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Most cookbooks/food blogs are intellectually bankrupt and written for babies.

  • j

Am I alone in thinking things like pioneer woman are insulting?

It is designed like a kid's book. One picture for every sentence is for the Bernstein Bears, not adults.

Once the heavy weight writers flop over dead (Paula Wolfert, if you read this take it easy on the duck fat) am I going to be left with this kiddie crap?

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  1. Perhaps you're not the target audience. What's "insulting" to you may be instructive to others. Why spit into the wind here?

    1. If you're looking for content that's focused on the writing, you're probably barking up the wrong tree. Food blogs for the most part have long been a a mixed medium - and a personal one at that - where the author can indulge their own enjoyment of food, words, and images, in the style and ratios they see fit.

      Maybe you should stick with books. ( ? )

      1. If you feel insulted it's because you choose to. Nothing compels you to read cookbooks or blogs you consider too basic for you, any more than to read the Berenstain (sic) Bears.

        1. I don't think (using PW's blog as an example) it's insulting. I enjoy the photography and the occasionally amusing narrative.

          Definitely not to be compared with the classics like Marcella Hazan, Julia Child, etc.
          PW's blog and recipes are lightweight and entertaining.

          After all, it's a blog we're talking about, right? To me, a blog is reflective of the author's personality, talents, quirks, interests....

          1. With respect to PW's blog, I can relate to not liking all the photos that accompany recipes. I find it tedious to have to scroll past every. single. step. It's like, where's the damn recipe already!
            I think her photos are amazing, but the pouring of the batter, the swirling of the batter, the batter clinging to the paddle mixer yada yada.
            I don't like site that place large minutiae photos and don't patronize them. It's just too eyeball-rolling for me.

            1 Reply
            1. re: monavano

              I thought the same thing. I went to PW look at the onion ring recipe after seeing it mentioned elsewhere. Saw a boatload of gratuitous pictures, said 'not the site for me' and moved on with my life.

              I really think it would take a huge sense of entitlement for any reader to feel insulted by the existence of a site that isn't their taste. To each their own, right?

            2. Kind of like self-published books. Ever wonder why the authors couldn't find a publisher?

              1 Reply
              1. re: beevod

                There's more potential income from blog advertising revenue than self publishing a book. If you can attract an online audience to read your blog, dedicate themselves to your work, you can make a good living. Self publishing a serious work takes a good deal of know how but if you get beyond the few authors who have attracted advances you'll find that most new writers, even with publishers, don't necessarily wind up successful.

                Not to mention the fact that all printed material is continuing to dwindle and most work is going the way of online web, blog, video or a combination thereof.

                I continue to be surprised by the tomatoes thrown at bloggers, especially those that have "made it"...blogging IS the new publishing medium.

              2. j87, turn on Comedy Central, No Reservations, any number of tv programs. Hit B&N Booksellers and hit the Top 10 reads this month. Thumb thru the hundreds of magazines still struggling to stay afloat and what you'll find is each one operates a blog, each one appeals to a specific audience and each one is in the media game to make $. Don't stop there because YouTube, FB, Twitter they all play a role and reinforce a brand.

                Jane wanna blog is around the corner and Joe hasblogged is making some real $ taking about food in XYZ city. Variety is still the spice of life. Thank god.

                3 Replies
                1. re: HillJ

                  Blogs exist? You must be pulling my leg???

                  My point is they are designed for (and maybe by) babies. They look like kids books.

                  1. re: j8715

                    And my point was you're missing the point....but I was trying NOT to insult you. Believe and think however you like, j87. That's more than cool with me. You're going to miss out on some outstanding blogs tho.

                    1. re: j8715

                      FWIW kids books sell :)

                      If you're looking for quality (based on page views, $ and ratings) this link, including a few food blogs, provides what the world (not just you & me) deems spot on.

                  2. "intellectually bankrupt"

                    New here? Welcome to the internet.

