Monday, May 28, 2012

Thoughts on food blogging...

Note: there is a block of writing coming up. Prepare your eyes for the onslaught! No pictures. Just thoughts, musings, a little rant, and some big ups.

Everyone has a story about how their blog started, and mine is no different to anyone elses really. A mix of boredom, and wanting to document the recipes I was cooking, both my own and from various cookbooks. I had no idea about how to format a website, I didn't really know if I was a good writer or not, or how I would put it together. I didn't know where it was going to go, and to be honest, I still don't really know...  I'm not the kind to have a 5 year plan anyway, and so I'm unlikely to plan where I want a blog to take me. I'm all about finding a balance between doing what you love, doing what you need to, and being with the people who mean the most to you. So blogging was always just going to have to find the time to slot into my life, just as everything else does. It's not a massive, blinking priority.

The blog led me to use Twitter, which then introduced me to loads of other food bloggers. Not only them as people, but how they conduct themselves, if they have a personality or if they're advertising themselves/creating a "brand". I didn't know what the food blogging community would be like, in fact, I didn't even really know if there was one. The Perth food blogger scene is pretty good, there is a mix of friendly bloggers who just like to write, cook and take photos, as well as people who share that love but take their blog more seriously. There are snarky bloggers who see themselves above the rest of us, some cliques, some people are learning as they go, and there are people with abundant knowledge to share about a variety of cultures, cooking methods and ideas in food. It's an interesting mix of people. There are people with a plan for their blog, and people seeing where it takes them.

I'm of the school where I see where it takes me. I expect it takes me nowhere. Not anywhere glittering fame is anyway. It's allowed me to meet some fantastic people, of whom I call my friends now, and not just online friends (that doesn't sound sad at all!), friends who I call up and we do things on weekends, go out for drinks and chatter. It's great because a lot of my old friends I had before the blog, I was feeling disconnected from, like I had nothing to say to them anymore. It's a process everyone goes through a couple of times, where you're between friends so to speak. So the blog/twitter exposed me to some fabulous people whom I'm so glad I met. The online comradery is great too, twitter will answer any question you have straight away. Not sure how to substitute a hard to find ingredient? Someone on twitter will know. Messed up something in a recipe and want to know if it's salvagable or not? Someone on twitter has already made the same mistake and can tell you. The instant gratification of twitter is suited to the fast paced NOW culture we live in, and it suits me, most of the time.

The part about food blogging that doesn't suit me is the shameless self promotion that goes on. There is the publishing of a link to a new post, thats alright. You need to get your blog out there, and no one knows it's there until you tell them. That I have no real problem with. It's the people who are so fake that I can't handle. I have no idea who the person behind the blog is. I just know they're sickly sweet, always saying lovely, wonderful things about everyone and everything, acting as if they never make mistakes, everything they make turns out perfectly. Who the fuck ARE YOU? There are so many food bloggers who just sound like they've read too many Nigel Slater books and are trying to romanticise everything they cook (note, Nige is great, I love his writing style, but its HIS writing style). There are so many wannabe Nigellas that it makes seek out the X and click it, she's become laughably fake enough as it is. I don't care to read about these people, I don't care about their "brand" because they aren't a person. They have created some online presence which is so forgettable. So many people out there are working on branding, working on creating a public image of themselves that they must stick to. Isn't being yourself, writing with your own voice, ideas and tone enough? It worked for Anthony Bourdain. Or is his brand the kind that goes against the grain, of a chain smoking, potty mouthed travelling chef? I don't know, but it just doesn't resonate with me at all.

But I am just one reader of millions. One blogger of millions. Who am I anyway? Have I done the same thing that I ranted about? I hope not. I do appreciate good writing. I just find so many blogs a bit samey. Same old shit, different name.

The blogs I have big respect for are ones like Eat Meets West, because she has her own voice, it's so obviously HER writing, she's not trying to be anyone, she's not creating a brand, and if she is, her brand is just who she is.

