Back in the days before the dominance of television, the internet, and social media, finding inspiration was an awful lot harder.
Whether we wanted to pick up the now increasingly cool hobby of knitting our own winter woollies or work on a new recipe for our next dinner party, we had to search high and low for ideas, rifling through the pages of books to seek out our much-sought-after knowledge.
The world we live in today is a very different place, one that is massively influenced by what we see on our screens – television, computer, and mobile alike. Although there are some who may bemoan such changes, most embrace them, and the many exciting opportunities they present.
One place that we can see the impact of this is in our eating habits. Although a number of studies, the most recent of them in 2016, have shown that we’re more interested in watching food on TV than we are in cooking it ourselves, there is also evidence to suggest that we see on the television is shaping our selections too…
An increasingly popular entertainment genre
Here in the UK, there are few who would deny our home-grown love of cookery shows. As we move ever further into the 21st century, on-screen chefs are nothing short of new-era celebrity icons, recipe books fly off the shelves within days of their release, and we spend hours every week glued to our televisions and engrossed by other people’s exotic concoctions.
With this in mind, it may not surprise you to learn that we now spend more time consuming ‘food media’ than we do cooking – five hours a week for the former, and four for the latter. From scrolling through our Instagram feeds for foodie accounts to reading through Deliveroo’s blog for the best booze around, the average adult devotes more time to looking at videos and images online and on-screen than they do to making their daily meals.
So who is responsible for this boom in entertainment value? Unsurprisingly, The Great British Bake Off, whose November 2017 finale drew a record-breaking 7.7 million viewers, Masterchef, and Come Dine with Me all rank highly with regards to their television followings, with Saturday Kitchen and The Hairy Bikers Cookbook both following close behind.
Oddly enough considering this exceptional degree of interest, under half of us are inspired to try and cook what we see being concocted on screen, and over a fifth of people have never actually made an evening meal from scratch.
Despite this, there is still one tangible and arguably positive side effect of our love affair with cookery shows: they’re shaping our tastes by exposing us to new ingredients and dishes and encouraging us to try them, a big plus point in the eyes of writer and expert Michael Pollan.
From Thai tapas to tuna niçoise, we’re refining our taste in food, in fancy afternoon teas, and in the culinary experience in general.
We’re becoming more willing to experiment, happier to broaden our horizons, and arguably more eager to try new and exotic delights that will tickle our taste buds and expand our exploratory palettes. Now, who could criticise that?