What is the most important thing in your life? For me it is looking at interesting photography and collecting photo books. For my wife it's food. When you combine the two together we have food photography and sometimes cook books with great photography. Recently we found a great book in a used book store that had both, "Memories with Food at Gipsy House" by Felicity & Roald Dahl with photographs by Jan Baldwin (Viking 1991).
This book had both fascinating photography and recipes along with interesting stories about the authors' family life. The photographs were not the typical commercial food shots, but wonderfully arranged foods in settings that made for attractive imagery while at the same time helping to illustrate the stories and recipes. A complete aesthetic experience.
On the other hand, there is "serious food photography!" These are photographs of food as objects or models. Sort of like fashion photography. These photos are designed to make you hungry. You sit there drooling over this amazing photograph of mouth watering food and wonder if it tastes as good as it looks. Now I know from past experience, photographing food is both an art and a craft while at the same time a complete fake.
What I mean, is that there is great skill in preparing the food to be photographed, staged, styled, and lit. The fake part comes from the fact that the food is prepared just to be photographed and not eaten. As a matter of fact, you do not even want to nibble on it unless you want a mouthful of chemicals used to make it all look good. Check out this interesting food photo video.
My preference for food photography is the type used to illustrate the Dahl book. I will be keeping my eye out for more of these books.