Internet of Yum digs into all the things that make us drool while we’re checking our feeds.
Getting mad online over food is a proud, longstanding tradition.
Sure, the rage you feel over someone ruining guacamole or using way too much fucking mayo sounds irrational. But there are very legitimate reasons to publicly shame bad recipes on the web.
Just look at this entire Twitter account (with over 73,000 followers as of publication) exclusively dedicated to screenshots of Italians and those of Italian heritage getting very Mad Online over people’s various food crimes. These outraged yet relatable eaters reveal a little of the psychology behind why bad takes on food inspire such instinctual backlash in us all.
We can’t help but take it personally when people commit the edible equivalent of assault on a recipe.
Because food is deeply personal. As this Bon Appetit article theorizes, our relationship to food is connected to our traditions, cultures, and family members that made us who we are today.
You are what you eat, as they say. The food we love is a huge part of our identities. So we can’t help but take it personally when people commit the edible equivalent of assault on a recipe we love.
There’s a method to the madness of online recipes that spark huge public outcry on the web, though.
Sometimes, food crimes committed against the internet are innocuous accidents, or vintage atrocities, or — in the case of certain food blogs — maybe even purposefully gross since the goal is to get people to view the video rather than actually make the thing.
We’ve broken down the recipe for getting the internet mad about food into these 14 easy steps.
1. Add peas.
Inspiring the collective “thanks, I hate it” that united us all, New York Times Cooking never truly recovered from suggesting that we add peas to our guacamole in 2015.
After a tumultuous week, Americans finally come together to agree on one thing: Adding peas to guacamole is some bullshit right there.
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) July 1, 2015
Even former President Barack Obama felt the need to veto this recipe. In a historic show of bipartisan solidarity, Jeb(!) Bush, who had just launched his unsuccessful campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, agreed with him. That’s powerful.
2. Use an ungodly amount of butter.
I have no idea what’s happening here, but feel certain it’s Satanic in nature.
3. Throw some romaine lettuce on that shit and call it vegan.
Vegans get a lot of unwarranted flak. But last year’s public evisceration of this alleged “vegan lasagna” was more than warranted. So spoke the official Stouffer’s Twitter account: “Definitely. Not. Lasagna.”
4. Include a self-indulgent 5,000-word preamble to your recipe.
We have Mindy Kaling to thank for speaking this particular truth to power. Her brave stance against long-winded personal essays that too often precede online recipes earned her lots of backlash from the food blogger community. But I stand by it, and her.
Why do all online recipes have endless pages of the chef’s whole life story about the recipe and then on the 12th page is the actual recipe? I just want the recipe! I don’t need the Modern Love essay on how you came up with it!
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) March 29, 2020
I don’t care if it makes your recipe more searchable on Google or whatever. We don’t need more blog posts like this, in which a lady humblebrags about her extremely expensive trip under the guise of a “Classic Blue Cheese Wedge Salad” recipe.
5. Dip fish into Kool-aid.
Need we say more? Well, we won’t.
6. Salt it with offensive levels of caucasity
You know, this might actually also help explain some of the outcry over the Peas v. Guac case. But there’s plenty of other examples where white people added their unique “twist” on a nation’s traditional dish that unleashed fierce debate.
Take celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, notoriously high on the Internet’s Most Wanted Food Felons list for various criminal acts, like turkey Twizzlers. But the bigger offense was in his (now deleted) recipe for paella with chicken thighs and paprika-spiced chorizo. Spaniards were quick to point out that authentic paella is not just “rice and stuff.” It’s a dish with proud origins in rural Valencia, and if you put paprika-spiced chorizo in it, get ready to be crucified online by a bunch of angry Spaniards (although, of course not all Spaniards are paella purists).
Oliver isn’t alone. Many celebrity chefs, including Gordon Ramsey, have been critiqued by locals for messing with traditional dishes. It’s also not even the first time Oliver was party to a #ricegate. He also botched a jollof rice recipe, a beloved West African dish, by adding non-traditional ingredients, such as coriander and lemon. Messing with jollof rice is like touching the third rail, with people from various West African countries balking at their neighbors’ choice of ingredients.
The internet was once again quick to pounce on the New York Times for offering up a recipe that added American cheese to Ramen, for example, in 2018.