                    1. But just for shits and giggles, here's someone who hates blogs for the opposite reason:


                      Not enough words, too many words... Bloggers just can't get a break up in this biatch. :P

                      1 Reply
                      1. To the OP, do you have now or ever had a food blog? I'm going to say this, assuming the answer is no.
                        It's A LOT OF WORK. It's costly at times, time-consuming and required discipline and determination. I had a food blog for a couple years and the thrust of it was local foods, restaurants and farmers markets. I went to markets, took photos and documented that, bought the food, cooked the food, styled the food, processed the photos, made DH wait for many, many dinners while setting up shoots, wrote recipes, wrote missives and articles, posted photos and missives, read comments, responded to comments...
                        Are you still insulted or do you think you've insulted food bloggers?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: monavano

                          I've had to work really hard over the years to become the good cook I've become, by watching, reading, and listening, repeatedly. When I was young I didn't have a clue how to make much more than tater tot hotdish. I think that basic instructional recipes are very helpful to many people. Look around to see how ethnically diverse the US has become; all those people new to our food culture need good basic lessens on cooking.

                          1. re: SmartCookie

                            I didn't grow up at my mom's apron strings so although she cooked all the time (didn't really consider herself a good cook, but she was!), she really didn't love it. Cooking was cooking, not a metaphor for something else.
                            I really started to pay attention to my cooking and improving my skills over the past 10 years or so.
                            I agree with you. I don't know why so many hate Rachael Ray and put down her cooking. If someone eats homemade food instead of considering a bucket from KFC "family dining" then that's a good thing.

                        2. Good to get that vitriol out of your system?

                          I guess I have the following questions:

                          1. Of whom are you writing?
                          2. What's your expectation that isn't being met?
                          3. Can you back up your assertion with specifics?
                          4. Could you do better? Then please do. Show us whatcha got.

                          In other words, why don't you can the superior-than-thou generalizations and say EXACTLY what's wrong, in your opinion, with "most" blogs and cookbooks?

                          There are a lot of worthwhile writers out there. But of course, you need an open mind to experience them.

                          1. I also want to add that blogging is generally a time and money-suck and I believe most food bloggers are not in it for money or notoriety or what have you, I believe they're in it because it's an outlet for their passion.
                            It takes a lot of passion.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: monavano

                              You go monavano! Patience and passion. Would you turn down the opportunity to earn money at it if offered/given a chance to do so?

                              1. re: HillJ

                                I monetized my site with FoodBuzz. They are a great company. Barely covered costs, but some months it was a nice boost. If I could get a photo to go viral, it was a good month!

                                1. re: monavano

                                  In all cases that I've read where readers are asked about photos/no photos on a blog or website, having photos (including step by step photos) consistently ranks high. Folks prefer visuals. Keep plugging away mona. It took me 25 years to land my first big paying photo gig.

                            2. I believe the adage, "A picture is worth a thousand words" especially when it comes to instructions or something that is procedural like following a recipe.

                              I see blogs like PW as freeze framed version of a TV cooking show.

                              While some people probably argue that cooking shows or anything on TV are for the intellectually bankrupt. We can go back in time and hear the same about movies vs books or live theater. Radio vs Television... etc.

                              They're all forms of entertainment. The value is based upon the individual, but again some people would argue the value of each is based upon the $$$ generated by the masses.

                              1. Full disclosure: I don't read a single food blog on a regular basis. Haven't found one that holds my interest for more than a day or two.


                                There is an entire generation out there of people who **didn't** grow up being taught to cook by Mom, Dad, Grandma, Auntie Sue, the nice lady across the street, or anyone else. Without damning anyone for the whys, there are kids who grew up with after-school carers as their surrogate parents, and were latchkey kids when they were old enough to do so.

                                Those kids are now in college and starting down their career path...and they can't cook. They can make popcorn in the microwave, or can nuke a Lean Cuisine, but they don't cook. And now that times are tough, they've realized that takeout and cardboard nuke food tastes lousy, isn't good for you, and it's expensive.

                                So what to do?

                                Mom and Dad still don't cook -- now that the kids are out of the house, they're off doing whatever...Grandma passed away, Auntie Sue just isn't getting around much anymore, and the nice lady across the street is in a care home. No teachers.

                                So they turn to food blogs, because there someone is telling them how to make edible food themselves that tastes good and doesn't cost a bloody fortune.

                                And they need two pictures to show them how to combine mayo with pesto.

                                None of us was born with a Shun in one hand and a wooden spoon in the other...*WE* all had to learn to cook at some point,..and so do other people, and so they learn however they can.

                                But the wonderful thing is that there are so many people out there learning to cook real food from real ingredients.

                                So if it doesn't challenge or interest you, click on...But PioneerWoman and Rachel Ray have an enormous audience because they very obviously fill an enormous need in the marketplace.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  You said it. My wife taught herself how to cook via blogs and cooking shows.

