I think it’s fair to say that there can sometimes be a touch of animosity between food bloggers and the food businesses we write about. This is understandable, as no one starts out in hospitality thinking they want to run a crap restaurant and equally, no one starts out writing about food thinking they are going to produce crap writing. Otherwise, why on earth would we all keep doing what we’re doing?

Writing about blogging about food
Lately the foodie/food blogger backlash has been growing. Food blogging is increasingly being written about as a no-holds-barred free-for-all where uneducated nobodies who haven’t done the hard yards and thus aren’t entitled to their opinion put in their two cents. Chefs weigh in, journos weigh in, characterising us as annoying, inexpert, opinionated, lacking in standards and constantly compromising our own credibility. True, we have also occasionally been written about in a positive light, such as articles like this and this where we have been characterised as ‘championing’ little known cuisines/suburbs or letting people in on food ‘secrets’, or in this article, where bloggers and the food industry actually (gasp) work together. But by and large it’s been an alarmist, ‘they’re taking our jobs and our free dinners’ panic-fest of slapdash writing.

Anti-social media
I hesitate to give any more attention to an already lame subject, but this campaign for me highlights what’s wrong with this whole not-really-outright-war-but squabble-thing that flares up every now and then between those that make/serve/promote food and those that consume/review/write about it. It’s cheap. It’s tacky. It’s divisive. And for a brand that has made liberal use of food bloggers in the past and continues to maintain a strong social media presence, it’s downright confusing. Especially when, only 1 day after the campaign launched, they were inviting prominent food bloggers to try out their product.

What’s wrong with this particular campaign goes beyond hurting peoples’ feelings, beyond hypocrisy. Social media, chums. Look it up. It’s interactive, it’s about communication, it’s about networks. People will talk and you might not like what they have to say. Ok, so the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about, but if the people discussing you won’t buy your burgers, what’s the point?

Foodies as wankers
A recent article, where an old school journalist tracks a cutting-edge foodie, Diane Chang, eating, drinking and spending for a week, got me thinking. She’s characterised as vapid, shallow and elitist; some of her quotes you would not believe,  well beyond the realm of shit foodies say.

There is no doubt that food has become a hip young trendy urban ‘thing to do’. But does this invalidate it as a hobby, an interest, a persuit? Something tells me we shouldn’t disregard this zeitgeist, and here’s why.

For the love of food
If you talk to food writers about why they blog, how they got started, their reasons have much in common. In fact, it’s almost a cliché. In the article, Diane touches on her childhood and on the experience of ‘discovering’ food, something we can all identify with. It’s kind of trivialised, but there is a genuine association and real relationship between food and memory that strikes a chord in all of us. We blog for the love of food. That may sound trite, but it’s true.

I remember mixing the cake batter, precariously balanced on a kitchen stool while my mum stood watch.
I remember the first time I learned to froth milk, my boss looking over my shoulder. The pressure!
I remember baking pavlova for my Texan housemate, and the look of pure joy that spread across her face at her very first bite.
I remember cooking my first ever roast chicken with my boyfriend, in our tiny coackroach riddled terrace.

In short, I remember food, and that is no small thing.

You can read Dianna Chang’s response to Michael Idov’s article here.

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15 Responses to Foodie backlash

  1. Diane’s response to that NYT piece shows how misrepresented she feels the whole article was.


    Probably no different than a lot of other articles written on the subject.

    • Lau says:

      Thanks for the link! I will add it to the post.

      I actually loved Michael Idov’s article, it was beautifully written, a study of ‘the new breed of foodie’, but he definitely had his story mapped out before he began researching/writing. It was a lot more involved than the usual crap people write about food bloggers, that’s for sure.

  2. Flick Your Food says:

    This topic is controversal depending on who you talk too. I loved the rebuttle that Diana published- very honest.
    Social media is a large part of today, especially with the development of smart phones. Most people Would check Facebook or twitter at least 2 times a day. I feel most people who are social media savvy enjoy food blogging contribution. Besides, look at the number that read food blogs. I definitely agree with your final statement on social media.
    Flick Your Food recently posted…Henschke & Blackmore

  3. Lolly says:

    Well written article. Very true.

    I run by the belief that if I have nothing nice to say, don’t blog it. I will be honest, but I will try not to be harsh, catty, or nasty. I have to choose my words/language carefully. I clearly state in my about me / faq section that I am no food critic, rather I just want to share my dining and food experiences with whomever will read or hear it.

    I’m sorry, but who decided the prerequisites to have an opinion on food ??
    Lolly recently posted…appliances – kitchenaid artisan stand mixer

    • Lau says:

      I agree! We all eat, surely food is something we all have an opinion on. Sure, some opinions are better considered than others, some people have more expertise than others, and so forth.

      I think a lot of the time these articles deliberately misunderstand the medium of food blogging. Over and over again, I hear food bloggers say they are there to share their recommendations, not to critique. We want to share our experiences, ‘I went here, here’s what I thought’ as an extension of what we are doing already in our daily lives.

      There are some bloggers who are critics, that’s fine, and yes there are some who are also food critics or food journalists, or who want to be, and that’s fine too. But food blogging is not about pretending to be a journo, or ‘stealing’ journo’s jobs. Many food writers for major papers are trained journalists who have no food training of any kind.

