For the love of food…

As I write the first draft of this post it’s 2am and I’m wide awake with frustration over a blogpost that has been bubbling inside me for months. You may have seen hints of it brewing in other posts or in the odd tweet but here one dark cold night I need to finally write it down and I apologise, actually no I don’t, if this isn’t like my other blog posts.

Blogging is a fickle place and I’ve been blogging in various forms since 2001. Yes blogs were around back then, but more private affairs and certainly no PR/advertising. I’ve seen huge changes good and bad, some of which make me frankly ashamed to call myself a food blogger. Sometimes I feel food blogging has become an elitist sport with people vying to be the top food snob and in turn abusing other bloggers to get there.

Blogging should be inclusive. It shouldn’t matter where you live, your background, wealth, shop you use or what you eat. Everyone is different, that’s what makes this world great.¬†Being able to choose where you get your food from is a privilege. For some people it’s not a choice between if they should buy milk from the organic micro-dairy down the road or milk from free-range cows fed lavender (ok slight exaggeration) it is if they can afford to buy their family this basic, essential dairy source at all.¬†I very much believe most people buy the best quality food they can afford and if that means having to make compromises so be it. The aim is to get good food on the table.

I know of bloggers who have stopped writing their fabulous blogs recently because they don’t feel they fit the food blogger face. Do you know what? I don’t care what you blog about. It could be about ready meals or you penchant for fast food, all I ask for is passion and originality. Bloggers shouldn’t be ostracised because they don’t have the budget or tastes of others. I’ve received comments/emails in the past from people (usually anonymous, the scaredy cats) bemoaning me for writing a recipe when an ingredient was not in season or using a recipe that wasn’t 100% authentic. I’m all for making cookery accessible for everyone and if that means altering a recipe so it uses easily obtainable ingredients, so be it. If people didn’t tweak recipes now and again food wouldn’t evolve and most countries wouldn’t have the rich diversity of dishes that they have now. How do you think Chicken Tikka Masala is now considered to be one of the UK’s top dishes?

In the world of social media it’s too quick & easy to judge. “OMG look at that ingredient he’s using”, “isn’t this dumbed down showing us how to make [insert dish]” this often comes from people who have the luxury of food education. Some people are not lucky enough to have cooked with their parents when they were younger because maybe their parents couldn’t or didn’t enjoy cooking. If a tv programme shows these people how to make a basic dish, that may seem dumbed down to some, and that dish encourages someone to head to the kitchen¬†surely that’s a good thing?

In amongst all this there are gems of the food blogging world. Bloggers who show integrity, are non judgemental, don’t believe the food blogging world revolves around them while at the same time writing fabulous blogs. Blogging is about having passion,¬†originality, tolerance and being you. Not being snobby and elitist. Oh and what ever you do, never ever rip off another food blogger or writer. You’re just asking for trouble.

48 thoughts on “For the love of food…”

  • Absolutely! We all do the best we can with the circumstances we have. I didn’t realise people were giving up and feeling left out but I certainly have felt the shift in focus recently and wish there were more passion and less stats-chasing happening.

  • Great post Jules.

    I am no baker or chef extraordinaire but have always enjoyed reading your posts and seeing the photos you take. I have often taken inspiration and tried things out that I wouldn’t usually think of.
    I love to cook, although it is never attractively presented as I usually can’t shake my 3 & 5 year old “helpers” off!
    As a chaotic family of 6 we rarely eat together but the best part of the week for us is Sunday afternoon sitting in the dining room talking about the week to come. Sometimes it’s a roast with all the trimmings but other times it’s merely ham and cheeses with plenty of tiger bread!

    If a recipe is poncey or requires me to trawl 3 supermarkets for a certain ingredient it is a non starter.

    Keep up the good work! xx

  • I first came to your blog through your malt loaf recipe. I’ve continued to follow it with enjoyment. It’s informative, entertaining and well presented. Keep up the excellent work.


  • Your blog continues to inspire, and this post has struck a chord with me. As one who stepped away, you’ve made me realise why I did – I felt I had to have a budget for the best ingredients, be a pro at photography with a cupboard full of food props, and to have stepped foot in a professional kitchen to be qualified add to the conversation. Perhaps time to reconsider, thanks Jules.

