Monday, August 01, 2011

Do Something Well

I'm going to share some thoughts. If you aren't up for that, I don't mind if you click away. Don't worry, I'm not going to post about politics (in any direct way).

I just came from reading at a site where people submit photographs, and a short blurb about things they have preserved. You probably know the site. Aside from some downright dangerous methods of canning, there seems to be a trend for concocting the most outrageous combinations of vile ingredients in some sort of attempt to be...I don't know what. Innovative? Is that being too generous?

What many (many, many) of these posts lacked was (in addition to a basic knowledge of food safety) skill. Bottle after bottle of preserved fruit with so much headspace left at the top you know it will be discoloured and dried out in a month. That's the expertise that qualifies a person posting recipes and directions for something with the potential to cause illness when done improperly? Cookery blogging used to be interesting, but how many times can you read the same tired, phrases to describe garlic lemon fish (Garlicky! Lemony! Imbued! I write for a content farm!) I've stopped trusting random recipes from the Internet, as I now possess enough cooking knowledge to know when something is missing, or will not work. There's a lot that will not work. When you're dealing with preserving, having your recipe fail can mean foodborne illness as well. Fun! Innovative! Botulism is the new Salmonella! I should use more exclamation points!

It is so easy to become distracted by lovely photographs, perfectly posed down to each pea tendril. I enjoy beautiful photography, but food porn is a bit absurd. I particularly can't stand people who assemble light boxes, and what have you to show their homemade Pop Tarts in the best possible light. There's so much beauty in the're standing there for hours posing a toaster pastry? Sometimes I really wish I could go back and delete most of the photographs I've posted. Why post a picture of a curry? As evidence you made it? Because curry ever looks like anything other than a load of vomitus deposited on a plate with rice? Funny cakes, certainly-but why do I feel pressured to snap a picture of something that is at best, unattractive? I don't know. It is probably something I ought to give some thought to. Perhaps I can offer pen and ink drawings instead. I used to be pretty skilled with a Rapidiograph pen.

Everyone posts the occasional flawed recipe, or forgets an ingredient. That's just human error. I'm less sure what to make of the onslaught of content, the hippest, next-biggest-trendy-whatever. Is it just advertising extending to a new reach? Something so new it hasn't been given a name like "viral marketing"? Is it just a bunch of foodie douchebags that think they will be famous if they post a recipe for candied orange peel like they were the first person to happen upon the idea? Oh, but it isn't just any candied peel-it is imbued with the flavour of castor oil! Innovation, lacking knowledge or skill, but compensated for with absurdly optimistic writing and an ungodly number of exclamation marks.

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