A Rant on Bad Riting

by Rodzilla on May 7, 2012 · 25 comments

Lately I’ve been bothered by the amount of terrible food writing I come across. Whether it come from a professional news source, an amateur blog, or anything in between, the amount of garbage content that I see has been increasing at an alarming rate. So the chocolate chip caramel bars at the top of this post are just to grab your attention. Now that I hopefully have it, let’s talk about shitty food writing.

Tonkotsu Ramen at Hinotez from a meal with with a @yaowong of insert-food. Check his site for great writing/photography.

Now, I’m not claiming that my writing is on par with Mark Bittman and the like, but it is at least above the level of a second grader with English as a second language. Some of the shit I’ve seen would be criticized by kids who still have to sound it out before they can make sense of it. So I’m going to use this post to highlight some of the most common problems I’ve been seeing.

Your Descriptions Suck – This is the by far the most common offense. Let’s get a few things straight.
-Crunchy is not a taste
-Yummy is not a texture
-Ommy-nommy is not a fucking word, and is deserving of a punch in the mouth.

Sprinkles cupcakes from @erinjax - one of the best I know. Use her as an example ejeats.com

You’re Dragging it Out – If you’re going to write at some length about a particular item, try to do so efficiently.  Your description of the cherry flavor from your box of popsicles should not be dragging on for more than a paragraph. Further, depending on the complexity of the item(s) it should be covered in one review. If today’s review is grape kool-aid, and I’m supposed to check back another time for orange, guess what? Nobody cares and….nobody cares.

Brown Butter Rice Krispies from Kitchen Konfidence - another good example.

Your photos suck ­– alright, this isn’t writingper se, but it’s probably the second largest problem I see. Get yourself a clean background – don’t have ketchup stains, and crumbs all over your work space..and get that sticker off your poster board. If that feels too plain, table-scape that shit. Hey, add a storm trooper! Just make sure it’s clean, and make sure it’s clear. We all had that first LG camera phone back in 2001 man…time to upgrade.

boxed

Takeout from Sushi Ota...yeah I really did that.

So that was just some quick and general advice. If you would like a thorough analysis on why your shit is horrendous how to improve your content, feel free to get in touch for a private consultation. I may be heavy on the criticism, even offensive, just remember it’s constructive.

Now, you might be saying, “Well your site isn’t perfect Mr. Rodzilla!” and you’re absolutely right, Street Stang Tiffani, it’s not. In fact, I get routine critical (and creepy) emails from an online stalker, but hey, at least I’ve got one…and with a little work, you can too.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Candy

Can I be starker, number 2?
Brilliant article, but may I add poor recipe construction? Ingredients out of order, poor cooking instructions and bad cooking techniques?
Love, Suzy Homemakker

2 Steve

Well said. I personally enjoy it when foods are “flavorful” and there ends the description. Or “has a lot of great flavors.” Or “good” with no qualifiers what so ever.

I also don’t like it when a picture of a prepackaged product is taken, obviously in someone’s home, and the photo still looks like crap. White posterboard costs less than a dollar. And I use a point and shoot I’ve had for like 8 years.

Also, I enjoy the reading of good writing. And don’t care for “review” blogs that sample every kind of food imaginable and jot down two or three sentences for the sake of churning out posts and content.

(Also I hope I am not one of those who is being called out! If I am, I will do better!)

3 Steve

And please fix those typos for me. It’s early.

4 Rodzilla

Suzy – Thank you. You may. Love, Rod

Steve – agreed. You’re a favorite. Will do, and allow me to fix my link to storm trooper (hence storm trooper mention).

5 Lisa

lol. ommy-nommy. you slay me!

6 Pavlov

I found this post to be YUMMO! and I’m sure the next one will be DELISH as well… Yeah, well I’ve pretty much just had it with any and all “recipe” driven blogs. This is a personal taste thing, I’m just saying… I don’t get it. Even worse… the sites that don’t even have their own recipes, but rather…”cook the book!” GMAFB! Go out and eat some shit then write about it with some passion, and let people know you care. Otherwise, you’re just more noise… Love the snark Roddy… a couple more years and you can be a full on sore assed curmudgeon just like me!

7 chefprotoss

Agreed on overly long descriptions. There is a local food writer in my area that is the opposite of that though. She tells zero story, likes everything, orders the most mundane food, and pretty much says; “Chicken finger good. Kids liked mozzarella sticks. I have no soul and am dead to the world.” We have a fairly interesting dining scene here and having that bland, emotionless nitwit write for the local paper is slowly convincing me that I should take a bath with a toaster, or at the very least, set my hair on fire and try to put it out with a hammer.

I like food writing that feels like I am hanging out with the person. Will on SeriousEats, Steve, and Nick from myinnerfatty, are my heroes. They all have different styles but completely suck the reader in. I’m a big fan of that Bordain guy too.

