why I don’t run a food blog (and why I don’t read yours)

I’m widely known as being a bit of a foodie. And it’s true, I am. But it’s always been very clear in my mind that this blog shouldn’t be a food blog. I’m not sure exactly what this blog actually is (beyond being mostly dull, self-serving and pointless, as is the nature of blogs) – but a food blog it most definitely is not.

This doesn’t mean that I won’t occasionally write about food. But I firmly believe the world needs fewer food writers, not more. It needs fewer food websites, not another one. And it is perhaps, but only perhaps, less in need of another recipe site than it is of another site devoted to allegedly funny photoshops of cats.

It’s not that I don’t read food blogs – there are a handful that I do – but rather that the internet is already so full to bursting with food blogs of such overwhelming mediocrity that adding another may well cause the entire thing to breakdown completely, unleashing a maelstrom of lolcats and cookie recipes of apocalyptic proportions.

Attempting today to use the internet as a culinary resource is already hellish. A search on nearly any subject will yield a dozen conflicting pieces of advice. Recipes published online tend to be wholesale and unauthorised copies of those published in cookbooks. Where they aren’t, they’re often untested, or obviously strewn with errors, or, worse, non-obviously strewn with errors.

My own utterly unscientific observations are that 99% of food blogs suffer from being laden with impossibly awful food photography, excruciatingly awful writing, or, most frequently, both. This doesn’t mean that as a foodie’s resource the internet is useless – that remaining 1% can be worth its weight in gold. Rather it’s just a recognition that the overall quality of the internet’s food writing is dire and an acceptance that I do not cook, photograph food, or write well enough to do anything other than make the problem worse.

Despite this, I may still occasionally write about food – after all, I spend a lot of my life cooking, or eating, or thinking about what to cook next, or what to eat next, or reminiscing about the last time I ate something truly extraordinary. Never writing about something that dominates so much of my time and thought would be strange indeed.

But while I may occasionally write about food, as I am now in a meta kind of way, I’ll offer up this pledge – I’ll never post a recipe, I’ll never post a food photograph, and I’ll never post a restaurant review, though I reserve the right to continue to do all these things, badly, on my Twitter account.

And now, a list of truly invaluable internet food resources and food blogs – my pick for the 1% of the writing worth reading:

  1. eGullet – Probably the single best food community on the internet
  2. Chowhound – The discussion boards at chow.org, and a fantastic reminder that lively and engaging discussion is still possible on the internet without immediately devolving to the level of YouTube comments
  3. Ruhlman – An opinionated and polarising figure, but probably the most talented food writer I’m aware of today. Neither a chef nor even a particularly good cook, but an extremely talented author with a palpable obsession with food, cooking and the craft of the kitchen.
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