                                  She was born in the 70's (sometimes the 80's ;), and her parents never showed her how to cook anything beyond boxed macaroni, scorched bangers, and tins of burned beans. She's a good cook now, especially compared to when we first started dating back in the 90's.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    Not to mention the YouTube channels offering cooking shows, food prep, recipes start to finish that also link to blogs, websites, published cookbooks and v-logs on other "channels."

                                    Young people STILL follow what their friends are doing, what trends and fads tell them are HOT and for that reason alone the blogsphere is here to stay.

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      I wish that we still taught cooking in our public schools. As a required course. Menu planning and basic cooking techniques. Sadly, I don't think that is going to happen any time soon.

                                      I teach college students. They cook. A lot. Not necessarily food I want to eat, but they cook. I am always amazed at what they bring in when we have course potlucks. I actually feel a little sorry for the approx 1/4 of students who don't bring in something home made; they often look a bit ashamed. And they talk about cooking before class and on breaks. Once they realize that I like to cook, they start asking me for advice.

                                      I do still think we have a problem. They don't seem to worry much about nutrition. And I don't think they know how to cook cheaply and nutritionally at the same time. But they seem to have more skills and more interest in learning than many people give them credit for.

                                      Now this thread and your post have me interested in asking them where the interest in cooking came from, where they learned, all that. I do wonder if it is changing a bit, if these young folk are getting back to cooking a bit. In the 10 years I have been teaching at my current university, students' reactions to learning I don't have a microwave have changed from horror and disbelief to mild interest and questions like how I keep my lasagna from drying out when I reheat it on the stove top.

                                      1. re: debbiel

                                        I think "college student" and "nutrition" somehow repel one another...I remember some of the utter garbage I ate while in college -- and I ate much more healthily than most of my friends!

                                        But they are cooking...and asking questions...and eventually nutrition will enter their field of vision.

                                      2. re: sunshine842

                                        "There is an entire generation out there of people who **didn't** grow up being taught to cook by Mom, Dad, Grandma, Auntie Sue, the nice lady across the street, or anyone else."
                                        Very true - and this is not the first generation of which this could be said. Immigrants also, especially very young ones, can find themselves having to re-learn basic things in a new place. This is why step-by-step cookbooks were invented, and not so long ago at that. Chapter five of Anne Mendelson's wonderful book Stand Facing the Stove has a great discussion of this:
                                        Agree that blogs are just the current addition to the mix, and as good or bad as their authors. Just like books.

                                        1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                          How old are the jokes about the bride who can only burn toast, and has learn to cook by appealing to their mother in law for recipes?

                                          Italian cookbook author Marcella Hazen hadn't cooked before her marriage, even though she grew up in a cooking family (see her Wiki article). Indian cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey had to write back to her mom in India for recipes when she found herself on her own as a student in the UK.

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            Julia Child couldn't cook when she got married, either.

                                      3. Back in my undergraduate days, we used to describe a certain physics textbook as a 'cookbook', meaning that it taught you how to calculate things, but did not stress understanding or solving problems for your self. 'Intellectual' and 'cookbook' are two terms that rarely go together, since most cookbooks are collections of recipes, and most recipes just give ingredients and steps for using them. I probably have only a half dozen cookbooks that stress understanding over the 'how-to'.

                                        1. There is a market or audience for all types of blogs and I cheer those which have found an audience and success, especially given all the noise out there. There exist plenty of blogs that are not so "mass-market" if you search them out. If you don't like PW then don't read it.

                                          Slamming the medium for the low-brow content is like condemning all novels because of the existence of romance novels.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: janniecooks

                                            Kinda reminds me of what happens in the music industry too, janniec.

                                          2. I don't know, I find some food blogs rather entertaining. Delicious Dishings is written by a young woman who works in the food industry. Her blog is a combination of recipes, restaurant reviews. Check out the baked pumpkin oatmeal, oh yeah. I also like ezra pound cake, she's v. interesting, and I love the name. Just came across Shiksa in the Kitchen, just fun to peruse. I follow DD, she's local to me, so I appreciate reviews I can use.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: CookieLee

                                              CookieLee, thank you for reminding me about Ezra PC, haven't checked in on her blog in ages. Shiksa in the Kitchen is an adorable blog name!