70s dinner party food: If only we’d had Instagram back then

This was the era of the showboat dinner party, where the upwardly mobile British family would invite peers and colleagues into their homes in a bid to wow them via high-voltage, brightly coloured three-course extravaganzas. It was a time of meals that didn’t just taste out of this world, they looked out of this world, too. In the current climate of clean-eating, social media fascism, the 70s seem to signify a happier, more honest time. We want something that has the balls to be shamelessly, completely and proudly crap. We want a good, old-fashioned 70s dinner party.

Read the full story here

The book 70s Dinner Party by Anna Pallai is published by Vintage. Buy it here.

Click plate: how Instagram is changing the way we eat

The annual Waitrose food and drink report, released on Wednesday, focuses on the way in which food has become social currency thanks to how we share and discuss it online. It is impossible to wade through the quagmire of social media without segueing into virtual treasure troves of #foodporn, #instafood and proudly #delicious content. According to the report, one in five Brits has shared a food photo online or with our friends in the past month. We have managed to forge what looks like a rare pure corner of social media, where pleasure is the order of the day. No matter the poster or the politics, food shines bright as something that all of us can aspire to, if only we curate our lives and our diets carefully enough.

Read the full story here

Gucci ad banned over ‘unhealthily thin’ model

The offending Gucci ad
The offending Gucci ad

Guccio Gucci, the parent company of the fashion brand, and the Times said that that the idea of an unhealthily thin model was to some extent a “subjective issue”. The fashion company said that the models had “slim builds” but were not depicted as “unhealthily thin”. The images were shot to make sure none of the models’ bones were visible, which would accentuate thinness, and light rather than heavy makeup was used to stop the potential accentuation of thinness in features. The ASA disagreed, saying that the ad irresponsibly showed a model with a body that was disproportionate and overly thin

I’m not sure how anyone could ‘subjectively’ arrive at the conclusion that this model looks fit and healthy. Still – job done. Their ad has now been seen everywhere that reported the story. Maybe it would be overly cynical to suggest this was the intention – shame on anyone who would suggest such a thing…

Read the full story here

Instant film and a record player were top sellers on Amazon for the holidays

Apparently, the biggest sellers on Amazon’s US site this Christmas were a turntable and film for an instant camera.

Why? The Verge’s Jacob Kastrenakes has a theory:

Is it weird that cheap analog products beat out modern alternatives? Kind of. But as someone who ordered a physical book and a pack of film just yesterday, none of this seems too hard to explain away. Jensen’s turntable is a low-cost way to get someone started with vinyl, which is growing in popularity right now very much because of its analog and anachronistic qualities; plus, with built-in speakers, there’s no need for a full stereo setup alongside it, either. And while I’m surprised to hear that Fuji’s Instax Mini line has such a following, it’s worth remembering that these products have a lot less competition than any individual digital camera or home speaker — since there are fewer products to pick between, the ones that do exist are going to capture more sales.

If you want to get into something, it’s always helpful if the cost of entry is low, so the risk is low. Tom Kelley, in The Art Of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, talks about another aspect which is ease of entry. He noticed that fishing was overly complicated for kids to get in to but, more importantly, their parents hadn’t fished as kids and so didn’t know how to teach their own children. So he designed a one-piece fishing rod that meant kids could quickly try it out and, if they liked it, get more involved in it.

Vinyl seems easy enough – buy a record, put it on the record player. But like those non-fishing parents, if you’ve not got a record player in the house, you need to buy one and then you’re into a different territory. As the Not The Nine O’Clock News sketch above makes painfully clear. Same with photography. No one wants to look like an idiot, so make it easy. The fact we all have cameras on us now hasn’t dampened the interest in photography, but increased it. So if camera shops want to capitalise on that, make it less baffling to take the next step.

Carry on cooking: the crazy culinary world of 1970s and 80s cookbooks

Original photography by Philip Pace. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian
Original photography by Philip Pace. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

Andrew Webb gets nostalgic for cookery books – and the photography that went with them – from the 1970s and 80s.

I am tired of identikit distressed boho-chic cookbooks. They’re all the same: full-colour shots, top down, naturally lit, and faux-rustic in style. Rewind to the 1970s and 80s and there were no rules. With limited budgets and costly printing technology, cookery books were groundbreaking in their photography, design and layout, if not necessarily their ingredients. Food styling was in its infancy, and consisted of creating a mise en scène for many dishes rather than just one, often with hilarious results.

Read the full story here