  4. eatmeetswest says:

    I eat food. I cook food. I like food. I have an opinion on food. Therefore I get to talk about it to whoever reads me (mostly by choice, unlike in newspapers).

    If anything, I’m probably overly forgiving to places because I used to work in them and I know what happens when you have a bad day.

    I’m just gonna keep on with how I do :) Great piece!

  5. Cleo says:

    Diane wrote an articulate, thoughtful (and understandably a little defensive) response. She seems much less frivolous and precious about food and a more interesting acperson than she did in the article. But we all know people who are annoyingly precious and ridiculously, pretentiously obsessed with all things food-trendy’ right? And if it’s fair game for bloggers to write opinions about food, it’s fair game for others to write about bloggers (anyone over-generalizing is probably not being fair).

    In fact it’s the attacks on bloggers that can be unfair, the lumping and scorning and trying to discredit food blogging per se. But I think anyone who has an opinion about a blogger or a post – how true it is, how informed or interesting it is, how useful it is, etc., is aiming at a legitimate target. That is, writing and publishing, in whatever form’ says, “This is what I think, what do you think about that?”

    It should go without saying that you don’t have to listen to, and certainly aren’t obligated to publish abusive nonsense. Actually I don’t think a blogger should feel obligated to publish anything negative about her work (let them blog away on their own spot), but it says something about the person who’s not afraid to.

  6. I love that food blogs have given her a chance to respond.

    Now, when do we get the restaraunt/chef perspective on the story?
    Detective Chow recently posted…The Confession

  7. Miss Piggy says:

    It’s all quite tiresome isn’t it! My blog is a hobby – I like food, photography, writing a diary and eating out…so I’ve decided to combine them all. I try to be honest in my opinions, but I am aware that it’s in the public domain so I would never bad mouth someone’s business…
    Miss Piggy recently posted…La Bodeguita, CBD

  8. Pub Diaries says:

    As mainstream print turns toward the web the lines will be blurred more and more. Everyone gets a start somewhere and the blogger community is broadly split into those who see it as a hobby pursuit while others would like to see it develop. Journos need to look at their own industry issues before striking out at bloggers. Chefs and owners of certain ilk need to get a grip also. Yes you’re trained but we all eat, we all have tastes, we all opinions and fundamentally we can distinguish between one opinion and another whether on a blog, in print via twitter.
    Pub Diaries recently posted…Cannonball Run Returns: Hop Shoot Festival

  9. I had a comment on a post recently that suggested they wouldn’t trust my judgment (sic) unless I was a chef. It was full of obscenities and 3075 characters long. My friends think I’m crazy for spending hours and hours a week writing my blog (although they love reading it), but I had to wonder who was crazier, me, or the guy who spent 5 minutes reading my writing and then the next 10 abusing me about my opinion. The review, as most of mine do, outlined the positive points of the restaurant, threw in a few photos and ended on a happy note. I was being criticised for not being negative about the restaurant, somebody’s livelihood, and one of Sydney’s top eateries still to this day. Who forced him to read my blog? Certainly not me.

    I’m not one to destroy the reputation of somebody who has put their heart and soul into a restaurant. I give honest reviews and try to find the positive in every visit, although you’ll get the picture if it’s not a “rave” review where the others are. Certainly, I’d love to have a place of my own one day and I hope that bloggers, diners and chefs alike would treat it with the same respect.

    At the end of the day, everyone has their own opinion, and you can’t please everyone. Reading scathing reviews can be amusing but I feel happy to not be part of it. I always write assuming that one day the chef will read my words, and keeping in mind how they’d feel about it.

    Ultimately, I love food. Ordering it, reading about it, photographing it, talking about it, writing about it… The list is endless. Take it or leave it.

    Great article. x
    kitti@thescreamingartichoke.com recently posted…Agapé Organic Restaurant March Love Feast – Raw, Vegan and Gluten Free

  10. Gaby says:

    Great post Lauren. I think people tend to generalize and attack what they don’t understand.
    Gaby recently posted…Recipe: Salchicha criolla (Peruvian-style pork sausage)

  11. SarahKate says:

    Really good post. The thing is, I don’t think any of us bloggers are claiming to be experts. We’re simply documenting our own experiences and sharing them with people who have similar interests. Folks who don’t get this, or who take the whole thing (and themselves!) too seriously, need to take a deep, cleansing breath!
    SarahKate recently posted…Treats for the train

    • Lau says:

      I think you’re right. Yeah, there are many food bloggers who *do* want to be professional food writers. More power to them , I say (and what’s so scary about that?). But many of us don’t. At all. Our aims are totally different and I don’t think the same criteria apply.

      I’m not talking about things like stealing content or misrepresenting yourself either – those things are never ok, in journalism, blogging, in life. But we don’t always review, we don’t always critique, and I don’t see why that is not ok.

  12. […] glowing praise. Over at Corridor Kitchen, it was recently posited that the restaurant industry is down on food bloggers; I can’t imagine why. When was the last time you saw a food blogger say they had a lousy night […]

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