Man, I wish I had known about The Strobist (as described in this recent Slate article) when I decided I liked food photography enough to ditch my point and shoot for a DSLR. I probably would have approached the unending "lighting problem" in a significantly different (and cheaper) way if I had. As it is, it looks like there are some fairly cheap ways to move my flash off camera... so all is not lost... and conceivably I wouldn't really have understood the site as a complete n00b.
Anyway, even a partial n00b like me realizes that more often than not it's the lighting that makes the critical difference between a good or bad shoot... especially when we're talking food photography, where natural light is often not an option. Bouncing my flash off ceilings and walls has made a big difference, but the problem is that it is somewhat unpredictable and hard to control... I just bought a cheap diffuser to help with that, but moving the flash off camera is pretty intriguing.