Stick A Fork In It (Or: When Food Blogs Stopped Being Food Blogs)

Modern food blog convention would dictate that this post should begin with a picture. In fact, it’s a bit of a suicide mission to write a post without one. I went on to Google images (a risky proposition, because you can get sued for using someone else’s image) and then thought against it. The whole picture-at-the-top-of-a-post instinct is a byproduct of the very phenomenon I’m here to decry: the death of food blogs as food blogs and their reemergence as newfangled newspaper food sections and magazines.

Don’t believe that’s happening? Consider this: Eater.com, one of the most significant food blogs in existence, just hired three full-time restaurant critics. Meanwhile, the most popular recipe blogs are looking more and more like magazines. Can you really detect a difference between the imagery and presentation on blogs like Smitten Kitchen and 101 Cookbooks from the imagery you find in Martha Stewart Living or, more aptly, Bon Appetit?

As food blogs grow more and more professional, I’m left with a feeling of nostalgia for the “anything goes” era of blogging. That looseness, that scruffiness, was why food blogs were such an appealing alternative to more traditional media. Now, more and more, new media is becoming like the traditional media we were there to displace. I find it ironic that the only person, these days, who seems to be blogging like a real blogger–casually, by the seat of her pants, unconcerned about perfect images or prose–is a former newspaper restaurant critic and magazine editor-in-chief, Ruth Reichl. Her blog is the most blog-like food blog going.

When did we all switch places? Is it even possible to be popular now and not have your food blog look like something you’d pay for in print?

You may have noticed that, lately, my posts have become more casual. I’m taking pictures with my iPhone, not my SLR. I’m less fussy about recipes. What I’m doing, in fact, is trying to recreate the feeling that my blog is a natural extension of myself, not a super polished beacon for my brand. I don’t want to have a brand, I just want to have a blog. But those days, it seems, are over.

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