Why Read Food Blogs?


Last night, while hanging out with friends, one of them commented on how much she liked my post Alektorophobia. I was basking in her praise – “your writing has really developed . . . your posts are much funnier…” – when she did a 180. “I didn’t like your post on apricot bread.”

She said something about recipes being boring while I – never one to take constructive criticism or any other kind well –ย childishly thought “I don’t recall asking for your opinion.” As my mind wandered, she said “I don’t read your blog to read about food, I read your blog to read about your life.” Huh?

Naturally, her comment sent my mind wandering down one of its Romanesque winding alleyways. Why exactly do we read food blogs?

Sites like foodgawker and TasteSpotting imply that we like to look at arty pictures of food – food we want to eat, but can’t find, can’t afford, or can’t live with on our hips.

The popularity of healthy living blogs paints a picture of people looking for advice on how to eat, exercise and become or stay healthy and/or thin. Hundreds of thousands of such people apparently really enjoy looking at daily photos of oatmeal, unappealing green smoothie “Monsters” or mushy SIAMs (“Smoothies in a Bowl”). Don’t even get me started on the freaks making crackers out of pulp a.k.a. waste from their juicers or the constant comments from readers bemoaning the fact that money is always so tight while exclaiming that they just can’t live without their $20 nut butters.

I don’t know why others read these blogs, but I know why I do. Like my friend, it’s not for the recipes. While I often find great recipes, print them out and sometimes even make them, if I’m looking for something in particular, I head over to Cooking Light or Food Network; places where I can type in “chicken” and find 350 ways to disguise it. And if a blog is recipes, recipes, recipes, I don’t read it – unless there’s something more.

Voice.

I don’t care how amazing the photos or recipes are, the thing that brings me back to a blog week after week is the blogger’s voice. It’s that glimpse of the blogger that shines through. Salty Seattle is the sassy girlfriend you can rely on getting into a bit of trouble with. Anecdotes and Apple Cores is the genuinely sweet, nice, caring sister or friend you wish you could be – if only your cynicism and smart-ass tendencies would go on vacation. David Lebovitz helps you dream of what your life in Paris could be like – if you could speak French, quit your job and move there.

I’ll read posts about restaurants in states I have no intention of visiting, at least not in the forseeable future. I’ll read about recipes I’ll never make. I’ll even look at your daily photos of oatmeal, if in the midst, you seem like someone I might like if we met in real life. To me, it’s not what you write about, it’s how you write it.

But that’s just me.

Why do you read food blogs? And, why in the hell are you reading mine?

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29 Responses

  1. I actually had a questionnaire running for a while on my blog, which asked this very question.

    The results I got are very much the same as you suggest: Interesting recipes, likeable personalities, fantastic writing and food porn photographs made up the top 4 reasons to return to a food blog.

    You can see the exact numbers here:
    http://www.coffeemuffins.com/understand-your-audience-improving-food-blog/2795/

    It seems to me that other food bloggers will always be interested in recipes, but maybe your friends are following your blog for you, not the food!

  2. It’s interesting to see this point of view. I can’t say fore sure if I agree or not, but it is something I will think about now.

  3. I totally agree that reading blogs transports me to somewhere I want to be, to someone I’d like to be more like, or I get to look at something I’d like to buy/eat/have.

    I like your blog because you are very real about your life…I personally don’t care for many of the “big bloggers” who gloss over things and appear perfect. Whats the fun in that??

  4. I read looking for insight into the people find their own adventures. I love food, so food blog provide a good story and discover new foods and food ideas, I can explore.

  5. amen! i read because the writer draws me in with their personality and flavor for life. sometimes i see a great recipe and write it down, but really i can find those any time

  6. You are precious! I will always be here to give you a dose of some sisterly sweetness. I love visiting your blog because you always inject your posts with honesty, humor and your amazing self. I feel like I “know” you, even though we’ve never met. I blog for the connection, and I know I have one with you ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. I read looking for insight into the adventures people find themselves on. I am passionate about food so food blogs offer both good stories and the discovery of new foods and food ideas that I can explore. I often just look for recipes when pressed for time, but that is a different activity.

    Jason

  8. I mostly read food blogs for inspiration, for dinner, for ideas, for photography tips. There are a few that I definitely identify with more than others, and the personal touches definitely keep me coming back. Food blogs are definitely about the food and recipes more than anything else.

