by An Vu
Over the last two days, my cousin Nguyen Phuong Ly, 22, has been complaining about her mother Nguyen Ngoc Diep, a restaurant owner, for spending a lot of her cooking time posting pictures of fully-done food on various social network sites.
"In normal course, we have dinner at 7pm after mom finishes her work and comes to the kitchen. She usually makes quick and simple but nutritious dishes that take half an hour or even less. But of late, the process has begun taking more than an hour. As we wait, starving, she is busy decorating and taking photos of the food (the dishes) with so much of joy and patience," says Ly about her mom's hobby.
Lately, alongside fads storming Facebook, such as posting selfies, showing off nice bodies, private properties and kids, a section of young mothers have found a new interest: uploading high quality photos of home-cooked food. No wonder, the number of food groups is rocketing day by day, with up to thousand members in every group.
"Since my mom become a member of the social group 'Moms Who Love To Cook', she devotes more of her time, mind and energy to making a perfect dinner, then spends more time garnishing and setting up the table. Sadly, she makes those dishes for people in the virtual world for others to contemplate and comment, not for us.
"By the time she finishes, the food has already gone cold. Still, we are not allowed to eat before she arranges and photographs her finished product. What she is making these days is no longer that simple; instead, it requires more steps to have those sparkling artistic pictures," adds Ly.
But Diep thinks differently. As a mother of three, she found taking pictures of food a new inspiration for her tedious way of life.
"It has become a part of my daily life. If I do not do it, I cannot help but feel my day will not be complete or fulfilling. Sometimes, I feel very exhausted to cook so much, but when I read all the comments of other members, I feel so proud that I forget all the tiredness," Diep says.
Like any other trend, taking photos of food and drink and posting them on visual world is receiving more and more attention from young women. Alongside, participating in a cooking group is also an ideal way to help young wives and single women to become more skilful and active in preparing a delicious meal for their husbands and boyfriends. As a member, each person can learn to share cooking experiences, unique and fresh recipes, as well as ways to make a dish more pleasing to the eyes.
In contrast, this trend is followed by some dark aspects. Many impolite and disrespectful comments find a way to jump in and such people make these groups a mess.
On "Khoi Vat Oc" (No Need To Brainstorm) group, one of the most favoured forums for people who love to cook in Viet Nam and which has more than 11,000 "Likes", bad conversations and mean words are proliferate.
Trinh Phuong Trinh, a long time member who has uploaded pictures of many nice looking dishes with fully detailed ingredients and recipes, says most of her posts on this group are reused by some members without asking for permission.
"I have put in all my heart and mind into this work. Cooking is an art which requires a lot of patience and passion, and sharing it on Facebook is an art, too. But not everyone can have a nice photo for their dishes, while everyone wants to be praised in good words, and to receive as many 'likes' as possible. That is why some other members unintentionally took mine and made them into their illustration image without mentioning the source. That led to a tiff between me and some others. Of course, I try to use polite words as much as I can, but some people cannot stand any copyright infringement and insult those who borrow their photos without asking first."
Trinh also says these fights have reduced the culture of politeness and finesse that is necessary in any cooking group, and people who do that have no sense of responsibility to show respect to those who have made these dishes.
Tran Thanh Hai, admin of the "People Who Love To Cook And Enjoy Good Food" group, featuring over 33,000 members, shows her concern over these uncultured actions.
"Whenever a member posts something, hundreds of other members just jump in and upload photos with the same content. There are people who even ask for recipes in a very rude way. In my opinion, young mothers and wives should now spend more time with their men and kids, than indulge too much in beautifying their posts and having disagreements with other members. With time, those comments will be gone, but their loved ones who truly care for them are still here. They must find a better way to balance their real life and the visual world. If they do so, there will not be rude comments on social groups," Hai says.
As for me, I feel secure that my mom is a great cook and a poor netizen, as she only cooks for my family, silently and wholeheartedly. There is no need to show off before the public what she has done, and even when she did so, she never got involved in a cyber fight and has remained always at ease. — VNS