Poreless and Peerless, Smooth Food Is an Aesthetic Lifestyle

A slice of orange Thai jelly cake on a plate.

Thai jelly: smooth food. | Photo: daewoosao/Shutterstock

A “smooth” PB&J sandwich broke the internet’s brain and also maybe mine

“Mods are asleep post smooth food,” began a tweet posted two weeks ago that showed two discernibly sleek triangles with layers of white, purple, and brown — coupled with the word “food” in the tweet, it suggested a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that had been sanded down to an appealing flatness, or a block of putty molded into something your brain wants you to put into your mouth. The smooth PB&J kicked off a viral thread with others posting photos of different foods alike in their featureless texture, an equal mix of bizarre and alluring: desserts topped with glassy and glossy mirror glazes; pancakes so round and poreless they look like CGI; jellies and puddings perfectly molded in the shape of their vessels; foods uncannily made to look like other foods; improbable, plastic-looking objects; the ultimate forbidden foods, as beautiful as they are dangerously inedible.

What is it about smooth food — not a recognizable style of cooking or genre of dining, by any means — that captivated so many people? Even more to the point, what is smooth food?

Smooth food is not just a gastronomic preference, it’s an aesthetic lifestyle.

Smooth food is food without bite to it. Preternaturally leveled mashed potatoes, soups, smoothies (duh), yogurt, apple sauce, soft scrambled eggs, Jell-O, cottage cheese — just let it dissolve on your tongue and slip down your gullet, as frictionless as pureed vegetables and fruits for toothless infants.

Smooth food is baby food, and the plastic fake foods we played with as children, pretending to serve our parents whole tomatoes and uncooked ribeyes. Smooth food is a return to childhood; all we want is to be baby.

Smooth food is an antidote to the ultra-high-clarity, sharpened-to-the-max, faux-HDR look that dominates popular #foodporn Instagrams. That aesthetic is battered, submerged in oil, and fried crispy, a sensory overload; smooth food is a sensory suppressant, a soothing Ambien for your eyes. It’s a relief from the anxiety of trypophobia; there are no holes here.

A close-up of injera bread.
Photo: Lukasz Nowak via Wikimedia
Injera: not smooth food!!!

Smooth food is the ironic-non-ironic memetic desire to obliterate the wrinkles of Yoda and Bernie Sanders, and to buff out the folds in your own brain until all that remains is a glossy orb. It is the ASMR-esque sensation of watching bars of lustrous soap being whittled down to nothing.

Smooth food is for when you want to close your eyes and rest your head, senses off, save for the heightened feeling of running your fingertips over the satiny surface of a plane that never ends; it continues, uninterrupted, in all directions. Imagine, briefly, if all noise on Twitter ceased to exist, leaving just an infinite scroll of blessed silence. Such is smooth.

A smooth flan-like pudding on a plate.
Photo: flyingv3/Shutterstock
Pudding: smooth food.

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