This Harper's article from 2005 compares the food porn of the Food Network to regular porn.
Eventually, Tyler and the housewife would go cheek to cheek, lean forward, open their mouths, taste the chicken and rice, and melt into a flushed-face, simultaneous food swoon. When the inevitable sequence finally rolled, the editor kept looping their wet mouths and rapt faces as they pushed forkful after forkful of arroz con pollo past their lips, chewed, and swallowed-and pushed and chewed and swallowed again and again. "Classic porn style," said Nitke. "They're stretching the moment out, the orgasmic moment. In porn they'll take a cum shot and run it in an endless loop."
That must have been a fun one to write. See also: Food Network star or porn star? (via serious eats)
Update: Here's an interview with the author about the article. (thx, jim)
Anthony Bourdain critiques Food Network and some its stars on Michael Ruhlman's blog. "SANDRA LEE: Pure evil. This frightening Hell Spawn of Kathie Lee and Betty Crocker seems on a mission to kill her fans, one meal at a time. She Must Be Stopped. Her death-dealing can-opening ways will cut a swath of destruction through the world if not contained. I would likely be arrested if I suggested on television that any children watching should promptly go to a wooded area with a gun and harm themselves." Blogging may well be Bourdain's natural medium...it suits his vitriolic style.
Bill Buford tells the story of Food Network, a channel that Julia Child could never hope to appear on today.
Update: Accidental Hedonist on Food Network: "The network was no longer about making good food and understanding it, it became about using food to impress other people. Whether it was getting a meal out in 30 minutes, or making the perfect thanksgiving feast, the shows seemed to sell the idea of 'having' food knowledge, without actually having any."