But actually, it turns out that this unexpected combo was popularized in the U.S. by Korean-American chef Roy Choi. As one Twitter user pointed out, “Cheese Ramen is a thing. A Korean thing.”
Sometimes, combining ingredients from different nations can be an opportunity for multi-cultural people to bring those disparate parts of their identity together…in their tummy. But not everyone’s going to like it.
Y’all don’t even want to know what gets served at my Brazilian-Swiss family’s Thanksgiving dinner.
7. Ruin pizza like a psycho
As the over-used joke goes, pizza is like sex: Even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.
Well, clearly whoever made that joke a) never had many one-night stands, and b) was never forced to witness former New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English’s canned spaghetti pizza or whatever the fuck you call these other monstrosities.
8. Just like…a mayo sandwich?
I don’t know who needs to hear this (it’s former race car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner), but mayo is a CONDIMENT, not a “sandwich” in and of itself.
Honestly, calling Warner’s Instagram Live snuff film of a tuna melt a “recipe” probably violates the platform’s Terms of Service, so go ahead and report it.
9. Slather it in risk of heart failure
We probably could’ve filed this assault under either crimes against pizza or obscene caucasity. But this “Franken-dish” (in the words of Mashable editor Caitlin Welsh) deserves its own spotlight of shame.
With Twisted Food’s chicken pizzadilla recipe, you can clog every single one of your arteries in just 527 easy steps! Just don’t forget the ranch dip!!!
10. Go vintage!
If you thought retro stuff only had a place in thrift stores, then you were absolutely correct. So-called “vintage” recipes were lost to time for a reason. Just peruse some of the haunted recipes gathered by the 70s Dinner Party Twitter account (over 140,000 followers and counting as of publication) to see for yourself.
Then there was this thread of discoveries from Grandma’s church recipe book, which (I shit you not) included White Castle Pate. Be sure to serve with crackers and sour cream, otherwise it’d be weird!
One Twitter thread kicked off by journalist Maya Kosoff showed the real-life tragedy of “retro” recipes kept alive and well by family traditions. This Seafoam Salad recipe, along with the other horror stories found in the replies, is actually just edible generational trauma. Digest that in therapy!
11. Water it down with a few cups of sexual assault allegations
Before 2017, celebrity chef Mario Batali was best known for wearing orange Crocs, palling around with Gwyneth Paltrow, and promoting Eataly, the famed Italian market and restaurant chain. Then Eater published an explosive report with sexual misconduct accusations detailing a decades-long pattern of abusive behavior.
At the height of some of the worst Me Too apologies, Batali managed to take the cake by including his own in a weekly newsletter — followed by a postscript recipe for Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls. You know what goes down great with an already disgusting-sounding dessert? Another serving of disgust in the form of a man minimizing the litany of very legitimate allegations against him.
While others made this list for metaphorical crimes against food, Batali made it for being charged by Boston prosecutors with indecent assault and battery against actual human beings. Batali has pled not guilty and the case is still pending. We’ll be sure to bring our cinnamon rolls to your trial, Mario!
12. Take baking advice from Heinz
I can’t believe we have to say this twice, but condiments are just, like, not a main ingredient?
It’s unclear who’s fully responsible for the condiment “cake” (we’re using that term loosely) trend, but Heinz is at least partially responsible. The food processing company suggested a ketchup cake recipe on the back of its ketchup bottle, and the internet just…ran with it.
With 78,000 comments, though, Best Bites’ ketchup and mustard “cake” takes home the outrage prize.
13. Serve cheese as a wine glass
Listen, we here at Mashable are extremely pro-cheese. We did a whole series dedicated to the dairy product, including an article with the horniest cheese dating profiles we could find (don’t ask, just accept).
But that’s exactly why we take such personal offense with the Food Network’s recipe for edible cheese candles. They were not the only felons. Pop Sugar further abused cheese by once again trying to reappropriate it as houseware. Regretfully, we present to you the edible cheese wine glass.
We thought it was impossible, but somehow these monsters found a way to make cheese unappetizing. May you rot in the eternal flames of hell for your sins.
14. Candy your “salad”
We get it, salad sucks. But that’s no excuse to turn it into a victim of your delinquency, as so many on this list have (Exhibit A: Ginger Ale Salad).
The name of the blog behind this Twix Apple Fluff Salad insists “I am baker,” but we’d like to get an official ruling on that claim. We will see you in court, ma’am!