There’s a controversy on the International Association of Culinary Professionals blog. In a post titled Opinion: Faking It, Amy Reiley upset some people when she gave her opinion of high-profile companies that pay bloggers to write recipes for them and publish those recipes without proper testing.
It was an emotional piece, and she ended up insulting many food bloggers when she said that “professional journalists, researchers, home economists, recipe developers, food stylists, and photographers are getting aced out of much needed work in our chosen field by stay-at-home moms and accountants with a cooking hobby.”
I encourage you to read the whole blog post and the discussion that ensues in the comments section if this has caught your attention — but not before you finish this.
As a food blogger, I read Reiley’s post and the comments with interest, but I’m not worked up about Reiley’s opinion. However, one of the comments, written by someone named Jaden, really caught my attention.
A blog is a journal. If our great grandparents didn’t journal their recipes, often in language that wasn’t exact (“add some butter”) - cooking wouldn’t be an art form. We’d have very little to work on.
With those words, it occurred to me that I’m leaving a culinary legacy for future generations of my family right here on Mother Nature Network and on my personal blog. Instead of a handwritten book like the one that I have stuffed full of recipes handed down from my grandmothers and great aunts, I’ll be handing down a digital record of what I cooked (and a whole lot more). If it’s accurate that nothing you put out on the Internet ever truly disappears, hundreds of years from now, the recipes that I shared online will still be available.
Sometimes, I use the recipes that have been handed down in my family, like my grandmother’s Christmas cookie recipe that I shared with you a few years back. Sometimes, the recipes are scribbled in such a way that I can’t figure out what was being made. Sometimes, the language, as Jaden pointed out, isn’t exact. I have one for what seems to be a 1970s beef casserole. The instructions say to take stuffing mix, moisten it with hot water to make it stick together, then add it to patties of ground beef. Those patties were to be formed into big balls and have a combination of cream of mushroom soup, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce poured on top and baked in a casserole. Those are the instructions.
Recipes like those are the culinary legacy left to me, and I cherish them (even if I don’t cook from them.) In those recipes, I can see the culinary trends that my family followed; cream cheese or cans of cream of mushroom soup were in almost everything in the recipes that look like they’re from the 1970s. The majority of the recipes that have meat in them call for ground beef.
I imagine that future generations will look at today’s food blogs and think, “Bacon was in everything in the 2010s and they made everything try to look like a little popsicle.” Future generations will have a larger legacy handed down to them than I’ve had handed down to me. I can only see my family’s recipes. Future generations will be able to see recipes from every food blog published — not just ones by their family members.
If you’re a home cook, how are you leaving a legacy for future generations? Do you keep a blog? Use a digital method to keep the recipes you collect? Handwrite recipes in a book? A little of each?