets, getting their phones out and taking pictures of the food.
What sort of new tribal custom is this? Are they ever going to just tuck in, enjoy the meal and perhaps chat about its merits with the people they're sitting beside?
Nope. They're busy getting the best angle on the plate of prosciutto-wrapped scallops -- the sundried pesto on top or to the side?
Oh thank god, they've stopped snapping -- maybe now you can all settle down and eat? But no -- they're not finished.
Now they're composing witty comments to accompany the photos and posting them up on Facebook and so that the saddos sitting at home with a cheese toastie can be suitably envious.
Mortifyingly pretentious comments like; "Apple soaked coriander and lime marinated medallions of pork with paprika sweet potatoes on the side! Yum!!" are posted with a dimly lit picture of said gourmet treat.
Obviously, the fabulousness of the person posting the pic must be confirmed. "OMG that looks, like, so awesome! Wish I was there!!" tweets back Mary, who's home alone, flicking between The Voice and Game of Thrones.
"Wow! You're so lucky!" comments Fred, making do with a ham sambo and Top Gear.
Awesomeness confirmed; your fellow diners pick up their forks and focus on the secondary task of actually eating their food. It's now half cold and after the photo frenzy, the tasting is an anti-climax.
I used to think I was in the minority of people driven stark raving mad by this truly annoying habit but this week I find I am in good company.
A group of French chefs are threatening to ban cameras and mobile phones from their restaurants. Alexandre Gauthier, chef at the Grenouillere restaurant in La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil, has even added a picture of a camera with a line through it to his menu.
They want people to eat their food and not take photos of it as "it takes away the surprise". In New York, some restaurants have banned people from taking photos.
Surely, it can't be long before Irish restaurants follow suit? "But it's good publicity!" I hear those guilty of Instagramming every morsel say, "We're doing them a favour". Eh, no you're not.
Not only are chefs fed up with you putting filter-heavy pictures of food they've slaved over on social media, you may also have a bigger problem.
According to experts, taking lots of photos of food can indicate mental health problems. Dr Valerie Taylor, at the Canadian Obesity summit last year said; "food pornography and social media activity can anticipate unhealthy weight disorders. We take pictures of things that are important to us, and for some people, the food itself becomes central and the rest -- the venue, the company, etc -- is background".
There you have it. Taking pictures of your food to post online makes you fat and indicates you have social problems. As well as driving everyone nuts. So stop doing it. Now.