No recipe today, but instead an article which is a little bit more personal. After almost 3 years blogging, I noticed a bunch of very weird and often funny things a food blogger does. Whether you are a food blogger yourself or just a regular reader, let me show you today the backstage of Del’s cooking twist.
I am often asked how often I publish on my blog and people are generally surprised when I tell them that it is really hard to keep up the publication several times a week (especially with a full-time job on the side). Discover below the hidden part of the iceberg (the iceberg being the recipe you find on the blog – a simple text with all the trimmings, and often a crisp picture that looks easy to take):
1. Your kitchen cabinets are a flea market: whereas a regular household has one or two different sets of plates in the kitchen, a food blogger likes to play (a lot!) with different plates and kitchen accessories. You don’t want to use the same plates over and over again for every recipe on the blog. Food has to be appealing and the choice of kitchenware (shape, color, material) to display on your pictures does matter. As a result, you end up buying many mismatched plates and silverware, glasses and cups, dishcloths, cooking tools, straws, trays, in only one or two designs each time. My kitchen cabinets are a mix between regular plates found in stores, second hand items that give a little vintage touch, and handcrafted ceramics from a local workshop in my neighborhood (I feel so privileged!).
2. Your food pantry is full of weird ingredients: a food blogger loves to discover and try weird ingredients that you probably never heard of or wouldn’t have in a regular food pantry. Yuzu powder, tonka beans, matcha green tea powder, coconut oil/butter/sugar, cacao nibs, many superfoods (spirulina, goji berries, chai seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, acai, turmeric root, bee pollen, dried mullberries, maca powder…), etc.. My boyfriend has long given up on opening my food pantry! But it doesn’t matter, I’m still crazy about all these little things that I discover. Recently I tried a jackfruit: have you tried it already? Don’t be fooled, it looks and almost tastes like pulled pork/chicken but is actually a real fruit!
3. You have endless to-do recipe lists that you will never have time to make: I am often asked if I sometimes run out of inspiration for new recipes. This question keeps surprising me every time since I have the opposite problem. My recipe wish list is much longer than the time I actually have to make them (or at least to make them for the blog, which requires more time as well as other skills than the only cooking/baking skills). Pinterest is very frustrating for that: I can spend hours scrolling for new recipes and add my very favorite (I’m very selective) to my recipe wish list, but for maybe 90% of them, I will never have time to make them anyway!
4. Your kitchen is a mess each time you make a new recipe for the blog: have you ever seen a food blogger preparing a recipe for their blog? When you read a food blog, you only see the final result, often a picture that looks clean and crisp, nothing difficult. Well, just so you know, behind this lovely pic, you have a wonderful mess in the kitchen! Not necessarily the mess you create for the recipe itself (personally I am quite organized when it comes to this aspect), but the one that goes with the food styling you create for the pictures. I always have all my different plates, different silverware, and paraphernalia (straws, napkins, sieves, cloths of different colors, cutting boards of different colors), fresh cut herbs to display on top of the dish at the last minute, some tips and tricks to make the food more appealing, etc. In the end, the kitchen is a happy battleground, and somehow, it is fun as well. I almost feel like an artist in a studio sometimes!
5. You assume the oddest positions to take mouthwatering pictures: to get the perfect food picture is quite a challenge! Some people use a tripod and stick to it as much as possible, others, like me, prefer to be the tripod itself (my control freak side, probably!). This means that I can be in very funny positions to take pictures in my little improvised kitchen studio. The first times, I did that in front of my boyfriend and felt a little bit embarrassed, but now it has just become a habit, nothing weird in stretching yourself in the most impossible positions to get the perfect picture. I shoot in manual as often as I can, which means that I also need to freeze myself a few seconds in these positions. Yes, a food blogger does exercise at the same time, no need to go to the gym (or almost)!
6. Natural light becomes an obsession: food photography is a very important part of the food blogging activity, since we eat with the eyes first. Food needs to look real, colorful, appealing, and to get to this result, there is nothing better than using natural light. Of course in a professional studio you can recreate this atmosphere but most of us don’t have this equipment (at best a miniature one sometimes), so the other alternative is to play with natural light. There are many books and tutorials that explain how to get the perfect lighting in your pictures, but theory aside, the best is to practice food photography as often as possible and you will get to learn which time of the day is the best for shooting your pictures, depending on the orientation of the kitchen and the season of the year. No direct sun, no shadows, no grey days… For me who lives in Sweden, light is an even more difficult challenge in Winter with only 2 or 3 hours around noon to catch natural light for pictures.
7. No matter how hungry you are, you will never eat your dish before you get the perfect picture: nowadays, everyone is used to taking pictures before trying their food at a restaurant or at home, and instagram it straight away. But think that for a food blogger, the challenge is even more daunting. We don’t only put a dish on a table and take a picture that we can then brighten up with some filters or other contrast tools. We do a little bit more than that: as a food blogger, pictures lend a personality to your blog, and you have to create a perfect set up around (what we call food styling). And most of the time, we use different pictures for each recipe so we have to approach different angles, slice the cake, grab a slice with a fork and so on… In the beginning, it could take me hours to get my perfect pictures. Now that I am a bit more familiar with all this, it goes much faster but still takes some time. And believe me, you don’t even think about touching the food before you are ready with your pictures, that’s the rule!
8. You are an obsessional food-nerd: food blogging implies a recipe, a picture, and a blog that generally comes along with many social media that helps promote your blog. Have you ever tried to check what the Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook account of a food blogger looks like? Yes, it’s all about food, everywhere! I think that on my Instagram, 95% of the accounts I follow are linked to food! We are e-food connected in every little things of our lives. And I don’t even mention here all the other social media that exist only for food and in which we are also part of (Food Gawker, Tastespotting, etc.). We become an obsessional food-nerd, and we also spend a lot of time playing with tools that serve our food blogging activity (Photosphop, light room, pic monkeys are among these tools that we can’t live without).
9. You recreate the recipe of every new dish you try in a restaurant: as a food blogger, your creativity is endless, you can’t help it. Each time I go to the restaurant and try an unusual dish (because I often go for an unusual one), I pay attention to the food styling first, and then I totally deconstruct the dish that I am enjoying, trying to guess the magic in the cooking preparation that brought so much flavors to this dish… Inspiration is key, and each time I have a recipe idea in mind, I can spend hours thinking of the best way to create the recipe the way I really want it. It’s not even food anymore, it’s all my senses that are solicited to come up with the best dish possible. And yes, sometimes I even dream in my sleep about food and how I create my recipes… my brain never rests!
10: Your friends expect so much of your cooking/baking skills: now each time you speak food with your friends, you become the culinary expert, basically the de facto chef. They ask you if you know about this new trendy food, this cooking technique, and so on… Of course you don’t want to disappoint them and you put an extra pressure on yourself to make your recipes look and taste as good as the ones on the blog! I often volunteer to bring dessert or part of the menu when I am invited somewhere, and somehow I have the feeling that my friends expect a lot from me and I must not disappoint them (maybe it’s just a feeling, but still…). But in the end, what a feeling when you see their glowing faces when trying your food!
And you, what are your quirks? Feel free to leave me a message in the comment section below!
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