|Vive la revolution!|
[h/t Dianne Jacob for sharing the original post.]
I told myself not to write this. There’s enough negativity on the internet. Besides, I’ve got my blog, my self published cookbook – what good would it do? Let it go.
I can’t let it go. This is a personal attack.
The test kitchen policy for my cookbook publishing company, Life of Reiley, is that the final recipe must be tested three times in the kitchen, then pass the test by a minimum of two home cooks (sometimes three depending on the recipe’s complexity) before it’s approved. If something doesn’t work out with just one of the home cooks, we go back to the start and totally retest. I know many of you test much more. I have a friend who, as an intern, once tested a cinnamon roll recipe 100 times before it was deemed fit for publication by America’s Test Kitchen. But whatever your testing policy, I know that we can all agree on the importance of ensuring that the experience of making a dish goes smoothly for a home cook.
The bloggers are, essentially, faking it. And then marketers are sharing these recipes with the public—and paying hobby cooks for the kind of skilled work most of us have spent a career developing. I also can’t help but question to what extent do the companies check to ensure the resulting recipes aren’t plagiarized from professional sources. The most important message I got from the seminar was that we, the professional journalists, researchers, home economists, recipe developers, food stylists, and photographers are getting aced out of much needed work in our chosen field by stay-at-home moms and accountants with a cooking hobby.
Yes, I’m a computer programmer with a cooking hobby. Guilty as charged.
Articles like this make me doubt myself. Are you right? I agonize about this. Am I faking it? Where is the line between inspiration and plagiarism? If I think a recipe is my own, is it really original? Did I test it enough? Did I do enough proofreading?
You know what? I’m done apologizing. I write about cooking because I love it. I’m not a professional – cook, researcher, journalist, food stylist, or photographer. I’m self taught. I learned by reading everything about cooking I could lay my hands on, and trying it out in my kitchen. I learned photography the same way. That’s how I’m learning to write – by writing. I’m sorry if that’s not skilled enough for you.
With that background, I know what a home cook wants. That is what I try to write about. I follow my curiosity, keep reading, and keep learning more about food. I take pictures of what I cook, and try to explain what I learned to my readers. Then I see where I can improve – I read what I wrote, check my pictures, answer questions from my readers. I’m constantly working to get better.
I don’t have a test kitchen behind me, other than the one where I cook all the food and do all the dishes. (OK, my wife and kids help a lot with the dishes.) In the end, all my recipes work – in my kitchen, in my back yard. And they work for everyone who reads this blog, if they read the instructions, then add their own experience and intelligence.
As for “tested recipes”…no recipe is bulletproof, even if it is made one hundred times before publication. Sure, the extra testing increases the odds…but by how much? I’m an accomplished home cook, and I still have disasters when I follow published recipes exactly as they’re written.
Back to your real concern. Unwashed food bloggers like me. “Stay at home moms and accountants with a food hobby.” I am invading your turf, and there’s no one to check my bona fides, to make sure I didn’t sneak in. I’ll probably never get a show on Food TV, a book with a national publisher, or a column in a magazine or newspaper. I’m not sure any of that matters any more, and I think that’s what scares you.
I’m my own publisher, separate from your exclusive tribe of professionals. The only people who matter are my readers – if I write something worth reading, or give them a recipe that works, they come back. If that means I’m faking it, then guess what – it’s working.
Sorry about that, everyone. I know I shouldn’t feed the trolls. I’m done ranting now.
If that wasn’t enough for you, here’s a much better thought out response to that string of insults: Eggs à l’Oignon and a Defense of Food Bloggers
And here’s the post that caught my attention: Do newer recipe writers put the pros out of work?
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