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Show us your food porn (and who came up with that term, anyway?)

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Hey you, with the camera - stop pissing off the chefs. Take your camera back home for dinner, and enter our inaugural Sun-Times food photo contest!

We want to see your best food photos, shots you've taken of food you've cooked, photos that are going to make us hungry. Submit up to three photos at by May 12, for a chance to win a behind-the-scenes session with Chicago culinary photographer Stephen Hamilton (four runners-up will get some pretty sweet cookbooks).

Chances are, you've seen Hamilton's work without knowing it. He's shot for McDonald's, Starbucks, Quaker and Kraft. He'll be our judge for the contest, and having spent some time with him in his West Fulton studio, we can attest that the guy is the master at food porn.

A little trivia: Who came up with that phrase anyway?

"Julia Child -- that's what I always heard," Hamilton says.

We couldn't confirm that with Julia, obviously, but the first reference we could find to 'food porn' comes not from within the cooking or restaurant worlds, but from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The food police, if you will. The nutrition watchdog group has published a column called Food Porn in its Nutrition Action Healthletter since 1974, in which it pits a processed or packaged food against a nutritious one.

Executive director Michael Jacobson takes credit for coining the term.

"I think we were probably just figuring how we could lampoon junk foods and put it in Nutrition Action," he said. "And it's long been our readers' favorite part of the newsletter."

Speaking of junk food, that's another of Jacobson's phrases, "if you believe Wikipedia," he says. "I know historians have tried to track down the first use of the term and found those words coming out of my mouth or pen, but I suspect those words have been widely bandied about informally for a while. 'Empty calories' has also been attributed to me."

These days, "food porn" is playfully bandied about as a reference to impossibly luscious photos of food. Fish purveyor extraordinaire Carl Galvan posts links to "fish porn" all the time on his Twitter feed. But in Jacobson's world, the phrase still suggests what it always has -- "foods that are obscene, just shameful to have in the marketplace."

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Janet Rausa Fuller

Sun-Times Food editor Janet Rausa Fuller is always thinking about her next meal.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Janet Rausa Fuller published on April 28, 2010 9:28 AM.

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