The Splendid Table, NPR's signature cooking show, recently launched a Gastrosexual of the Month Contest. Gastrosexuals, we know (thanks Urban Dictionary), are foodies who use their culinary skills to impress friends and woo the opposite sex. Splendid Table host Lynne Rossetto Kasper, of course, is the ultimate gastrosexual: that sultry voice, that Midwestern perkiness, all that experimentation with raddichio. Grrr, and winners get to join the original saucy dish on the air.
I'm sure gastrosexuals nationwide are now polishing their essays on the sexiest culinary tool and waxing poetic about variegated beets and double creme gouda. Yet, the phrase "gastrosexual" is more a clever marketing tool than trendy neologism. A pseudo-scentific paper entitled "The Emergence of the Gastrosexual," concludes that the newest forces in the culinary scene are men, ages 25-44, who cook with the hopes of getting frisky. The paper, written by the dubious sounding Future Foundation, was commissioned by a British food company called PurAsia.
A descendant of the metrosexual, gastrosexual falls victim to the adding-a-witty-prefix-to-sexual-to-describe-a-cultural-phemonmeon curse, pushing it into marketing ploy territory. Further Googling reveals the website gastrosexual.com, an elaborate ad for PurAsia, complete with an interactive quiz, with a focus on Asian cuisine, that purports to answer the question, "just how gastrosexual are you" before guiding users on "a journey of enlightenment into the cuisine of the East"—a journey outfitted, of course, with PurAsia products.