I enjoy reading Food Endeavours of the Blue Apocalypse, because again she has her own voice, and I like the fact that she researches what she's writing about and gives you background information. I learn something when I read her blog, the origins of something, how authentic something might be (though authenticity is under fire now too), and she uses some different ingredients. I don't actually cook much from her blog, but it's a good read.

There are lots of blogs I like and I wont name every single one. There are lots I'm obligated to like, and ones I just dont read, because they're really boring. Mine isn't an example of a blog thats amazing. It's not that well formatted, it's not got some amazing style of writing that everyone needs to read. For me, my blog is about sharing recipes I've created, or recipes from other blogs/cookbooks. I like to try recipes from books before I buy them, and so I like to contribute to this by posting some of these recipes myself, for others to have a look at. Not for popularity contests, just for other peoples reference. I like photography anyway, not just food based, but all kinds, so some posts have good quality pictures on them. When I have time. I didn't say they were good... They're just there. Other times it's just a phone picture. My blog isn't really made for fame and fortune. My blog is pretty forgettable. But thats cool.

My ultimate philosophy on food is that it's a hobby for me. I don't want to be cooking all day, every day. I really enjoy cooking for the people I love, it's how I show I care. I don't cook for readership, or blog points. I cook because I want to. I cook because I like to see people I care about, sat around a table with nice food, good company and great wine, having a conversation and a laugh. Clichèd? Maybe. True though!

Thats whats important to me, over readership, branding, followers, and being little Miss Nigella, the domestic goddess.

I should add that I'm not scornful of the whole scene. I'm really happy with some parts of it, and I enjoy being involved. It's the commercialisation I don't enjoy. But I don't enjoy any aspect of commercialism really...

I just want to feed people good, interesting food. I wanna eat that food too. I'm interested in where the food comes from, and I like quality.

Thats it.


  1. I really enjoyed reading your post Jacqui :)

    It felt really honest and I liked how you made the point that there are an increasing number of bloggers that write in a way that probably sits comfortably in some Qantas flight magazine and looks all glossy with amazingly styled food photography but there just isn't much substance to it and the reality is that they are pretty boring to read.

    Twitter was also a turning point for me when I was blogging as I started to connect with people and meet bloggers in real life. My friends aren't as into food as me so it's great to be able to meet up with other bloggers.

    I like how you have used your blog and twitter to raise money for charity. It's a top effort!


    1. Thanks Ai-Ling!
      I agree totally, there are so many blogs that are all style, no substance. Overly nostalgic, wishy washy repeats of 100 other blog posts. Some look really nice. But I mean, so do all those polished waxed perfect apples at Woolies. They're alright, but you can get way better...

      Meeting up with the bloggers has certainly been one of the highlights - as you said, likeminded people in your life are a good thing!

      Happy you liked the post!

  2. Starting eatmeetswest has, and I'm serious here, completely changed my life. It's introduced me to beautiful friends, new products and experiances, all kinds of things.
    Similarly when I started, I just wanted a place to put the things I was cooking anyway. And to sound out my various moments of insanity, or misadventures while cooking (I'm 60 days blood free, btw). We aren't in this for fame or money. We are in it because we love to cook. That kind of honesty cant be faked, and shows through in what we do. That's what makes us AWESOME.
    Love you Jax!

    1. 60 days stab free!? YEEHA! Nice work! I've only really cut myself once. But it was a goodun. Lost the tip of my thumb to a scanpan tomato knife *pale* *nauseous*

      Blog/twitter has done the same for me. New people, products, views on things... It's great 90% of the time!

      Hi 5s all round!

  3. I put a lot of fucking effort into my Nigella costume thankyouverymuch !! You should have seen how long it took to find heels that fit me...

    Seriously though, I think what it boils down to is that the best blogs have a unique voice which makes people want to read them. One of my favourite all time blogs is Wino-sapien ( by a Perth doctor - Edward. He's not on twitter and doesn't really promote himself, and doesn't try to appeal for readers in his writing, but the way he writes is genuine and unique and honest, and you know you can trust what he has to say.

