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5 Reasons Not to Overlook the Comment Sections

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We've learned quite a bit this year: dozens of recipes by heart, countless Genius tips, what it's like to be a professional baker for a week, what's really happening inside a whiskey barrel, and so much more. We also learned quite a bit from each other.

Within the sign-up form for our Holiday Swap was a section asking what you learned from a fellow Food52ers this year, and it was clear that we've all learned a lot. Not all of those learnings came from articles, though, many came from the comment sections. Here are 5 things you might pick up by scrolling down:

Louisa's Cake
Louisa's Cake

Cooking Times

  • Multiple Food52ers shared that they read through the comments for any additional insights on cooking times. Tricia Ulrich found them especially helpful when baking Louisa’s cake for her staff and adds, “…I always read members comments before testing a recipe. It helps craft different variations of a recipe and dealing with fickle ovens like mine.”
Butternut Sage Scones
Butternut Sage Scones

General Cooking Knowledge

  • Assistant Buyer for our Shop Jackson Fust is a fan of mrslarkin’s Butternut Sage Scones and jumped into a discussion within the comments to encourage another Food52er to make a savory version of them by cutting back on the sugar. It turns out he learned something in the process when mrslarkin chimed in and added, “Cutting back on the sugar will make them more savory and less sweet, but they will not bake up as big. So if you are ok with that, go for it!” Jackson shared that he’d had no idea that sugar would affect the size a scone would bake up to, saying “my baking science knowledge is… limited.”

A Sense of Community

  • Caninechef shares, “I am drawing a blank in terms of specifics but I did want to contribute to this topic because I have thought a bit about the "community" aspects of Food52. Previously I was casually interested in cooking info on the internet but no particular site interested me more than others. But after lurking here for a while and joining several years ago this is certainly my go-to site. And I think that is largely because of the communication between content providers and content users. Not only do I find valuable insights into a recipe, technique or general topic from the comments but I think I have learned about the other members of Food52. Having developed a "feel" for some other members it makes it easier to evaluate whether a particular recipe, technique or modification is something that is liable to be successful for me.”
A Cake Beloved (and Evolved) Since the Ottoman Empire
A Cake Beloved (and Evolved) Since the Ottoman Empire

Substitutions and Variations

  • Elyse Azevedo says, “I love, LOVE, [reading] the comments section on almost every recipe. This website has the most successful comments section I have ever happened upon. Everyone is helpful, sharing tips and tweaks, and the recipe authors often chime in when questions are posed. The comments remind me that most cooks are like me—enthusiastic hobbyists who don't always have every single ingredient on the list.”
  • Pierino says, “Readers of [the] Hotline have made helpful comments on my own recipes on several occasions which made me go back and reconsider.” He also shares one specific example from when his recipe Ears of the Lombardian Consigliere was tested as a community pick, saying, “the tester, CK1, suggested the addition of arugula or radicchio. It was almost as if they were reading my mind. I had been thinking about radicchio and it made sense.”
  • Nancy says: “I've learned that, how to say it, a recipe is a living, breathing thing that belongs to its writers, cooks, and eaters. Often the comments section reveals questions, ideas, and variations that the posted writer didn't (yet) think of or include in the writing. I wonder if recipes we now think of as classics went through a similar process far from our eyes, before they became enshrined by usage in a cuisine, a culture, an author's repertoire or our memory.”
Paul Bertolli's Cauliflower Soup
Paul Bertolli's Cauliflower Soup

A Laugh

  • KellyBcooks says, “I have loved this website for many years and have made many recipes and loved many of them too. But my most beloved is Paul Bertolli's Cauliflower soup. It's pretty simple, but has an amazing flavor, subtle, but that's the beauty in it. When I commented on the recipe, I opted to be notified when others comment and I love that I did! What a controversial recipe! What debates on a simple soup! It makes me smile, laugh, and shake my head at times when I read the comments. But I also get to see this recipe from other perspectives and palettes, and I think that is very cool; I also get the option to try some of the twists others post about. It's pretty neat.”

P.S.A.: If, unlike KellyBcooks, you don’t want to continue to engage in a discussion after sharing your thoughts on a post or recipe, please remember to uncheck the box that says “Send me emails about new comments” before adding your comment.

Tell us: What have you learned from reading through the comments?

Tags: Tips & Techniques