I came across this recipe for the "Originial Plum Torte" on the New York Times website, and it included a brief anecdote. It was published annually in the Times for several years in the 80s, but the editors eventually decided to do away with it. The last year it was published, “the recipe was printed in larger type than usual with a broken-line border around it to encourage clipping," according to the the creator, Marian Burros.
It sounds rather foreign and quaint now, the idea of actually clipping out a recipe from a newspaper and clipping it to your fridge, or perhaps copying it out by hand to give to your friends.
Reading this recipe, it sort of struck me just how new what I'm doing is. The oldest websites that we'd consider food blogs are only six or seven years old; food blogging simply wasn't a concept before then. We used to share recipes through magazines, cookbooks, or handwritten index cards (I remember having to make cutesy recipe holders for Mother's Day in the third grade; even then, it seemed a rather outdated concept).
Two years ago, one of the dorms at Harvard made T-shirts themed around Epic Mealtime, a Youtube channel about...well, I'll let you look it up. It's fascinating that an Internet cooking channel as become part of our everyday entertainment to the point that it can be a cultural reference.
I think the Internet has changed our culture of eating and sharing food more than we might think. Restaurant review sites like Yelp are surprising recent developments (well, surprising to me anyways), and our culture (especially among young people) of looking at restaurant ratings and carefully picking out a place to eat is very new. (I read a fascinating article about that here.) Words like "food porn" or "foodie" are products of the Internet, and would have sounded so bizarre only a few years ago.
And that's without getting started on Instagramming your meals or Pinterest.
It's easy to get caught up in the daily grind of food blogging, the scramble to get a post done for Monday morning, the submissions to Foodgawker, the comment frenzy, the social media push. Yet what we're doing is actually incredibly exciting and new; food blogging has expanded the breadth and depth of food knowledge available out their, and our ability to access it. It has helped shaped the new culture around food.
Plus there's simply something amazing about being able to peek into the kitchens of people around the world, to see their photographs and hear their stories.
½ cup butter, at room temperature
¾ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
12 small or 6 large plums, halved and pitted
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamo
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Whisk together the butter and ¾ cups sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the butter and egg mixture.
Pour the batter into a greased 9-inch pan and spread evenly. Toss the plums in the lemon juice and place them on top of the cake, cut side down.
Mix together two tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the cake. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.