  • Very well said! I still consider myself new to blogging and do find it rather daunting at times. I don’t understand people making negative comments-what happened to saying nothing if you have nothing nice to say?! By the way I think your blog is great!

  • I think I must live in my own little world sometimes. I am fortunate that I haven’t come across the kind of comments that you mention and I’ve made some amazing, generous and amusing friends in the blogging world.

    I was at a social media seminar at work recently and one of the speakers said he worked on the maxim used by Thumper’s father in Bambi! “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all” I always try to blog and tweet by this advice.

  • What a refreshing post, so honest and true. I am amazed you have had negative points made to you but hunk this stems from ignorance and a certain amount of food snobbery. I think you have integrity in what you cook and write about so you must keep doing what you are doing. You must have seen many changes in the blogging world over the past decade but hopefully all the pretentious ones have fallen by the wayside. You are right you have to be yourself when writing a blog. How else could you keep up a pretence as an alter ego plus people would see through you I think.
    Great post thanks!

    • I’m hardened to negative comments now, but it makes me feel sad when I see it happen to other, newer bloggers and also see them get taken advantage of.

  • Very well written Jules,and with candid honesty too. I am new to blogging and I am still enjoying what I write, as well as the recipes I develop and post on my blog. I was lucky enough to be taught how to cook by my mum at home, BUT I hope that doesn’t have a reverse psychology on other people who read my blog, as I would hate to appear pompous about that, but it IS a part of me and what I am today! I have lived all over the world and seen poverty, riches, different traditions and cultures through food and family life, and I embrace each and everyone who visits me and my blog with equality and respect. I feel a little guilty that I do bang on a bit about free-range eggs, but, that is because I have seen first hand how badly battery hens are treated and it was, quite frankly, heartbreaking; as human beings, I think we can rise above poor animal husbandry and treat animals with a little bit more respect! I hope that does not make me a food snob, as NOTHING could be further from the truth! I have been a HUGE admirer of your blog for a while now and I enjoy each and every post you write, as well as all of your lovely recipe too! I am a subscriber to your email and I love the diversity of what you write about……..this post is no exception. I feel VERY sad that there are some people who have stopped blogging, that is awful and very disappointing for the whole blogging community. I have to say as a newcomer I have not picked up on issues like that yet. I am a person who sees life as a half full pint glass and not a half empty pint glass, and I would never dream of leaving a negative comment on anyone’s blog – I enjoy each and every one I visit and get a huge amount of enjoyment out of the many that I follow, but then I am an outgoing and passionate person who just loves food and cooking.
    Thanks for having the courage to post this, it does raise some interesting points as well as highlight some rather sad facts too…..and by the way, I very rarely make my own puff pastry, I use ready-made!!

  • I agree. Blogs come across best when written with honesty and integrity. People are all different, and what makes blogging so interesting is that it removes the potential barriers between people of all sorts, around the world.

    • That’s what I love about following different blogs. I learn about people who I wouldn’t usually meet on a day to day basis.

  • Jules, I felt every word you wrote. I sometimes feel that because I write a healthy food blog I should always be stipulating organic/local/seasonal to keep with my niche. But I am old enough and stubborn enough to not get caught in that trap. You are right that most people (at least those reading food blogs) buy the best they can afford/what’s right for them & we shouldn’t be snooty and alienating about ingredients. A lot of my readers have cancer & are already terrified that if they don’t buy & cook the ‘right’ thing that they are compromising their health. Tosh for the most part. Eating well & healthily doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should always be with enjoyment & passion. Rant over. I’m away to have a supper of baked potato with beans (from a tin) & cheese (from anonymous cow). Thanks for your heart-felt post. Loved it , Jules.

  • Thank you for a great post, I have had time out for six weeks, and this has lifted my confidence to see that with my cooking background and knowledge, I sometimes felt a little awkward as I did not want to be known as a food snob, but knowing the basics and beyond. Every recipe can be used for every budget, and adapted to give that creativity. If we stop learning with die, so thank you the passion and keep up the great blogging! x

  • Good post Jules. But then, there are too many people who are good at PR who write for commercial reasons.

