“Back in my day, we used to eat our food, not take pictures of it,” your grandma (possibly) once said as you made everyone wait for you to Instagram the dinner plates on the table.
But it turns out her statement, much like her opinion on the Internet, lard and cigarettes, is wrong. Instead, our fascination with visually recording our food predates camera phones by centuries. As Science Daily reports, a new study shows that not only have humans been obsessed with extravagant foods for ages, we’ve also included them in an inordinate number of paintings and works of art for at least the last five centuries.
Finally, the origin of #FoodPorn is revealed.
Examining works of art from the last several centuries, the study found that indulgent foods of the past, like shellfish, bread, sausages, bread, salt and bread, were the most commonly included foods in paintings. (Seriously, so much bread.)
Out of 36 works of art from the Renaissance Period, nearly 61 percent included meat and 86 percent included bread. Vegetables didn’t fare so well, appearing in only about 22 percent of the paintings. As researcher Brian Wansink, Ph.D., Director of Cornell Food and Brand Lab concluded, “Paintings…were loaded with the foods modern diets warn us about.”
Another interesting note from the study is that many of the foods that show up most frequently in the paintings weren’t those widely available to the masses at the time: Lobster made numerous appearances, artichokes tallied more depictions than other vegetables, and lemons turned up more than any other fruit. According to researchers behind the study, those items represented the aspirational nature and #goals of early foodie painters.
All this is to say the next time you pull out your phone in the middle of a restaurant to make a record of your entrée, don’t let anyone tell you you’re being rude: You’re simply following in the footsteps of the great Renaissance painters. And maybe one day you—or your descendants—will get to cash in.
Long live the arts.
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