It's Okay if the Camera Eats First: Here's Why it Matters
Asia/ Delish/ People

Your Camera Should Eat First, and Here's Exactly Why It Matters

Your Camera Should Eat First and Heres Exactly Why Iit Matters

I eat out a lot. I have rendered this practice both a job and a passion to dine often in Hong Kong and Asia’s restaurant scene. To date, I have dined at more than 550 restaurants in the city at the time of writing.

I like dining by myself for lunches, sharing intimate dinners with friends during the week, and enjoying the company of a couple for weekends. My eating habits have become instinctively ritualised since the beginnings of my food reportage at The Beat Asia in late 2021.

Prior to tackling a meal occurs a prime ritual, one that I don’t dare shack: camera eats first. My phone likes to feast its digital eyes on my plate before I man myself with utensils to eat. Our region and much of the world dictate a meal beginning with this vital ritual. Here’s why I will always let my camera eat first, and why it matters. 

Your Camera Should Eat First, and Here's Exactly Why Iit Matters

Food is more than just sustenance. The privilege of treating oneself at a restaurant is an experience that many may not otherwise receive at home. I hold great memories of the meals cooked by others and served to me, moods once felt strongly, jokes I’ll remember forever, flavours only savoured occasionally, and life episodes defined by one date in time.

If I want to relay a nostalgic experience of dining, one of good memory, I bring myself to my camera roll and glance at the plates of food once served to me, now forever kept on my iPhone. Would I seriously want to forget any of the 21 meals I enjoyed in a week? 84 in a month? 1,095 in a year? All that eating and no memories of what I ingested and enjoyed?

Can you imagine a world without the camera eating first? It would be dire, I tell you. Imagine Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare reviews without pictures to support real life experiences of a restaurant, whether great or horrible. I don’t trust words to tell me how tasty a bowl of noodles is. I want to see colour, texture, shape, life!

Your Camera Should Eat First, and Here's Exactly Why Iit Matters

Imagine a New York Times write-up and Michelin Guide restaurant submission, but the author’s pictures are absent. Words are a powerful tool to direct emotions from the eater to the reader, but pictures fill that gap left out by sensing the beauty. A fiction tale can be narrated in thousands of words, but food is meant to be seen, eaten, and appreciated with all senses.

The camera eating first is vital to breed a culture around the act of eating, namely, the act of critique and enjoyment. In Hong Kong, a city like any other in the world, the local food scene holds unique gems, but is rife with fakes, imitators, and hypers. The camera is a tool to tell a tale as old as journalism itself: what lies behind the veil of appearance.

Your Camera Should Eat First, and Here's Exactly Why Iit Matters

My role as a reporter of food in Asia is to direct our readers' attention to real gems in the market. My food advice carries authority in my circles and helps support restaurants in need of promotion. But my camera, filled with hundreds of pictures, supports a culture that is as important as society itself.

Humans are culture-bearing species. We root our identity in community and heritage. We design our lives around the act of eating. Without cameras to take pictures of food and share the creations we can enjoy, consumption would be rendered simply an act of biology. Eating for energy. My camera eats first, and that matters.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this op-ed are solely the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the publication.

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