Thursday, 10 November 2011

Real food?

The food industry offers further examples of simulation. My favourite example of this is Chicken Tikka.
The perception of Chicken Tikka as foreign and exotic is in fact a misconception, as the dish was actually invented in the UK – most probably Glasgow (BBC, 2009). This was an attempt by Indian restaurants to provide for the milder British taste. 

As this is now thought of by most people in the UK as a traditional Indian dish, it becomes more real than the reality of actual traditional Indian dishes – Baudrillard’s ‘hyper-real’.

This trend is apparent across a huge number of food types, as food hyperreal is killing off the real. For example, there was a Jamie Oliver show on channel 4 where he showed children a range of processed (burgers, hot-dogs etc) and unprocessed meats (e.g. a chicken carcass). The children identified the burgers as cow, or sausages as pork – but couldn’t guess correctly what animal the unprocessed chicken was. 

This example is again apparent if we consider fruit. As genetic modification of fruit grows, we are beginning to view ‘real’ apples as weird looking or unappetising – instead wanting the ‘perfect’ hyperreal ones. I imagine a few hundred years ago there were no apples that looked like this:

And more that looked like this:
But let us think back further. Are braeburns, for example, real? In fact, they are the product of earlier methods of breeding that entirely changed apples. This is another key point from Baudrillard – sometimes what we think is real, when contrasted with new simulations, are in fact simulations themselves! The new simulations provide an alibi for the previous simulations. 

Baudrillard’s example of this is Disney Land. Disney Land acts as an alibi for the rest of America. The rest of America, too, ‘is Disney land’ he says – that is, the rest of America is also a fantasy world detached from the real – there is childish behaviour and fakery all over America. But because Disney Land is another layer on top of this, we start thinking America is the real. 

Simulation is not about what signs are real – not about: is Disney Land real? Are apples real? Is Chicken Tikka real? Instead, it is about masking the fact that the real is not real. 

I don’t want to get too far into the wider conclusions just yet – I’ll save them for a  final post on all this – now with examples from the adult entertainment industry, computer games industry and food industry I have plenty material to draw conclusions from.


  1. No no no final posts on this. It is endless. Keep going.

    Stolen in homeopathic doses like chicken tikka.

    The Perfect Crime

    I love love your blog. You are so clear. Have you read Diane Rubenstein's This Is Not A President. She does the same as you through American presidents and Hillary of course.

    "floating signs"

    I had a flash of insight today. DeLillo's Cosmopolis is a "floating sign" of a novel. I have been reading it through so many authors, films, books, Freud, Rand, until I realized there really is no end of the ways one can read Cosmopolis through. I will only finish writing about it when I reach the end of everything I know and have read and seen and heard, but by then there will be new stuff to read it through. And everyone can read it differently even though it is the same novel. Actually a person could read this book and never read any other as it will always be new. Like the Bible is read by some.

  2. Please do another one soon. You are so good.

  3. OK your vacation has lasted long enough. Please please come back. You are too good at this to with hold.