Real Food: Martin Parr Captures How Different Nations Eat

Courtesy of Martin Parr/Magnum Photos
With the rise of Instagram and food blogging, we’re inundated with stylish shots of artfully arranged plates. And just look at those M&S adverts. Food porn is all around us.

With that in mind, Martin Parr’s new book Real Food might come as a bit of a surprise. There’s no crispy roast chickens and wild leaf salads here. This is, well, real food. Egg and chips, Spam, and ice cream is pictured in all its refined and processed glory. It’s quite the opposite of #eatingclean.

The book is supposed to act as a “global snapshot of everyday life” and through his lens, Parr comments on a nation’s identity by featuring their dinner plates. There are over 30 locations on offer including Japan, Spain, Australia and, of course, the UK. The book even comes with a wipe clean cover and is designed like the red gingham tablecloths found in cafes around the globe.

The acclaimed chef Fergus Henderson writes in the book’s introduction that “a nose-to-tail lunch at St. John does not shy away from the nature of meat, but in these pages, meat is depicted mainly in the safe processed form of the sausage.” He likens Parr’s shots with “that of the naughty seaside postcard.”

When asked if the title of the book was a deliberate comment on the over-stylised images of food we’ve come to expect, Parr told us: “Yes, one motive is to puncture the food porn we are all surrounded by.” He prefers vulgar and garish food simply because “it’s more photogenic.”

It might not have you smacking your lips as much as a flick through Nigella’s latest, but we can all agree that is is certainly more fun.

Martin Parr: Real Food is available now, £14.95, Phaidon