Log, Blog, Click & Cook
Log, Blog, Click & Cook, Food. Some eat It. Some Enjoy It. Food. Some eat it. Some enjoy it. Some cook while cribbing. Some enjoy while cooking. Some...
A whole new generation of food lovers are taking to cooking, experimenting with recipes and telling the world about it through their blogs. With more youngsters leaving home earlier than before to pursue education and employment abroad, cooking with the help of food blogs is now as easy as log on, check out food blogs, cook, eat and repeat; in turn making food bloggers world famous.
If you want to jump onto the food blogging bandwagon, bring your passion for food and combine it with your uniqueness. Add a dash of discipline to post regularly and put out a variety of interesting stuff for your readers to keep them engaged.
Food. Some eat it. Some enjoy it. Some cook while cribbing. Some enjoy while cooking. Some love to experiment while some let others do all the cooking and appreciate the efforts. Food is something most people are passionate about. We go to great lengths to get a box of much loved Kakinada kaajalu from a famous store in Kakinada as some travel to obscure places because the tea and samosas served by a vendor at the railway station is unlike anything else.
A whole new generation of food lovers are taking to cooking and experimenting with recipes while giving cooking a whole new perspective. With more youngsters leaving home earlier than before to pursue education and employment abroad, recreating a familiar taste of a home cooked dish is the new mantra. Often this is done with the aid of food blogs rather than the guidance of the matriarch of the kitchen. Digitisation has brought the cook book alive, off the page and firmly onto your computer screen or smartphone app.
Food bloggers are people who write a sort of diary of their culinary exploits and share recipes and pictures, often accompanied by a story. Even those with zero cooking skills quickly do an online search and land up at one of the many thousand websites written in simple language, explaining the recipe step wise, alongside pictures of the dish stage-wise. Making a recipe work in an everyday kitchen as opposed to a studio kitchen is a factor that attracts readers to a blog.
A food blog wins over a recipe book for reference and as blogs contain (mostly) real time pictures and has the assurance that someone has tried it with proof of the result for all to see. The reader also gets to interact with the writer of the blog, making them more accessible. Sailaja Gudivada (www.sailusfood.com) was one of the first food bloggers from India. Based out of Visakhapatnam, Sailu has been blogging for eight years now and has hundreds of recipes on her blog. She receives a lot of feedback (mostly praise) for her easy-to-do detailed recipes. She interacts with her readers on social media and even has an album with pictures that readers send her after trying her recipes in their kitchens.
She says “Sharing recipes with my readers gives me immense joy. Knowing that I am making a positive difference in a person's life propels me to blog consistently”
Siri Pulipaka (www.cookingwithsiri.com) is a Hyderabad - based software engineer by day and an adventurous blogger on the weekends. Living in the US for higher studies and subsequently for work, she missed her mother’s cooking so much that she turned to cooking and blogging to preserve those recipes. She talks of recreating the aroma of freshly ground masalas that her mother would make and documenting it for posterity. Siri loves to use rarely found or exotic ingredients in recipes that are practical. One of her popular posts is pasta that uses a Tunisian hot chilly sauce ‘harissa’ to season vegetables. She says “anyone who has a kitchen should be able to enjoy and recreate my recipes”
Online readers often ask bloggers on how to localise a recipe if they are unable to find an ingredient. Interacting with readers through various social media and through comments on the blog, develops the relationship between reader and blogger. They become your friends in the cyber world. For some bloggers, it is the stories about the food which are as important as the recipe they share. Often, the most popular blogs are ones that reflect the personality of the blogger and give you a glimpse into their life. Even while maintaining anonymity or protecting one’s privacy, the writer develops a relationship with the reader. A case in point is Sailaja, who does not even publish a photograph of herself and prefers her work to do the talking.
Revati Upadhya (www.hungryandexcited.com), a Goa-based food blogger, says “I have a fair amount of readers who don’t even like to cook, but come back to read, watch and drool, I guess”. Writing a believable story that reflects the personality of the blogger is important.
