In the last few years, I've seen plenty of “influencers” and “journalists” from trash publications like the Huffington Post whine and moan about the recipes they find online. The complaint usually goes something like this, “Why can't you just give us the goddamn recipe already” or “I don't want to know your life story, recipe please!”.
I'd like to point out that we're talking about free content on the internet. Free content that anyone with an internet connection can access. Food bloggers pour their hearts and souls, and hours of their time into producing recipes that people can use and enjoy without spending a penny.
So what's everyone complaining about? Well, entitled people will always complain. Some people are so completely lost in their own self-importance they believe that the internet should provide for their lifestyle of sloth and ignorance.
The same people that complain about having to spend two extra seconds on a recipe are the same ones that use book summary apps like Blinkist, an app designed to make people shallow, less-informed, and bursting with one-liners suitable for Instagram and internet memes.
Here’s why people add backstories and intros
1. Recipes can represent moments in people's lives and hold special personal significance. Bloggers want to share their story. It might annoy you to have to read these stories but here's something that will shock you: some people enjoy the anecdotes. And if the backstory bothers you, don't forget that the recipe is free for you to read and use.
2. Google rewards unique content. The fact that this recipe even surfaces in the search results (you know, when you type “easy flan recipe” into Google.com and magically all these free recipes appear) is a testament to the quality of the article. A list of ingredients with basic instructions might rank well in the search results. But this generally only happens with very large, authority sites. Unless you’d like every single recipe on the internet to come from the bland megacorp called allrecipes.com be glad that Google considers relevant, interesting, and unique content to be more important than generic, me-too content. Or worse, copied content.
Food should not be reduced to a to-do list
So how does a recipe creator get noticed? They write something that won’t appear on other blogs and they use a story to add relevant content to their recipe. You might not like this, but again, you’re getting it for free.
3. Recipe creators are left with few options for monetising apart from ads. People that browse free recipes websites rather than buy books, by definition, are not spending money on recipe-related products. So promoting products, services, or courses is not lucrative. On the other hand, eyeballs on the internet is a magnet for advertisers. Longer recipes are more lucrative because people spend more time eyeballing the content. This is one of the reasons why some authors do not include a “jump to recipe” button.
4. Like this article in the Guardian says, food should not be reduced to a to-do list. Culture and food are interlinked. While the primary job of a recipe creator is not to educate the public on world culture, there are many readers, myself included, who enjoy reading about the origins of a dish. When you cook a dish for friends and they ask you about it, what will you say? “Oh, I know nothing about this delicious dish that my respected friends are asking about. All I know is that it has 6 ingredients and 7 steps”. Hmmm
A certain blogger who is obviously unburdened with common sense and better things to do has even created the world’s most boring recipe site. It's wittily called Give Me the F*cking Recipe. Making a bold statement while being too feeble to actually use a swear word kind of makes them look dumb. I won't link to the site because, well, it's fucking awful (there I said it. That was easy)
Don't like the intro? There's an easy way to remove the burden of reading from your life: Pay for a cookery book, like we used to before the internet gave us free recipes.
No Such Thing as a Free Lunch Recipe
Sorry, influencers: the recipes you read online are not magically created by Google or Instagram (for now). People spend time and money creating recipes for you. And you complain about having to scroll through the introduction and backstory to get to the recipe that was created for you, for free. Did I mention you get the recipe for free?
Is it so much effort to thumb swipe twice? Maybe three times is your limit. But it shouldn’t be. Your entire social life and your complete internet experience happen via the swipe. Those thumb muscles of yours should be pumped. A bit of extra scrolling won’t make any difference to your well-tuned ADHD-like, shallow browsing habits.
Here’s something you can do about it, folks? Buy a recipe book like we used to do. But you won’t pay for it. It's much easier to complain and hope that the hard-working food bloggers of the internet change to suit your vision of the world.