A recent discussion on Chowhound sparked a big debate … do recipes on food blogs actually taste good?
I admit, I’ve tried recipes from websites and been heartily disappointed. I’ve also prepared recipes specifically from food blogs, some with millions of monthly views and had mediocre results. Enticing photographs bring clicks and revenue to a site, but shouldn’t food bloggers also back up the sizzle with some steak?
The original Chowhound.com post is below:
Do Food Bloggers Owe Their Readers Tasty Recipes?
Food bloggers, especially the big ones, are making a good living from our views. They are focused on clicks, product sales if they have them, advertising revenue, and building their email list. They know how powerful a picture can be, and they focus on appealing photos to drive traffic and pad their bank accounts.
This story first caught my eye when a fellow food blogger posted it on her Facebook page. A lot of food bloggers chimed in:
- One blogger found a recipe had the wrong picture attached; there was no way the ingredients could combine to match the image, and it was all over Pinterest
- The crush to churn out recipe after recipe makes it hard to test recipes for flavor
- Food bloggers write for food porn addicts, most people just look at the pictures; only a small percentage make the recipe themselves
- Food bloggers pick recipes based on photography needs first, tastiness second
- Some recipes get transcribed from videos and mistakes are written into the transcription
- Taking good photos doesn’t make you a good cook, some food bloggers don’t have a complete skill set
- We should give bloggers a break; many are learning as they go and doing the best they can
- Don’t forget user error is a factor, sometimes it’s not the blogger
- As our name is True Food, we feel obligated to post only tasty food. I will admit to at least one misfire though. A brownie recipe I used for years isn’t that tasty, and a kind commenter pointed out ways to improve the flavor. I’ve since hunted down a better recipe and one of these days I’ll write it up and share with you.
Cookbook Authors Do It Too
Want to know a little secret? I had the opportunity to meet and greet the folks at Cooks Illustrated a few years ago. They talked about their recipe research process. First, they look through several cookbooks and recipe sites, then they cull a few options, and finally they test cook to come up with the best combination of ingredients. They do a LOT of test cooking! One of the things the editor complained about was “filler recipes.” These are recipes a cookbook author slides in to fill the pages (hint: if it doesn’t have a picture, it could be filler). He said it happened all the time.
Food Blogging Takes Time, More Than you Think
I’ve been blogging for a long time, as a fitness or medical writer I know most posts will take me about 60 to 90 minutes to write. A food blogger has a much bigger commitment; there’s recipe research, a trip to the grocery store, time to prepare the recipe, time to photograph the recipe and then writing up the post itself. It can take four to six hours, and that’s if the food is up to the bar set by the writer. Make a mistake or use a bad recipe, and you’ve got to start all over. I’ll be on my fourth batch of beef stew soon. I found a great recipe, but little things keep going wrong and I don’t have a good bowl to shoot, so back to the kitchen I go.
What about you? Are you more about pretty pictures or are you looking to expand your recipe repertoire? Do you think it’s OK to swap a photo from another recipe because it’s more appetizing? I’d love to hear your thoughts.