Truth in Food Blogging
That all being said, when I went to a food blogger's conference a couple weeks ago I came back with a slightly different perspective. Let's pretend there is a really popular blogger who whips out layer cakes and weighs about 115 pounds. "What do you do with all the baked goods?" People ask. "Oh, give them to the neighbors, fill up the freezer, hand them out to people." So really, why are you making them if you don't eat them yourself, and really if people made all the things you wrote about, they wouldn't weigh anywhere near 115 pounds (they'd probably get pretty high up there pretty quickly). Wouldn't it be more useful if you wrote about what you were actually eating? When I first became interested in food blogging I read about the term "cheese sandwich blog". A cheese sandwich blog is supposedly a blog where the person talks about boring things like what they ate for lunch. Well, if the alternative is a person baking a gorgeous and ornate colorful layer cake and then throwing it out (I met someone who did this), then I would actually rather hear about what the person ate for lunch. I said "Isn't it sort of dishonest? You don't want to get fat, but you are trying to inspire other people to eat that. Why not blog about a salad?" The blogger who threw away the cake said "I'd only blog about a salad if I had really great photography." She then went on to say that desserts get great blog traffic. It is all a bit gratuitous. Tastespotting is a bit of an offender in terms of just letting you spy on very beautiful and idealized images of food (at least it isn't all desserts though I guess). This week I actually saw Food & Wine magazine at the drug store and thought it was tedious, and I didn't think that before the conference. Yes, we get it. Great food stylists and photographers can get amazing pictures of food, but in real life it looks silly and obsessive. Food bloggers can write long posts about how much they love their grandmother and give you a super idealized picture of a pie. But is the pie just there as an excuse for them to have people listen to them talk about their grandmother? Did they actually eat the pie? Did their family think it was annoying that they insisted on taking pictures of the food every minute instead of sitting down to talk to them? Is the format of the person showing supposed 'vulnerability' (like oversharing in a way that would make it uncomfortable if you met them in real life) and giving you idealized and staged photos, actually better than you just reading the recipe in a cookbook, making it and moving on with your life? Would you make the pie if you hadn't read it on the blog? Is it that healthy to always have baked goods around the house instead of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains? Of course, the blogger wouldn't get much traffic talking about instant oatmeal and steamed spinach so they aren't going to write about that. Is their quest for blog traffic making you cook unhealthy things?
I guess all that I am saying is that maybe its just food. Its nourishment, and cooking is fun, but food bloggers can actually be kind of annoying. Sometimes baked goods don't stand in for hospitality, love, or some larger grand sentiment. All that butter you see looking fabulous on the internet is not actually that good for you, and when you think that the blogger who made it didn't even eat it herself and is skinnier than all your friends - it is sort of irritating.