Consumer Research

Having recently been handed a load of research into recipe related search terms in google, I was quite surprised by what came up as being the most searched for. I knew chicken recipes would feature quite highly, as would pasta. But omelette? Ratatouille? Waldorf salad?! Does no one remember Fawlty Towers? It’s CELERY, APPLES, WALNUTS, GRAPES! In MAYONNAISE! Clearly people are cooking at home, but they’re not always cooking what I thought they were.

For instance, in the chicken recipe category butter chicken features rather highly up the scale above, for example, chicken and mushroom pie. But who, in all honesty wants to see first hand the volume of saturated fat that goes into butter chicken?! Once you’ve stepped through the frosted glass doors of The Bombay Star, you’ve made the decision that calorie content is not an issue that evening, but stirring rivers of butter into your supper is a different matter entirely. And it wasn’t just this takeaway staple that was high up the list – korma, masala, jalfrezi were all up there, along with chicken chow mein and lemon chicken from the Eastern contingent. Is there a whole generation of internet users who are trying to recreate the curry house and Chinese at home?

Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t make curries – in fact, I’m pleased that so many people want to make curry, because it’s not the easiest thing to make.  It requires time, patience, and a list of ingredients as long as your arm. We’re constantly concerned that people only want quick, on-the-table-before-you’ve-got-your-coat-off type food (Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals out-selling The Bible would suggest they do). But if people want to cook curry, then we clearly have nothing to worry about. And we have tons of curry recipes on the website, but we try very hard to make sure they’re not the sort of dishes you would get in your local tandoori.

I think this is where food writers are on a bit of a sticky wicket. We’re forever looking for the ‘twist’. You can’t do a roast chicken, everyone’s had roast chicken, you have to do roast chicken with sumac. Or anchovies. Or, oh I don’t know, plums? But what about just a plain old roast chicken recipe?

And lasagne. In my working life I’ve done recipes for lasagne with meatballs, lasagne with spinach and mushrooms, a gratin that looks suspiciously like a lasagne, and lasagne with Fontina and butternut. Should I have just done one with ragu, béchamel and mozzarella? I assumed most people would know how to make that, but then, if you only ever do a twist, how could they?

Lasagne or gratin? You decide.

So what would you like to see? Should we be re-inventing the wheel every month, or keeping it simple? What about a little bit of both? If we’re going to attract all types of cook then there has to be a balance, but if you’re a confident cook, would you get irritated by seeing an omelette recipe taking up space? I’d love to hear people’s thoughts. And maybe their lasagne recipes…



Filed under Musings, Recipes, Savoury

4 responses to “Consumer Research

  1. Maureen

    I’d welcome some back to basics. I feel as though I can make the classic dishes – lasagne/chilli/spag bol etc but that they’re never as good as other peoples. I’d love a classic recipe for these sort of dishes that I can then pass off as my own…

    I think as well because we’re bombarded with so many lovely recipes from all angles as well as whatever takes our fancy in the supermarket, I don’t actually get round to making the classics very often – I’d like to do it more…

  2. It’s really interesting to see what shows up in that list, but I have to say Omlette! Really?

    I never know how to add herbs and spices when cooking to change the flavours of food, so maybe you could do something to do with that. Also impressive salads that have hardly anything in them but taste amazing. It’s all about the flavouring and I have no idea where to start with that!

  3. Lynden Swainston

    Having enjoyed the most wonderful meal cooked by the author of this blog on Saturday I am sure we would all enjoy the recipe for the amazing Chicken dish I was served. Any chance please?

    I have a large pot of sumac, hitherto unused in my cupboard which will now be used when I experiment with Chicken and Sumac as above, thank you.
    Also, please remove that wonderful chocolate cake picture, this is not ideal for someone about to give up chocolate and cake for Lent tomorrow!

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