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New Spectator Sport: Eating

Written By Scott Joseph On December 8, 2016

Social eating

Well, this is kind of odd.

There is a phenomenon in Korea that involves watching people eat. That is, live streaming video of people tucking into a meal. Because of the live nature, people watching it can interact with via messages that can flow Twitter-like on the screen, and the eater can respond verbally if she or he wants to. It’s called mukbang, which combines the word for eating (meokneun) with the word for broadcast (bangsong).

Like I said, it’s kind of odd.

So of course it’s now catching on in the U.S., and here it’s referred to as social eating. Twitch, a website that began as a platform to watch people play video games has taken up the social eating cause. You can watch live or you can watch recorded programs.

Southeast LG 2 24

Social eating 3

One video that attempted to explain the phenomenon said that while there are many shows dedicated to cooking, few spend any time with the actual eating, other than a bite or two by the host who might give a small moan and declare the food delicious before signing off.

With social eating, you don’t necessarily see the preparation of the food, just the consumption of it.

In Orlando there is a food blog called Watch Me Eat, but aside from a profile photo of an open mouth in disturbing close up that serves as a sort of logo for the site, there aren’t any actual views of food insertion that I’m aware of.

And as surprised as I am that people would want to sit in front of a computer screen and watch people eating food they can’t themselves partake in, I’m just as stunned that there are people who would want total strangers to stare at them while they eat, usually alone in a room.

As someone who eats professionally, and out in public, I’m constantly aware that I may be under surveillance as I eat the food that I will eventually write about and critique. A little sauce dribbling down the chin or a forkful of salad that needs a little extra push to make it all the way into the mouth. Not pretty but pretty embarrassing.

But maybe I’m missing out on the new trend. Maybe I don’t need to wait until I leave the restaurant, go back home, mull about the experience then sit down to compile my thoughts into a structured review.

Maybe I should just live stream the meal, post it online and move on.

What do you think? Do you like to watch other people eat? Would you like to be the star of your own food-stuffing tv show?

I’d love to hear your comments.

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