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Don't Take My Picture

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Now, I like nothing more than devouring one cookbook after another, feasting on perfectly styled images of cakes, tarts, and marinated meats, followed by a flick through the recipe pages of the weekend magazines, but a new music video from The Key of Awsome! struck a particular chord. The song, entitled 'Eat it don't tweet it' was particularly appropriate on a recent trip to an East London Restaurant.

As our meals arrived, I was accosted by two camera-wielding friends who proceeded to take pictures of my dish from every angle imaginable. Dancing around my plate, they moved from above, to the side, only pausing to switch to their iPhones to use Instagram. Snapping your meal is certainly becoming the new foodie obsession.

But with a growing number of people taking and sharing pictures of their food to Tumbler, Twitter, Pinterest, or a personal blog, can we no longer just sit down and simply enjoy a meal, without it being documented?

Food photography has become a big trend this year and, with some, it's even bordering on a compulsion. From slices of toast laden with scrambled eggs and fresh herbs for a weekend breakfast descending on Twitter, to a smear of port wine reduction with an evening pork medallion on Foodspotting, people seem so compelled to record their every meal.

And there are so many food photography apps around now - the latest offering being Platter - where you can tag and share pictures of your meals, and then there's foursquare, fidd.me, SnapDish, and Instagram, which was recently sold to Facebook for a massive one billion dollars, driving the trend. Not to mention the hundreds of plates of food which descend on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest daily.

But what do you do with all these hundreds of images? They could be used as a source of inspiration, or a sneaky peak at what the latest restaurants have to offer, but I'm not convinced that I would swap my trusted cookbook or weekday viewing of a chef's new TV show for a mealtime snap from a fellow Londoner's Flickr account.

There might be some interesting ideas coming out of kitchens all around us, but how do we know that the recipes are any good? And what use is looking at hundreds of pictures of tasty treats popping up on Twitter with no recipe attached at all?

In the end it comes down to etiquette. Few restaurants (well, none that I have come across) ban cameras, so I guess it's down to the individual. But if you want to snap my meal, you have to be quick, discreet, and not one morsel of my food should go cold.