  9. Very interesting indeed. I just had a conversation with another food blogger the other day and she said, ‘I don’t like a huge story…I just want the recipe, damn it.’ so it goes to show that like anything else, it’s individual and personal, our reasons.

    I like the stories of folks I’ve come to know but sometimes admit…I too, just want a recipe, damn it! ๐Ÿ™‚

    However, I’m certain I have gotten to know some people (including Ms. Seattle) and I can not wait for all of it…even if I know I will most likely never do any of it!

  10. Please let me know if you get a “comments closed” response – they should be open.

  11. I love to tell stories, and most of my posts are personal, from my heart essays. The food is like a hearth, a communal fire that attracts people and connects them.
    Most people that read my blog talk about my “stories” and I think they feel obligated to mention the dish I prepared:)
    I tend to read blogs that captivate me with their writing, sometimes witty, sometimes melodramatic, sometimes snarky, sometimes contemplative, but always interesting.

  12. I probably read for the same reason I write – connection. I totally agree with you about the insights and that feeling that you “kinda” know that person and they’ve LET you know them. It’s another version of how people feel about characters on Television shows, except this one is real. We like to connect with peeps who are like us, and learn about peeps who are not. Nice article!

    • A blogger’s writing is leading the pack with why people consistently read food blogs with connection a close second and food bringing up the rear – interesting . . .

  13. Like you, I read food blogs for the voice. I like pretty pictures, and I like finding new recipes to make, but in the end it is the writing that keeps me coming back. I love how food can be the medium that ties so much of life and culture together.

  14. I tend to read for two reasons. (1) I like the person, and I want to see what they’re thinking about. (2) I really like the writing. I’m usually not looking for recipes, unless the writer is a specialist. But I often make things my friends blog about.

  15. We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons. ~Alfred E. Newman

  16. to be inspired, to make friends, to learn…
    LL

  17. Oh looky! My first comment on your blog! (Yes, I have smart-ass tendencies too).

    I read food blogs because I am learning to enjoy and appreciate food much more than I used to. I was once content with takeout and microwave but that changed when my husband and I moved in together last Spring.

    When we started reading food blogs in August and I attempted writing a food blog I found myself better appreciating good food, even if I’d never make it or eat it. I am a highly picky eater (read: I don’t eat onions, garlic, squash, peppers, assorted vegetables, seafood, etc) and reading these things helps me understand it better. I may never eat certain things but at least I can admire the pics.

    But! There is a but. I am like you. If all I see is recipes, recipes, recipes I get bored. I want to see YOU behind the recipe. What inspired you to cook the dish, what about it do you like, who you are both in and out of the kitchen. I feel I know why the person cooks the way they do when I know about them when the oven is off and the meal is gone.

    That’s just my 2 cents. I’ll shaddap now before I write an essay on your blog. Haha.

  18. I am still finding my voice!

    “Hello out there….can anyone hear me?”

  19. I like reading blogs with interesting titles – After begin bombarded with 150 posts a day on Foodbuzz, I normally choose 10-20 who’s title’s appeal to me. ‘Why Read Food Blogs’ stood out today and so I read it, if the blog is messy or hard to read I’m normally leave – great photography can sometimes save the blog, but I’m looking for something interesting – and if it is I’ll buzz it and leave a comment.

    Shari from http://www.goodfoodweek.blogspot.com

    • I know what you mean – the Foodbuzz email bombardment is overwhelming. I find myself subscribing to the blogs I consistently read and then picking others by title. Glad my title grabbed your attention today ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Being a natural storyteller, I tend to gravitate towards the blogs that have something to say other than tell me how to make a delicious item. It connects me with their life and their region ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. The photos grab me, but I stay for the stories…great post.

  22. great commentary on why we read food blogs….its so true we read the blogs of people we connect with, its all about a relationship, whether its 5 miles away or 5000 miles…if we can relate or somehow connect it makes it time well spent
    I read food blogs because I’m a foodie and its what I do!

  23. Very true! So many reasons to visit, from the just ogling food, dreaming about food, and sharing thoughts and perspectives. It’s the stories.

  24. This is very true!!! I visit blogs for the pictures, but i stay at those site for maybe 10 seconds, then there are the others that i visit no matter what everyday, first thing when i sit at my desk and those are the ones that aren’t even about food really.

  25. Good one. It’s true, we put it out there, people read it, but the WHY of it all is a mystery.

  26. I read food blogs because I have a lot of allergies so whenever I find something new that I can actually eat it is pretty exciting.

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