Thursday, 4 September 2008

The Trouble with Food Blogging

When I started this blog back in January, I had no idea just how much it would become part of my life. Food for me has always been a source of inspiration – I’m always thinking up ideas for dinner, reading cookbooks and magazines, not to mention watching culinary television programmes. Although thoughts of food are seldom far from my mind, I hasten to add, I’m not constantly stuffing my face!

There are however certain drawbacks in maintaining a food blog. I had every intention of just doing it for myself as a hobby, but the public nature of it, leaves me feeling compelled to write about everything I create in the kitchen. I concede that I haven’t actually documented everything, and so, occasionally I have pangs of guilt when I fail to write a post. I shouldn’t feel guilty, it’s not as if I have an agent or publisher breathing down my neck because he or she is eager for me to deliver, in order for them to receive their commission. Blogging has given me a sense of duty, especially when I know there are people out there, reading it and leaving nice comments. A big ‘thank you’ to you all, by the way.

 One thing I’ve learnt, it’s actually very difficult to write recipes. I have been cooking for quite a long time now and the act of putting a meal together has become instinctive. I rarely consult cookery books unless I’m about to embark upon something new, or if I’m baking cakes etc, which is more of a science. There are probably many dishes in my repertoire that will never make their way here. It would take much analytical dissection to translate them into a workable recipe, and whilst I’m confident with the results from my kitchen, I worry that my written recipe may not work in someone else’s kitchen.

 Some things that are eaten in the Cheeky Spouse household are regular day-to-day fare. For example, one evening we had beans on toast with eggs – not quite a dish to be given a full report. This probably explains why my blog makes it appear that we eat like kings all the time! This simply is not the case. I confess that I don’t always cook every night and something pre-prepared may slip on to the week’s menu. I must stress that I do not condone the regular consumption of ‘pierce and ping’ dinners, but a certain supermarket does do very fine curries.

 I’m a firm believer in the art of visual communication – it is in fact my profession – and so, a recipe without pictures is next to useless. Chefs will always tell us how we eat with our eyes first, so a decent photograph is essential. Now, I’m not a food stylist, but I do like to take photos. Food photography is not easy when you are merely trying to grab a snapshot before the plate is transferred to the dining table.
In an ideal world, I’d like to have plenty of natural light to produce a stunning photograph, something we’re all familiar with from those beautiful cookbooks. This however is never going to happen. I don’t and I’m not about to start making dishes purely to be photographed. We eat our main meals in the evening, by which time all that wonderful light has passed. Trying to hastily photograph something under an energy-saving bulb is not going to produce the best results. I can’t be fussing around with different exposure settings either – we’re hungry and want to eat it while it’s still hot.
All this may explain why my cakes and bread etc always look better on the page – at least I can be a little choosier about when and where I shoot them. I suppose that’s where the wonders of Photoshop come in, but it all takes a lot of tweaking and time.

 I’m not sure why I did it, but this blog is listed on various social blogging websites. I should have kept it simple and stayed away, because now, there’s a certain amount of maintenance that has to be carried out. Maybe it’s not all that important, but although I wanted this to be a personal adventure, there’s still that neediness in me that wants to advertise my work. It’s my own fault. I feel that there is a certain lack of the travel element here too. That was my initial intention – to include travelogues with a food related element. The simple fact is I haven’t done much travelling lately. That said, as I write this, I will be going away for the weekend. I shall not divulge as to where just yet, that’s something you’ll have to come back for later. Let’s hope I find the time to relate my experiences!


Anne Lossing said...

wow! everything you say about food blogging is just SO TRUE!! I really couldn't have said it better myself. It was just a fun hobby to start with, only because I made a dish that looked good enough to photograph. And it is impossible to blog every day unless it is a full time job ... not only because it takes a lot of time and money to look for new recipes and the right ingredients every day, but because we eat a lot of things more than once ... and I can only blog about Sunday brunch of bacon and eggs just so many times ;>) Anyway, well written and thought out essay ... thanks.

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