If free internet recipes with long intros bother you so much, buy a cookbook!
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. 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. Food blog creators want to share their stories. 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 life story or backstory bothers you, don't forget that the content 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 “how to make flan” into Google.com and magically all these detailed step-by-step cooking guides 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 food blogs and they use a story to add relevant content to their blog post. You might not like this, but again, you’re getting it for free.
3. Recipe creators are left with few options for monetizing their food blog apart from ads. People that browse free recipes websites rather than buy books, by definition, are not spending money on recipe-related products. Therefore it is difficult to generate income by promoting products, services, or courses. On the other hand, eyeballs on the internet are a magnet for advertisers. Ads are becoming a regular site on blogs of all kinds. Mostly because people refuse to pay for content. Longer recipes are more lucrative because people spend more time eyeballing the content and this means more places for ads to appear.
4. As this article in the Guardian puts it, “food should not be reduced to a to-do list“. Culture and food are interlinked. While the primary job of a food blogger 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
5. JJ Goode of Taste magazine wrote “Instead of the just-the-facts quality of an Ikea instruction manual, [long recipes] can reveal the author’s preferences and biases, express humor or affection or emotional dyspepsia. In other words, it lets the reader get to know the person they’re entrusting with their dinner.” And if you can't see the sense in this, there's no hope for you. If you want recipes without stories or context or meaning, there's always TikTok.
A certain blogger who is obviously unburdened with common sense and better things to do has even created the world’s most boring website. 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 recipes we don't have to pay for.
The concept of “Just recipes, no stories” is toxic to the creator economy
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 content that was created for you, that you don't have to pay for.
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.