Whether you're a keen cook, baulk at the idea of making dinner from scratch or call yourself an out-and-out foodie, chances are, you follow more than one excessively aspirational food-related account on social media and that, on a bad day, it can leave you feeling a bit inadequate.
Perhaps it's a stay-at-home mum turned Insta-sensation who casually crafts three-storey edible houses out of vegetables for her child's dinner on a daily basis. Or a clean-eating superfood advocate who seemingly juices his way through the day with the greatest of ease. Or maybe it's the perfectly curated life of a celebrity chef documented through iPhone snaps. Either way, sometimes, it can all feel a bit too unattainable and just plain overwhelming.
So, we thought we’d seek out the alternatives: feel-good and fun-loving accounts that prioritise entertainment over aspiration. From tongue-in-cheek bakes and a food-focused Instagram page randomly dedicated to Meryl Streep to smart word play, humorous mistakes and airline food reviewed restaurant-style, there’s plenty here to sink your teeth into.
For Meryl Streep + food (= joy): @tasteofstreep
If you’re a fan of food, a touch of wit and whimsy and the force that is Meryl Streep (and who isn’t?), then we have just the Instagram account for you. @tasteofstreep features images of the lauded actress superimposed onto various ingredients, drinks and dishes. This is no cut, paste and be done with it job, though – the Photoshopping is expert, with the colour of the outfits Streep has worn in her movies or on the red carpet seamlessly matched to the food subject matter. It sounds random – and that it is – but once you’ve taken in the actress reclining on a giant prawn, submerged in a pan of shakshuka, emerging from a Cadbury Creme Egg or resplendent in a dress made from jelly, it’s hard to stop scrolling.
For random cake-related smiles: @drakeoncake
The @drakeoncake Instagram account does exactly what the handle suggests: provides us with images of cakes, pies and cupcakes iced with lyrics from the Canadian singer-songwriter and rapper Drake. Niche? Certainly. Strangely absorbing? Absolutely. Joy Wilson, the popular cookbook author, food photographer and blogger better known as @joythebaker is the person behind this account. Her combination of exuberantly decorated cakes and the often rather forthright lines she chooses to immortalise in buttercream icing, sugar paste and fondant somehow works like a charm. Think: “You’ve got options but I been chosen”; “Too blessed to be humble”; “Really too young to be feeling this old”; “We live like Sopranos”; and “I’m just saying you could do better”. Classic Drake.
For menu mishaps and mistranslations: @menufails
It might not be big and clever, but spotting mistakes on food menus – be it a misspelt word, odd translation or rogue comma that alters the meaning of a sentence – does keep us amused when eating out. The good news for us – and anyone who feels the same – is that the @menufails Twitter account is dedicated to fuelling that preoccupation, gleefully highlighting instances when something has been lost in translation. Give them a follow and you can ponder whether you’d opt for the “Delicious roasted husband” on the menu at a cafe in Japan, try a “Three-phase of babys in texture forest” featured in a Spanish dessert selection, or give the rather defeatist “Too hard to translate soup” served at a Chinese restaurant in Ohio a pity order.
For a welcome dose of food reality: @cookingforbae
For anyone who feels Instagram is oversaturated with unachievable-looking images of meals that people have effortlessly “whipped up” – think raw kale salads that just happen to be accompanied by matching props – @cookingforbae is here to make your day. The tagline reads “a sweet dedication to struggle plates” (a struggle plate being a meal that looks rather off-putting). The premise is simple: the people behind the account forage for less-than- appetising food images that others have (seriously) posted on Instagram and call them out on it. While that might sound a little mean, they do so in good spirit – “it’s all jokes”, reads their disclaimer. And it’s rather refreshing to see some decidedly imperfect food images online – plastic cheese, mystery sauces, shrivelled-up meat and all.
For food puns galore: @talkingfood
A great account for food lovers who also like to dabble in a spot of casual word play, this account features unfussy, Instagram-friendly images of products and ingredients overlaid with clever text. There might not be a real point to it, but for a quick slither of light relief this one ticks the right menu boxes. Some particularly inspired posts include the words: “I beleaf in a thing called love” running over a pile of green leaves; a Thanksgiving-themed photograph of a perfectly golden turkey accompanied by the line: “All about the baste”; a platter of spicy chicken wings with “Where the wild wings are”; and some fabulous-looking devilled eggs bolstered by the compliment “Handsome devil”. They even keep up with current topics and themes of interest, as last month’s “Game of scones” post proved.
For the lowdown on airline food: @inflightfeed on Instagram and www.inflightfeed.com
It might read like parody, but this Instagram account and associated website takes reviewing the in-flight food and meal experiences of founder Nik Loukas ever so seriously, as he travels around the globe on different airlines (150 and counting) and in different classes. The Instagram posts tend to feature shots of the meals as they're presented to passengers – with mini review-style descriptions. The website goes into more detail, with plenty of information about the range of order-ahead meals available in the air (low calorie, low salt, diabetic, fruit platter, raw vegetarian – there's a greater variety than you might think). Loukas also shares how to reserve them, as well as an airline food directory and in-depth, restaurant-style food reviews. If that were not enough, a documentary on the subject, The Inflight Food Trip, is in post-production, according to the website.
For beautiful food like you’ve never seen it before: @GRoehrs on Instagram and www.gretchenroehrs.com
Food, fashion, art and beauty combine in this rather stunning-looking Instagram account. The images featured on @GRoehrs are the work of illustrator Gretchen Roehrs and consist of line drawings of stylish figures cleverly embellished with edible ingredients to resemble couture clothing. There are floaty skirts made from fanned-out radishes, harem trousers constructed out of green beans, ruffles made from kale, oyster-shell dresses and banana peels turned into jumpsuits. The thing that really sets the artist's work apart is that the clever creations manage to have a real high-end fashion feel to them (many offer a nod to a certain designer, specific look or fashion-week trend), while still showcasing the fresh ingredients in all their glory. Fans of Roehrs's work should also check out her coffee-table book on the subject, Edible Ensembles: A Fashion Feast for the Eyes.