Opinion: Food Headlines Worth Banning

Let’s ban the urgency of headlines when talking about food when talking about food

OMG if you read one thing about food today, read this, quick. Before everybody else reads it.

Does this sound familiar to you?

It certainly does to me, and I’m tired of it.

A quick trawl through articles published in Ireland by bloggers, online magazines, and newspapers in the past month reveal the following headline samples:

Make This Super Easy Chocolate Cheesecake on Evoke.ie

This ‘Dairygold Deli’ Quinoa Veggie Wrap… is the Healthy Lunch You’ve Been Looking For Lovin.ie

Three ten-minute pasta recipes that taste insanely good Her.ie

The 6 excellent eateries you need to try next time you’re in Galway Shemazing.net

The 5 things you need to try at Taste of Dublin this weekend Independent.ie

All of these headlines have an urgency to them; with an underlying current of instruction. The main reason being that the publications have something to sell, be it more advertising, perhaps the post is advertorial, or that they want to drive traffic.

When large publications online (and offline) post updates with these terms, they become the norm. Regular food bloggers see that the headlines are working and start using the same terms themselves. The terms are perpetuated and it is becoming a vicious cycle.

The problem with introducing too many superlatives into food language is that it becomes a race to the top and bottom for describing food. The middle ground of descriptive terms fall away, leaving the food that lies between in a sort of limbo.

What’s wrong with decent Irish terms like ‘nice’, ‘lovely’, and ‘grand’? Is it that they convey a feeling of adequecy, of accepting that something is alright but not amazing? In my Grandfather’s vernacular, the term ‘lovely’ was high praise, and if he proclaimed a dish lovely then I knew I was on to a winner.

I, for one, look forward to reading a recipe description that uses brevity, such as ‘vanilla cake recipe’. When I know that it has been tested (another bugbear of mine) then I will invariably want to try it.

As a parent I believe in teaching my children that they cannot always be happy; that they must experience sadness to understand what happiness is. Life is full of opposites and the grey areas in between. If we spend our lives rushing towards the ultimate food experiences then everything else will dull in comparison.

I’ve written before that the best meal I’ve ever tasted was a plate of simple toast, washed down with a cup of tea, after giving birth.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten? I’d hazard a guess that it might not be down to the ‘food experience’ but down to who you shared the meal with, or why you ate a particular meal.

Let me know what you think!

4 thoughts on “Opinion: Food Headlines Worth Banning

  1. Mmm this gives me food for thought. The problem is that there is a trend towards click bait title. I try and steer clear of them but I understand that they drive traffic and that in itself is quite seducing.
    As for the nice/ lovely/ grand I don’t know. I wouldn’t chose to write about food which I think is nice or ok. I would mention such food if I explained that what I went for but in the end the results were ok or fine but not great.
    Finally hell yeah on the food experience but that’s back a previous conversation about being willing to share that information. Something I’m still working on.
    Great post though as it made me think.
    Thank you

  2. I for one breath a sigh of relief when someone tells me “the food was really nice”. I don’t actually need to feel I’m talking part in that scene from When Harry Met Sally with every meal I eat. This evening I made fridge bottom pizza using leftover boiled potatoes, the last couple of inches of a chorizo, garlic, onions, mushrooms, rosemary and two kinds of ends of cheese as the toppings. When asked my menfolk said it was nice, but they came back for thirds. That’s what nice food is – comforting, sustaining and definitely moreish. You probably won’t waste time taking its picture (although as it happens that was a very pretty pizza because the leftover potatoes were bright purple) but you will feel happy when you’ve eaten it. While it was cooking I was looking on line for a new twist on the vegetable lasagna for the vegans coming to dinner tomorrow, and I was close to throwing the computer across the room after a couple of minutes because of all those silly click bait titles, completely unjustified by the recipes that went with them. Almost all had ingredients listed but not used, or vice versa, wrong timings or temperatures etc, etc. Some were over elaborate, some were boring. Most listed a couple of compulsory trendy ingredients – this week flax meal is compulsory for vegans it seems. So I’ll just have another look in the garden and the store cupboard and see what happens. I’ll be very happy if they think it’s nice – I’ll be delighted if they say its lovely. If they take its photo for instagram I’ll never feed them again.

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