In praise of not always photographing your food

Do you know the unfettered loveliness of going out and having a meal without Instagramming everything you shove into your gaping maw? (Or don’t shove, in the case of some of London’s more notorious lifestyle bloggers, who like to give the impression that they’re stuffing their face every other day while simultaneously squeezing into very small pairs of jeans.) Well, I do, just recently, and it’s really nice.

I started a new job a few months ago and since then I’ve barely had time to shit. Eating out has gone from an everyday occurrence to a rare treat, so now when I am out for dinner, all I want to do it hook a nice bottle glass of Viognier to my veins and savour something – anything – that isn’t half a carton of microwaved Covent Garden soup. Indeed, the last thing I want to do is fanny around with my Big Camera, something I’ve always suspected other people are (justifiably) laughing at, or spend the journey home trying to wittily articulate how I feel about jus.

So over the last few months I have been going to restaurants and immediately eating what’s put in front of me with gay abandon, with absolutely zero thoughts or fucks to give about taking a nice photograph or writing something up. I have had so much nice wine with my dinners that all I’ve known about the food I’m eating is that it’s delicious. Admittedly, coming home absolutely shitfaced has its own challenges; I am a bit of a spendy drunk and like to back obscure Kickstarter board games, or send large boxes of Whiskas to the Scratching Post cat shelter, or buy web domains I will never use. (This is why I’m now the proud owner of www.foodc* Without the asterisk. Yes, it redirects here.)

And it’s been great. I’ve been to Honest Burger and tried its amazing vegan collab with Beyond Meat, which has just this week been rolled out at restaurants across town. I got a gang of us together to visit the new Gunpowder, whose luscious soft-shell crab reduced us all to quivering, gibbering messes, and a few weeks later I schlepped across town for lunch at the new Kricket in White City, another phenomenal modern Indian restaurant where I delight-dribbled all over myself afresh. Mike and I got leglessly drunk and went into John Lewis afterwards with the intention of buying a new mattress, but ended up coming away with a £450 hoover (!?) which is why I hate daytime drinking. (I.e. because I’m a knob.)

One of my oldest pals and I went to El Pastor in London Bridge on a whim, which was a genius move because it was tremendously good value and, more importantly, sells guacamole alongside huge crunchy chicharróns with proper heft to them. Given the time and the will, I can confidently say I could club someone to death with one in, oh, six or seven hours. God bless the Mexicans for legitimising pork scratchings as a dipper, that’s what I say. And here we are in Blighty, using celery to dip in things like mugs.

I’ve eaten zebra and kangaroo at Soho’s new Gamma Gamma restaurant (though admittedly I was invited to review this one a few weeks later by their PR company, so I will be writing that one up. It’s interesting.) I took my mother to lunch at the wonderful Shackfuyu, popped down to Peckham for London’s best bao (don’t @ me) and also paid a mildly horrifying £80 at Shoreditch House for a couple of cocktails, half a pizza and half a goat curry. I feel compelled to say that this was not my suggestion or recommendation, but I have a pal with a membership who is out to get his money’s worth, so we went. Fortunately, the company was many hundred times better than the food. Quite good cocktails though.

All this isn’t to say that I’m going to stop blogging, or taking pictures of my food completely, or even enjoying other people’s pictures. In fact, everything I see on Instagram is food, dogs and cats (damn you Scratching Post), and I get a lot of pleasure out of it. God knows what I used to do on the toilet before social media. But my time out has reminded me to be a bit less obsessive and enjoy the luxury of eating out for what it is: leaving the house and making effort with good food and good company.

NB: I am aware of the irony of posting this alongside a photo of a chocolate brownie. I had to put something there, didn’t I, you bastards.

Author: Emily Gibson

Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.