Make Ugly Food
September 29, 2016 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Make Ugly Food
We need to embrace ugly food, whether it's food that starts out ugly or a meal that collects ugly along the way. This blog celebrates ugly food. The food is delicious, but not always photogenic.

The notion that cookbooks contain only camera-ready food has bothered me for a while. I grew up on ugly food (sorry, Mom); I know a lot of other people did, too.

I love making things that look good, too, don't get me wrong. But ugly is such a neglected food category. And it shouldn't be that way.

"Make Ugly Food" is a call to recognize that the dishes shown online and in cookbooks do not reflect the way we make and enjoy food in our day-to-day lives.
Role: writer/photographer
posted by veggieboy (11 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

You may be too talented for your own good but I think all of the food you've photographed is beautiful. I guess I was expecting something more like this.
posted by the webmistress at 11:38 AM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ha! Well, I promise you're the first person to suggest that I might be too talented for my own good.

I think it all goes to the disconnect between what people really eat and what's portrayed in food media. So, would I eat these things and do I think they look good? Absolutely. The photography is pretty good. The lighting is flattering. And yet they all fall short of the conventional, too-perfect or just-imperfect-enough cookbook photography paradigm where crumbs are placed with tweezers and too many things are garnished.

Maybe it's a bit about stretching the definition of "ugly" to encompass things that aren't unappetizing per se, but are not conventionally beautiful by the standards of, say, cookbooks.

And, of course, I think you can have nice photos of "ugly" food. No one said monotone food had to be photographed in bad lighting.

There's a little more about it here: Ugly Is Not a Four-Letter Word.*
posted by veggieboy at 12:07 PM on September 29, 2016

So a nice version of Cook Suck? (which I can't seem to Google anymore)
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:01 PM on September 29, 2016

Is that

I hadn't heard of that site before, but it looks like it's more along the lines of finger-pointing and LOLZ FAIL, whereas this is about celebrating imperfections and being happy with something that's delicious and not food-styled to within an inch of its life.
posted by veggieboy at 4:18 AM on September 30, 2016

Are you taking suggestions? My favorite ugly food has got to be South Carolina hash & rice.
posted by Wobbuffet at 6:14 PM on September 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Maybe you're really celebrating imperfect food? Which I think is awesome. It's still beautiful, just beautiful with spots...
posted by amtho at 12:37 PM on October 1, 2016

Yeah, amtho. It's "ugly" if you approach it from the aesthetic and perspective of, say, professional food media. But to most people it's probably just imperfect or, you know, normal.

And I did write about that. But I can see from some of the reaction that it's probably not really coming across. My fault.
posted by veggieboy at 1:02 PM on October 1, 2016

Your photos are lovely. I think you are best hitting your point* with the oatmeal, although that looks like pretty fancy oatmeal.

*My takeaway, mostly from your words here, is that you are going for "real food is sometimes boring to look at" ... ie, a not-quite-a-breakfast burrito weeknight dinner (more like "scrambled egg tacos with cheese"), aesthetically, is a pretty unexciting plate of mid-tones yellow/beige, and any extra items are concealed inside. But if such food ever made it into a food blog, it would be glistening with precisely arrayed salsa and cilantro on the outside. As if that's how anyone in reality would plate such a meal. As if anyone eating such a meal reliably uses a plate...
posted by janell at 11:54 PM on October 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to comment. It's pretty clear I would need to rejigger things for people to see what I'm getting at.
posted by veggieboy at 8:14 AM on October 5, 2016

The food may be less than perfect in appearance, but the photographs are beautiful. It's possible to take beautiful pictures of unbeautiful things, which is what I think you're doing here. (See also r/AbandonedPorn, one of my favorite subreddits).
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:31 AM on October 21, 2016

This doesn't appear to be active at the moment? Would be curious to see the photogenic ugly food. Everything I cook looks like dog food if you need contributors.
posted by J.R. Hartley at 12:39 PM on October 26, 2016

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