This essay was selected for the Best Food Writing Anthology.
Food writers are lying to you. In our quest to inspire people to cook, we offer images of glorious plates of food, dramatically lit, propped with carefully-chosen cloth napkins and color-coordinated dishes, with the most adorable little trail of crumbs to suggest that someone’s actually eating this slice of perfection. My dinner plate never looks like that anywhere but the computer screen, on a really good day. In real life it’s chipped, with maybe some sauce spilling over an edge onto the crumpled paper napkin.