Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tu Food Es Mi Food

One of the reasons I get so bored with food blogs is that it seems everyone is copying each other.

They are. How many photos have you had to look at featuring a stack of cookies, tied in twine? A cruddy wooden board that the dishes rest on, over a folded bit of floral fabric? The patch of burlap. The little glass milk bottle, with swirly-striped paper straws. The teeny cake stand. Artful sprinklings of fresh leaves, everywhere.

You are copying each other, and I found the online store where you buy all your identical props!

Recipes are copied, too. I recently cooked from a recipe suggested by a fellow blogger, and credited her on my blog. Only to find that the actual, perhaps original, recipe is sourced from somebody else, and it's all over the Internet. Legitimate ethical dilemma here: Was I copying the blogger? I took a picture of my results and did an enthusiastic post. I definitely attributed my food to the blogger whose recipe I used. I wasn't claiming originality. But I did feel a little bad about her not crediting her source.

If you visit Tastespotting much, you'll run across blatant ripoffs, repeats, robberies, and no attribution. Suddenly everybody is creating — originally! — an asparagus tart in puff pastry. Shaved asparagus salad. Boozy blueberry limeade (it's everywhere). Cauliflower crust pizza. No credits anywhere.

I even think I've been copied, though I wouldn't say any of my recipes have been plagiarized. (This is not a recipe blog!) I've come across things that remind me of food I created for this blog, in some cases, YEARS ago. Didn't I invent radishes on tartines? (You know what, I'm not that crazy. I probably didn't invent radish tartines.) Didn't I invent homemade ranch dressing (and this time, I'm pretty sure I've been copied.)

How many food bloggers besides me, amateurs mostly, would dream up buttermilk and fruit juice popsicles? Cucumber juice summer drinks? Watermelon juice summer drinks?

OK, calm me down, people. Thanks. It's not remotely impossible that people might come up with similar ideas, unbeknownst to each other. But the dishes I'm talking about from my blog were posted years ago, and right this minute there's a huge flurry of just those dishes, my dishes, in the foodosphere.

I sound really paranoid, don't I? Nah. Besides, I think I just solved the issue. If my creations were posted years ago, why did it take until now for people to find them? I wasn't copied. Probably. :)

I will leave you with this selfish discovery. I DID invent those dishes (even if tons of cooks already also had, historically). I was original! I thought. So was everybody else.

But you know what? For your own good, everybody, please don't copy that burrito bowl recipe that's proliferating all over cyberspace. What's a burrito bowl? A burrito is supposed to be wrapped in a flour tortilla. No, I get it. They're all copying Chipotle's.


Kailyn said...

I have felt that one should name the original or the inspiration. Probably why I stopped blogging about food except for dining our. Most of my everyday fate is rather boring. Plus food was merely a means. Blogging was really about rediscovering my love of writing. Done. And now I once more spend my days showing young people how to be better writers.
But Chipotle? Yeah, last night I told my dad that he needed to download the app if he was going to go there. Oh and their salad? I created it. Used to order the bowl and told them to substitute lettuce for the rice. Next thing you know, they added salad to their menu.

Zoomie said...

Whenever I think I have invented something new, if I search the web, I find that it is not original to me. I'm not a trendsetter like you, I'm just one of the sheep.

cookiecrumb said...

Kailyn: On occasion, I have been unable to find the original post that inspired me, but I always say at least that.
Hey, that's really hilarious about "your" Chipotle salad. I believe you!

Zoomie: I don't always search, but whenever I do, yup. Somebody already created that. That doesn't bother me at all. I do believe in simultaneous invention. It's the copying that slays me. Do you ever look at Tastespotting?

Zoomie said...

I have looked at Tastespotting once or twice, but not regularly. The photos are so often better than mine that I get discouraged. Also, so many food bloggers can't write worth a darn, and I read as much (or more) for the writing as for the food.

cookiecrumb said...

Yeah, the photos are usually stunning. I think that's how they get selected to appear on the site.
I do get some food ideas, though; it's worth it. EXCEPT FOR THE WRITING!

Aimee said...

Not saying you weren't copied, but cucumber and watermelon are two of the most popular flavored for aguas frescas

Aimee said...

Sorry - aguas frescas, which are ubiquitous beverages all over Latin America. I'd blame the increasing popularity if Latin flavors for that one.

cookiecrumb said...

Aimee: Oh, I don't think I was copied.. I was trying to sound pathetic and absurd.
I *really* appreciate your perspective on the increasing awareness and influence of Latino foods! As that population grows, so does our culture.

Kailyn said...

Aimee, I readily admit that my cooking is influenced by Latin culture. Heck. I went to the local Latino supermarket a couple of days ago and am planning to whip up a bay hog jamaica. My other food inspirations come from the Mediterranean and India. Indian food and Latino food use a number of the same spices. Spices that rarely showed up in my mother's cooking when I was growing up.

I only read four food blogs these days. Beansprout is why I started reading this one. And Zoomie and Chilebrown. And one from a guy in the Portland area who is a relocated Southerner and curses like a sailor. I definitely read the latter for the writing as opposed to the food. But I have learned things over the years. Like a few months ago I told my high school friend how to make perfect boiled eggs following Cranky's instructions.

Greg said...

Shrikey! I'm glad you are back and swinging. It is funny, I was just watching a Chase Jarvis Live Show on YouTube about pirating photos online. Gosh knows my photos have showed up places without my knowledge, credit or compensation. It is hard to protect yourself in the new digital realm. They mentioned the copyright rules date back to 1976 well before digital emerged. The technology is faster than the laws. I think I will watermark my stuff with "Don't steal my shit!" ;)

cookiecrumb said...

Greg: People steal your photos? What dogs. How do you find out they've been stolen?

Greg said...

I did a Google search and found my picture on another blog. The good people ask and give credit.