Are food bloggers obsessed about food? Not really. Most have day jobs. Take Preethi Vemu (www.themealalgorithm.com) who is an engineer and works in a software firm. With a busy lifestyle, this Hyderabad-based blogger admits that she struggles to find three hours to make the recipe, write it out, take pictures and post it. She did a very challenging month - long marathon, featuring salads on her blog recently. While it piqued the interest of her readers and continues to be popular, she admitted on her blog that it was quite tough to do and said so in a post. According to her, “I believe that we have to be very honest with our readers.
Revati says in a post she wrote a while ago, “Being a food blogger sometimes just means you have a disproportionately high love for all things food, have the ability to take decent pictures of what you cook, and can string a reasonable story that can hold a handful of people’s attention.” She passes a disclaimer that those who want to visit her inspired by her writing and pictures on the blog should expect a perfect home and pantry. Often she cooks according to what needs to get used quickly from the refrigerator and recipes sometimes need a “second and third attempt before I feel like I can feed it to people at large. Before I feel I can blog it, and tell a story” It is this honesty that endears blogs to their readers.
Hari Chandana from Hyderabad is a full-time blogger and says “I wanted to digitise our traditional recipes. In this journey, I’ve tried and posted many authentic recipes along with various combinations”. She writes www.blendwithspices.com since 2008 and spends about 30 hours a week working on her posts and photography for the blog. She relies on reader feedback and interactions for new ideas and posts.
A lot of bloggers now style and present their blogs like the layouts of beautiful magazines and cook books. They spend time and skill on making their pictures and posts look very professional. According to Sailaja Gudivada, “Good food photography is important as the reader eats with his/her eyes first. The food image should make them feel hungry. If the picture is good, it will inspire them to try the recipe”.
Managing a food blog is serious business. It involves a lot of time and money spent on making everything look good and attract readers. A lot of food bloggers who started with a bang have now defunct blogs because the time needed to maintain them was tough to cull out.
Many bloggers monetise their blogs through advertisements on their blog and writing sponsored posts highlighting a product or a service most often related to food. Engaging with readers and grabbing eyeballs in an increasingly cluttered world is tough. Bloggers also promote their pages and posts via social media through paid for campaigns to get more readership. A lot of curated sites also accept high quality photographs that are submitted by bloggers and serve as an index of recipes.
Interacting with other bloggers and developing a sort of community is also important in the blogging world. A lot of bloggers narrate stories of camaraderie that goes beyond blogging. Many meet in real life and go on to have deep friendships with fellow bloggers and sometimes readers much after they stop blogging actively. Sharing of information and developing a sense of oneness is important amongst bloggers. It opens up myriad cultures and it is not uncommon for a blogger to receive a gift of a particularly hard to source ingredient from across the globe from another food blogger.
Food bloggers are being acknowledged as opinion influencers and they are being taken notice of. Many metro cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad are specially invited to restaurants pre and post launch, at the introduction of new menus or products and their opinion is enlisted for improvement. Having a captive and loyal readership means that the blogger’s verdict is influential on a purchase decision. A downside to this trend is that a lot of bloggers when invited for product or restaurant launches often become a PR exercise and mouth what is expected of them and may not give an unbiased opinion of the product or experience. Andhra Pradesh has a relatively low number of food bloggers, but they are being taken notice of.
Many bloggers have ventured into running culinary classes and becoming home based bakers and caterers, coordinating food product launches, organising and moderating groups on social media and writing for publications professionally. Hari Chandana says she doesn't have any future plans for her blog, she is giving it her best and will take it as it comes. Some like Siri, have been able to reach out to their readers for a greater cause.
All food bloggers will tell you that consistency is an important part of sustaining your blog. If you want to jump onto the food blogging bandwagon, bring your passion for food and combine it with your uniqueness. Add a dash of discipline to post regularly and put out a variety of interesting stuff for your readers to keep them engaged. Photography is important as the blog is a visual medium. However, pricey equipment is not a requirement, but imagination and a bit of creativity is. A blog written by Anand (www.magic-marinade.com) uses only instagram processed photographs taken from a phone and the photographs are as enticing as those on blogs that use some very expensive photography gear.
Food blogging will serve you well. Regardless of whether you are trying to simply document a process, teach yourself to cook, or preserve traditional recipes for posterity. What will come as a pleasant surprise is that the journey will help you discover yourself in the bargain!
(The writer is a Hyderabad - based corporate trainer, food reviewer, coloumnist and blogger. Her blog Escapades can be reached at )