06 September 2008

Anyone want to join my band?

I've decided that today's hair day makes it imperative that I form a new Beatles. Who's with me?

Anyway. It's been a good week in food. I bought an ungodly amount of cheese, and then lots of produce to go with it, so expect cheese and Farmer's Market posts coming up. I may save some of the cheese posts for la fĂȘte du fromage, and perhaps carry one with my wine and cheese tasting idea, only one wine and cheese at a time so I don't forget what I tasted two months ago.

Today I wanted to share some thoughts I've had recently about blogs. As I've been trying to make my blogging more manageable, I've been thinking about what makes a foodblog one of my favourites. I'll admit, some of the reasons are picky things that have to do with the way my recipe program works (if people don't list ingredients separately, for example, or use in-text bullet points or strange abbreviations or weird formatting that doesn't copy well, I tend to get annoyed quickly, but that's no fault of the blogger). The things I've included here are more generally applicable, and possibly good tips for new bloggers. I'll freely admit that my own blog does not follow all these things, partly due to time and budget, but they're good to aspire to.

Foodblogging pros:

1. Attractive, clean, simple layout. (Bonus points for the layout, and especially photos, appearing in your RSS feed).
2. Attractive, clean, simple photography. Of course the professional photographers have beautiful blogs, but even people who are about at my own standard with a point-and-click are just fine. It's mostly about lighting and composition - if it's hard to see the food, or it doesn't look appetizing, I'll be less interested.
3. Simple, appealing recipes OR complicated recipes that look fantastic. My favourite blogs deviate between the two. I have some blogs, like Smitten Kitchen, Coconut & Lime, and Cook (Almost) Anything Once that tend to do a lot of simple things with few ingredients and few dishes to wash. Other blogs I love, like Tartelette, have very complicated baking recipes, but I save them because the instructions are clear, the food looks amazing, and they're perfect for special occasions.
4. Tips on the food, opinions about the food, stories about the food. Though some of my favourite blogs are written by great storytellers who can talk about pretty much anything and interest me, in general I like knowing about the recipe someone's posting. Is there something I should know about the ingredients? Is this a fantastic recipe? One of the best things about blogs is that, unlike a cookbook, people are honest about how easy the recipe was to make and how good it was. I especially love it when people mention that a recipe was particularly low on dish-use or particularly inexpensive.

Foodblogging cons:

1. Layout makes it difficult to go back, or there isn't a search feature, or posts are frequently renamed so that links break.
2. Gorgeous photographs that make me want the food so badly and then don't include a recipe. There are some blogs where I want every single dish the person makes, but there's never a recipe. If it's a copyright issue, then I'd at least like the source, so I can write it down and find the cookbook in the library. Granted, I don't frequently do that, but sometimes I will at least add the cookbook to my list of books to check out, and it's better than no clues at all as to source. One of the worst things is when people post an original recipe without the recipe!
3. This is a personal thing, and admittedly a bit Ameri-centric (unusual for me), but I'm frustrated by blogs in English with exotic recipes and no clues about the ingredients. I tend to skip over recipes where five or six ingredients are unknown to me, and then see the same ingredients in a later recipe with a translation and realise that it was just the Hindu word for a familiar spice, for example. If the post is written in English, and the ingredient is something common throughout the world with an english name, a translation would be great.
4. Holier-than-thou blogs. I understand the temptation to declare oneself a great person because you're organic, local-only, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, always made-from-scratch, have an ad-free blog etc. etc. etc. I don't think there's anything wrong with personally being proud of those things, and maybe an occasional post about something like that won't bother me. But when there are frequent posts of this nature, or posts with a condescending tone towards those who aren't able to adopt a given lifestyle choice, I get frustrated. I'm not living in poverty by any stretch of the imagination, but I can't afford to buy only local or organic or whatever else. I'd love to join Daring Bakers or TWD but I can't afford to do something like that where I know I'll be required to buy certain ingredients that are out of my budget. If someone is going to discuss those choices, that's fine, I just prefer that they don't make everyone else feel like dirt.


Holler said...

Hi Judith, I am agreeing with you on your pros and cons. I say, keep in simple with a nice clear layout and I hate when I can't move back through a blog, it is frustrating!

Carver said...

I love your new cut. Sort of like a pixie cut I used to have. Love, Mom

Kat said...

You didn't say what you think of the haircut. It's cute in a "I could totally whip your ass" kind of way.

nicisme said...

Cute hair cut!

Interesting post Judith. I haven't seen many blogs that don't post the recipes, maybe you could email them for the source or recipe.

FJK said...

Your pros and cons really sum it up for me, too.

anna said...

I loved this post, I just started my blog and have noticed many things you mentioned while I was initially exploring the foodblog world. mine's not strictly food-centric but these are all great things for me to keep in mind!