    My own preference is for blogs by the keen amateur. People who do it out of genuine interest rather than making a few bob.

  • Hear hear I agree I quite often blog about what I think are simple recipes yet I know a lot of young people don’t know how to cook simple things. They can then take these recipes and expand on them. I am interested in reading lots of different blogs whether they are easy or complicated or even whether the ingredients are in season or not.

    Keep on blogging.!

  • I think you make a good point about how easy it is to judge, particularly when you can do so anonymously.

    To those people that complain about ingredients being out of season, maybe you could explain to them that not all the readers of your blog live in the same country or even in the same hemisphere as you do. I’ve recently discovered your blog and enjoy it, even though you are in the middle of winter and it’s summer here in New Zealand. Besides, it’s your blog, if you want to write about out of season ingredients you should. Especially as you are good!

    I hope that you stop getting the negative comments, continue blogging and are somewhat cheered by all the positive comments you’ve received to this post. I enjoy your blogs, I like your sense of humour, lavender fed cows indeed … though maybe living in a country that has more dairy cows than people I should look into that idea ;-)

    • Anna, I’ve never thought about the southern hemisphere. My argument is that people google recipes all year round and often ahead of time. I know in the next week or so I’ll begin to see a rise in Easter hits.

  • I never leave comments on these things, but had to this time. What a great posting and so true.
    I’m not interested in reading about people tripping over themselves to show how “ontrend” they are, But what I do want to read about is people wanting to share a genuine excitement about what they are doing or what they have discovered.

    • Thank you. I think it’s fair to say I’ve never been on trend all my life. Well I like to put it that I’ve been ahead of the trend.

  • Jules, I think this is so well written and makes such valid points. Personally, I wonder if my blog is even relevant, being someone on a limited income, cooking the things that I love – there’s no capacity in my purse or my life to cook with expensive cuts of meat, to make millions of macarons to perfect the perfect recipe, or go to fancy restaurants. Maybe this is why I rely so much on cake.

    Also, whilst I know I’m not hugely well rated in blogger terms, I do know so many people who, like me are Guiders and running units on such tight budgets. Almost all our ingredients for the girls will be basics range or donated. We do the best with what we have. I think there just can’t be snobbery – everyone can only do what’s best by them and for them. Part of my role as a blogger and a Guider is to show young women that food is not the enemy, that it is possible to cook and eat well on a limited income (my usual budget is around ¬£3 per head per day including all drinks, snacks and meals) and that you can and should enjoy food. Life skills, that I think people need. I know people scoff at what I do, what I write, they’ve done it to my face online more than once. But it’s important, in my eyes at least.

    Thank you for this. I wholeheartedly agree. So much

  • Crikey Jules, I’ve no idea what has prompted you to write this post but your passion for fair blogging gets a big round of applause from me. I can feel inspired, berated and belittled in equal measure reading blogs and social networking. I have to tell myself that the Internet is just a playground and like the real thing there are people playing nicely including anyone who wants to join it, cliques who shut out their kind and there are bullies who take pleasure in being unkind. Except in this playground people forget there is a real person on the receiving end of comments/emails and say things that they would not say face to face.

    I love reading your blog. I was drawn to you initially because of we both have “domestic” tags but love reading about your adventures. I admire that you stepped out of your comfort zone to start your new business and want to make a positive difference in the lives of other people. I love that you’re not afraid to do things your way and speak out for people who are less fortunate. You have compassion and humility that is humbling – this post is another example of that.

    • Thank you for your kind comment. I’ve been prompted by seeing fellow bloggers being abused. I’ve been blogging for long enough to be hardened by it and almost so stubborn I won’t get walked over or taken advantage of. Your playground analogy is very true.

  • Very well said!

    Cooking and food are fantastic mediums to bring people together, but by many are also seen as symbols of status, wealth or culture.
    It seems crazy to me – food is about fun!
    Plus I’d far rather eat a ‘supermarket basics’ meal, made with enthusiasm and love, than a dish full of trendy ingredients that are there just to show off.
    Blogging shouldn’t be about one-upmanship (in my little ideal world) but about sharing, and the fact that someone has taken the time to cook and write about anything should be respected and applauded, rather than shot down!