8 Smile

I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t bring myself to read your post because I was drawn in by that first picture. HOLY BISCUITS, what is that and where can I get myself a barrel full?

..After a little bit of drooling, I did continue on. ;) And I completely agree with you!

9 Tupper

Ha! Love it Roddy.

10 kirbie

I couldn’t concentrate on this post because I was too distracted from that first image. Where did those cookies come from?

11 Bree ltc

Dessert bloggers who write about all the delicious deserts they eat. How the hell do you write about it every day and still not know how to spell it?

Fantastic post. You rule.

12 Chuck

Read this at work today- great post man. I hate reading posts about how the box looked what store you bought something at and where it was on the aisle. Just tell me if that ish tasted good or not!

And my pictures suck lol, but I don’t really care

13 Rodzilla

Lisa – I hope I did it with sword of yummy.

Pav – I’m having trouble thinking up what I want to cover next, what do you think about a recipe for nummy-nanner-sammies?

Chef – That was hilariously unexpected and maybe a bit extreme. I’m going to ask that you consider writing for the local paper first…if they make you said nitwit’s understudy then I will buy you the toaster or hammer of your choice.

Smile – Thank you, they tasted even better.

Tupper – :D

Kirbie – those were supposed to get your attention, not take away! A nice young lady baked them, I believe she used the same choco-chip caramel bar recipe I’ve seen all over. Very good, not as good as these

Bree – lol, that is a good one. From what I know most deserts don’t taste very good.

Chuck – Agreed, I also hate stock images from the company…or my images without permission ><

14 chefprotoss

Awww, why’d ya change my heroes? haha

Will has an awesome blog I visit regularly. Steve is a genius. Unfortunately he reviews stuff I have little to no interest in, so I don’t visit that often. I just checked out that last one for the first time and I’m interested in going back. I like your blog because I get to talk about things we don’t cover on that other site. I also like that you keep it real and don’t hold back. This is a bloggers blog to me. My favorite band ever is Faith No More. People who say that tend to be musicians. They are your favorite band’s favorite band that you don’t listen to. You being plural. Take that analogy however you like haha

With pictures, I like playing around with light. I like natural light in the foreground and artificial in the background. A good example of this is my dq burger pics. I’m really proud of those. Unfortunately, no one seems to care lol. Agreed on Mrs Jax and Steve. Their pics are pure food porn.

15 Andrew

Preach, Roddy! After reading this, I’m all the more flattered that you didn’t take a shit on my Alinea/Blackbird review, which probably included several transgressions you enumerated above.

16 Lily

Love the way you write! Miss you.

17 Shannon

I never had any desire to do any food writing until after reading this post. Thanks for motivating me.

18 Brian

I hope my site isn’t cause for some of your complaints. If it is, email me privately – I’d love to hear your criticisms – in private. :)

19 Shannon

Oh yeah, forgive me. I am the descendant of slaves and sharecroppers. I’m sorry that my phone and camera do not match yours. I will be sure to go out and buy one for your and everyone else’s viewing pleasure. Furthermore, you need a whip or at the very least a title to give you the authority to tell me what or when to do anything. Since my comments do not come with a photo, you must mistake me for someone who would be ideal to serve you directly. Well, I don’t not mind letting you know that I am a lot darker than that in everyway. Good luck with your stalker.

20 Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence

Hey Roddy, I was just scrolling through your articles and I noticed my treats from the bake sale. Thanks for the mention :)

It. annoys. me. when. I. see. food. writers. punctuate. every. word. in. a. sentence. because. something. is. so. darn. tasty. every. word. needs. to. be. accented. I think its totally fine if you want to pepper it in here and there (to. die. for.), but a whole sentence is a bit much!

Thanks again!
Brandon

21 Carly

Haha, after a month of blogging, I just finally got around to ordering a replacement charger so I can use my actual camera for once. I’m the worst.

But as I already know all of the many, many things wrong with my food blog, my takeaway from this post is the amazing and mysterious line “I have bought alot of stuff for churros” from StreetStangTiffani’s email. It’s goddamned poetry.

22 Rodzilla

Carly – Hey, if the good outweighs the bad you’re set. And if street-stang-tiff had a site of her own, I don’t think any of us would read anything else.

23 Rodzilla

Brandon – of course! They. were. fantastic. I was even considering reviewing them but I ate them too quickly. :D

24 1389AD

I am not a food blogger, but I do read and enjoy food blogs and recipe sites when time permits. I realize that I’m dating myself by admitting this, but when I was learning to read those petroglyphs way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, “crispy” was NOT A WORD. The actual word was “crisp.” Where the heck did that unneeded “-y” ending come from? “Crisp” is already an adjective, fercryinoutloud!

25 Shannon

I’m sorry for the comment.

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