Recipe versus Review

    Today I make a list to re-evaluate my blogging life.

    Recipe posts:

    • A lot of room for personal story
    • A lot of control with pictures: position, setting (decoration, utensil, plating), lighting, time (time of the day, amount of time for taking picture), camera equipment (unless you’re brazen and bring a tripod into the restaurant, some people do that, and I know some people who dislike people who do that)
    • Single product – cost efficiency
    • No partner necessary, although a helpless victim test subject friend might be useful
    • Almost always a good result
    • Experiment: you can do things a thousand times, talking about your experiments also makes a good story (example: tofu misozuke experiment by Oanh and Linh-Dang at Rau Om)
    • Relevance to readers: high – almost everyone can follow a recipe if they want to


    • Finding the ingredients
    • Setting up and cleaning up: the nightmares untold tales
    • Making your recipe unique
    • Cooking – the kitchen is a battlefield

    Review posts:
    1. Restaurant reviews:

    • Everything is set up and cleaned up, you don’t have to lift a finger except to eat.
    • Possible interview/friendship with the chefs – I’ve yet to attain this level, but professional food bloggers like the Food Gal Carolyn Jung do it all the time, and information from/about the chefs adds credibility to the post.
    • If the restaurant is just average, it’s good practice to hone your writing skill because you have to think of something to write out of nothing.


    • You have to eat a lot, have a lot of friends who tolerate your behavior, or go to one restaurant multiple times.  It may upset your boss (due to the time you spend eating) and/or your bank account.
    • Less time for pictures: annoy inconvenience your dining partner(s), unless they’re also food bloggers.
    • Pictures can be either very good or very bad, depending on the plating and the lighting, which are totally out of your control.
    • You have the same pictures as everyone else who go to the same restaurant (or the same type of restaurant, because every bowl of grilled pork vermicelli looks just like the first google image you find)
    • Mental debate: how nice should you be? Too nice –> your reviews are no good, and you risk hyping up the restaurant, then someone goes there, they don’t like it and you lose your credentials. Too critical –> nobody likes you.
    • Availability/relevance to readers: very limited –> low traffic
    • Hard to think of a personal story when you review the 67th Korean restaurant, which has the same menu as the 43rd and the 66th.

    2. Product reviews:

    • Availability/relevance to readers: medium to high, a large number of people can buy the same thing you buy, thanks to globalization
    • Cost: pretty cheap, and you don’t produce anything –> no prep work, no cleanup, no time spent making it
    • Flexibility: high – pictures can be taken any time, anywhere, anyhow
    • Single product – no partner necessary
    • There’s room for personal story, e.g., how you run into this product. Although this is hard to come up with times after times when your objective is simply to eat every Ben and Jerry ice cream flavor there is.
    • Room for facts: show off your expertise (at the very least, in googling). This also greatly expands your knowledge in “related fields”. I learn more Chinese looking up the Suzhou mooncake than if I ever try to just sit down and learn Chinese.
    • Possible interview with the producers: always an eye-opening experience


    Conclusion: for these past 4 years I’ve chosen the worst possible kind of food blogging… And I shall not change.
    Did I miss anything in the list?

    You will also like:

    4 comments to Recipe versus Review

    • Bob

      The cultural and personal story of the food you eat and the food you do not eat. The emotional response to what you do with food.

    • Mai

      Oh yeah, that’s really the essence of all food blogging though, isn’t it?

    • Bob

      I dunno, in a way, I just started to keep track of what I am cooking.

    • Mai

      Maybe you don’t intentionally do it, but your posts do include everything from emotional response to cultural view, it’s definitely not as simple as a mere recipe. So while keeping track of what you’re cooking, you also keep track of your personal thoughts on it. 😀

    Leave a Reply

    You can use these HTML tags

    <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>