Pleasing To The Eye, But Good for Food?

{Today I’m pleased to share another guest post from Tim, who has written for this blog before on due process and on the grace of taste.}

My wife and I like to watch Food Network shows like Iron Chef and Chopped, where chefs compete to see who makes the best meal.

Judges constantly mention that enjoying food starts with the eyes–an aspect so important that the scoring includes a high proportion of points specifically for presentation (or “plating”) of the food. If something does not look pleasing to the eye, the judges are sure to let the chefs know.
There’s a whole industry dedicated to making food look good. Food stylists work hard to make food look appetizing in magazine advertisements and TV commercials. I remember reading an article on it years ago. The writer revealed that one reason canned soups look so hearty and full of good ingredients in one company’s ads was because a stylist added things like marbles to the bowl of soup; this works well on camera, even though it might not fool anyone looking up close at the bowl in real life. Another trick they revealed concerned meat coming off the barbecue. Those great looking grill marks are from a length of hot steel carefully applied; the meat might even be raw and only painted to look cooked.

Recently, a sharp-eyed McDonald’s customer sent in a question to the corporate office in Canada asking the age-old question:

why do the burgers in the ads look better than the ones in the restaurant? The article video explain, giving good insights into how a food stylist and photographer can work together to make the food look appealing. One refreshing aspect is that McDonald’s insists the stylist and photographer use only the same ingredients that are used in the store. No fake additions allowed!

All of this reminded me of another place where I read about food that appeared pleasing to the eye:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:6.)

God had told Eve and Adam they could eat fruit from any tree but that one. They ate it anyway. Some might take this to mean that food appearing pleasing is evil but that can’t be true since this pleasing aspect of the appearance of food preceded the transgression. No, food is supposed to look good.

The real issue is what we do when we look upon food – or anything else God has put in our lives. Do we recognize God’s wonderful blessings in his provision for us? Or do we try to take what God has given for good and use it for something for which it was not intended?

We are not told explicitly what God’s purpose was for putting that tree in the Garden of Eden, but I think it’s safe to say God had one even if we don’t know what it is. (Psalm 33:11, Romans 8:28.) Happily, we do know God’s purpose for the food we eat now:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31.)

It’s like looking at food in magazine ads. Are you seeing the actual food ingredients, properly prepared as if being served for dinner? Or do they promise a hearty meal when what they are really showing is a bowl full of marbles?

It’s like looking at everything else around us, too–do we recognize God’s blessings and enjoy them for his glory, or do we grasp the fakes and frauds thinking that these look more pleasing?

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. (Psalm 34:8. Check out 1 Peter 2:2-3 also.)

Me, I’d rather taste the Real Thing.

Tim is a California native who changed his major three times, colleges four times, and took six years to get a Bachelor’s degree in a subject he’s never been called on to use professionally. Married for over 24 years with two kids now in college, his family is constant evidence of God’s abundant blessings in his life. He and his wife live in Northern California. Tim guest posts on other peoples’ blogs, but is too lazy to get a blog of his own.

13 thoughts on “Pleasing To The Eye, But Good for Food?

  1. Using Cat Cora’s pic is a bonus, Rachel! I love watching her cook and listening to her food insights. Thanks for adding her to the mix. Thanks too for giving me space here at your place today.

    Tim

  2. A recent book title got me thinking about this: “Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World.” I think that about sums it up. God gives us an incredible world, but we put stinky cheese on our noses and muddy-colored glasses on our eyes and refuse to see it. Let’s celebrate God’s provision. Well said, Tim.

    1. Thanks Nick. Mud-smeared glasses is a great metaphor when it comes to how we sometimes allow ourselves to view the world God created for us to be in.

      One prayer I’ve constantly had for my kids as they went to school is that what they learn each day will help them understand better the world God created, and to understand better the God who created it. Whether it’s a HS English class or a lecture from a poli sci professor at a public university or a biology lab led by a grad student, it’s all about God and his creation.

      Tim

  3. A fitting background to the post; Chopped is on as background noise as I read your words.

    The real is the truth, stripped of bells, whistles and marbles. Real isn’t always as snazzy as the fakery to which we’re all accustomed, whether it is a Pop Tart or a computer-generated crowd scene. It takes a different set of soul-tastebuds to savor the real than to crave the faux. Thanks for the reminder that the real is a gift and a reflection of the one who called himself both Truth and Life.

  4. Thanks Michelle. “Soul-tastebuds” If only I’d had that phrase when I wrote this thing!

    Tim

    P.S. Re computer generate crowd scene: I remember watching Wishbone years ago and they had a behind-the-scenes segment about filming a crowd scene. They had a limited number of extras to use, so they filmed them in different configurations in four carefully delineated quadrants of the area on camera, then brought the four shots together as one scene. Clever and indiscernible without the explanation, kind of like marbles in a magazine ad for soup.

  5. Tim, I somehow missed this yesterday. So glad I realized it this morning. What a great article to read before breakfast! My husband makes fun of me about plating. I love making the presentation look good for every meal–with real ingredients. Your article does a great job in giving proper warning, while at the same time encouraging us to enjoy to the glory of God.
    And I love that prayer for your kids! Totally stealing that one.

    1. “Totally stealing that one.” Might as well, since I’ve stolen tons of ideas from other parents.

      Matt may tease you about plating, but I bet he still enjoys the dickens out of your food!

      Tim

  6. Tim, I never really thought about how the visual appearance of the fruit on the tree might have been the temptation. (I always thought of it as a mental thing, forbidden and all). I just love the many implications and applications that are and can be drawn out from this point, beginning with our tendency as humans to prioritize image over word. Fascinating.

    1. Perhaps mental temptation may have been reinforced by the visual? I’ve sometimes wondered just how long Adam and Eve were in the Garden before this temptation occurred. It could have been years, centuries, longer, we just don’t know how long they lived with that tree in their midst before they decided to disobey God.

      Tim

      1. I definitely think that the visual appeal of the fruit is likely. A very “fruitful” thought. [Sorry …]🙂

      2. Ha! That reminds me of a sermon I heard a couple weeks ago on Galatians 5 and the Fruit of the Spirit. The speaker said we should look out for Fruity people.

  7. I’ve been really wondering a lot about the amazing blessings from the Lord lately and how we don’t always see it for how it really is and I actually liked to think that from how they photograph the burgers, they are using everything but push it forward to REALLY look at it. How often do we REALLY look at the things that we are consuming in our own lives? Great post, but I got my own perspective put in place by simply watching the burger advertising process. We need to take a closer look at the Word of God and know how juicy it really is.

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