    Thanks for sharing – as a writer of a food blog that is definitely at the less refined and budget end of the spectrum, it was also lovely to hear your words of encouragement

    • Thank you. I use quite a few basic/value products in my kitchen and business. I may have to blog about the great things you can make with just budget brands.

  • I found this a really interesting post. I know that there are some bloggers who feel that blogs are just a minor step on their path to cookery book superstar status but, since I’m completely without ambition, they tend to make me laugh. The authenticity orthodoxy is the aspect that I find most perplexing. I read a recent book by a fashionable chef who published a recipe that he implied couldn’t really be enjoyed properly unless cooked with ingredients collected in the Himalayas. I’m not sure if he’d ever climbed the Himalayas but I’m quite sure he was having difficulty getting over himself. I certainly don’t object to people blogging about unusual or exotic ingredients but the pretentious and exclusive insistence on them is irrelevant for most people, I’m sure.
    I really hope that negative comments don’t discourage food bloggers – I enjoy the blogs too much. Personally, I’ve never seen negative comments on Facebook or Twitter since I don’t have an account on either of them. Sometimes I worry that I’m missing something – but I never worry for very long.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and keep up the good blogging.

  • Oh how much I love this post.

    On tastespotting rececntly, I saw a post for Eleven Madison Park’s butternut squash ravioli, and I clicked through to the New York Times review of their cookbook. The author was asked “can people cook from it?” And his answer was “Yes. -ish.” And not to sound condescending, but I felt a little twinge of sorriness for him because he won’t know the joy of having your readers tell you that they made your dish and loved it, or they made it and they changed this or that, or this looks good but the way their mom made it when they were little was thus and such.

    That’s where all the fun is for me, at least. When I started blogging, I worried that I couldn’t maintain an audience for a humor site that also had recipes on it. I was talking to the guy who writes the William Sonoma food blog recently, and his attitude was wonderful. He was like “you just said you love it. You just said you were having the time of your life. So who cares?”

    It sounds like his sentiment, which echoes yours, bears repeating. Horray for this post, then!


  • Hear hear, now THAT is a brilliant blog post and I couldn’t agree with you more.

    p.s just seen your coconut macaroons which I’m going to adapt as yuuuuummmm!

  • Well said!! Stumbled across this post on Twitter this morning and I could not agree more. There’s a whole lot of backstabbing and bitching going on and I am thoroughly sick of it. Your blog is YOUR space and there you get to do what YOU want to do. If you love it and do it well, then why on earth should people give a toss whether you use particular ingredients, cook seasonally, use vintage props, use no props, make “authentic” dishes or irreverently rework old classics?? And yet, people seem to have enough time on their hands to come to blogs and leave comments on all the above or, worse, take to Twitter to vent about these things “without mentioning names” (titter! wink!). Get over yourselves, folks. If you spent as much time creating quality content for your sites as you do bitching, the blogging world would be a better place!

  • “Blogging is about having passion, originality, tolerance and being you. Not being snobby and elitist.” Yes, I agree with you 100% that the world of food blogging has sadly become overly competitive, many bloggers simply trying to do whatever it takes (or whatever they think it takes) to become rich and famous, vying for one of those rare spaces on that podium reserved for “Top A-List” food bloggers. Who then, in turn, decide who can join them by posting what. Sadly, it often seems that the mediocre wins out and those who try and be unique, original and creative are sidelined. But I also think that someone’s “honesty” shines through their blog post, what and how they write and the kind of food and recipes they post. Food, recipes do not have to be fancy, hard to find or complicated; the most simple dishes using good, basic ingredients are great. What I hate is the whole monetizing, media-whoring (forgive my French), posting junk food, kissing up to “Big” bloggers, aggressive self-promotion, and cliques that happen in this world of food blogging. What do I love? Yes originality, creativity, uniqueness, beautiful writing, beautiful photos, cool recipes and friendly, honest sharing. Thanks for sharing this post with me. Sorry if I sound preachy, but I have so many wonderful food blogger friends who are so fed up and upset with what much of the food blogging world has become that it is upsetting. Glad we connected.

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