    Having been doing the blogging thing since 2005 now, I find waves of new people coming into the scene who tend to pick up on whatever they think the current "trends" of blogging or cooking are. Like the ones who want to cook everything out of specific cookbook, or the ones who want to review every cafe in town, or the ones who want to be the new Nigella/Heston/whoever. It's hard not to get blasé or cynical about things, but in the end you also have to remember that the audience isn't just other food bloggers. It's all the people out there who randomly stumble upon the blogs who find something interesting enough to make them want to come back.

    Blogging is truly powerful and speaking as someone who has definitely had their life changed by it (it helped me find my wife)... all I can say is keep doing it and be yourself. Not everyone will always like you, and you won't like them either, but the internet is a big place, and I'm not sure it really matters in the end :)


    1. haha matt just imagining you in your Nigella get up - do you do the sultry glances too?

      Thanks for the heads up about the wine blog, Ill have a look. I like the blogs that are as you described his, just writing because they enjoy writing about something they enjoy, without trying to get a book deal out of it or something. If you get one then thats a bonus but I don't tend to enjoy the constant "social media" psychology that people employ to get it.

      I also agree that sometimes ppl don't like you, you dont like them. Doesn't matter really, as long as everyones civil! You're right, the nets a big place, we don't have to come across things we don't like that often if we don't want to!

      Some wise words there!

  4. The whole branding/marketing thing you wrote about really struck a chord. I'm an ex-food-blogger. I stopped because I felt there was too much of a push towards branding and marketing. And to be honest, that just wasn't me. I wasn't in it to win a popularity contest. I started my blog because I was tired of copying out a recipe 19 times for a variety of family and friends who all suddenly wanted to know how I cooked whatever it was I'd mentioned I was cooking on FaceBook. And to be honest, I always felt like a crap food blogger - my photos were mediocre at best and my recipes were normal home-style pantry cooking stuff. Nothing fancy.

    So there was me, blogging and not fitting in. Along the way I found that there are many (vocal) food bloggers who were very quick to tell me everything I was doing wrong. When those people told me that I wasn't a real blogger until I had my own site, my own brand, a marketing strategy, and bucketloads of free stuff arriving at my door every week, I threw in the towel. Blogging is supposed to be fun. I'm much happier doing my personal blogging and throwing the occasional recipe into the mix.

    1. Yeah the branding thing doesn't suit me either. I guess some ppl want to get a book or a career out of it, but that happens to so few people that its a bit of a long shot. The worst thing is that so many of them are so fake. It doesn't cause me to lose any sleep, but when my twitter feed is clogged with over the top self promotion then it's a bit shit.

      I find it very uncool that you actually got bagged out for how you ran your blog. It's no one elses blog but yours.

  5. The "food blog" scene is exactly the same here in Ireland. Just as you describe. Must be a universal thing. Sick of the self-promoters who get everything right first time,and get "chosen" to go on all the great trips etc. I pass over blogs which start with "I was lucky enough to be chosen". No, you weren't your name was given to PR companies to promote their business. Loved this post Jacqui, so very true and honest to the core.

    1. It's funny you say its the same in Ireland Colette, as I get that vibe from the people I follow on Twitter! There are a lot of Irish bloggers and there seems to be a bit of a clique, though to what extent I don't know as I don't follow that closely! Interesting though that it seems to be quite universal - how the scene has changed over the years! Not that I would really know from personal experience, but from what I've read from others!

      Thanks for your comments, and I'm glad you liked the post!

  6. Great post and well said. Being quite new to the blogging scene I am starting to totally understand what you mean about all the different types of attitudes and people. Some bloggers seem so welcoming and lovely, while others make me feel like they think it's a competition which s so ridiculous.

    1. Yeah I know what you mean. There are so many reasons for people to start a blog, and being a douchebag about it isn't usually one of them! Pretty much all the crew in Perth who have a food blog are pretty welcoming and like what they do, and like to meet people who have the same common interests (you'll meet a few at the cake club!) but then there are some who see their blog as a job, and see you as competition. Not fun, but hey, it makes you appreciate the other ones who become your friends, so much more!