Lisa Lin, right, pictured with her mom, affectionately called "Mama Lin" in videos and social media content with Lisa.

What it says about us when we want a cook's recipe but not their humanity

Updated 11:06 AM ET, Fri March 5, 2021

(CNN)Not everyone wants to cook mung bean popsicles. Judy Leung, one of the people behind recipe website The Woks of Life, understands that.

So when she shared her recipe online, she opened her blog post by taking the reader back to Shanghai, where she grew up. There, she wrote, popsicle peddlers would ride through the city on bicycles, wooden boxes strapped to the backseats, selling the treat.
"When the neighborhood kids heard the peddlers' distinguished hollers, they would charge out with pennies in hand, hoping to get the popsicle with the most beans," the post, which also features illustrated step-by-step cooking instructions, reads. "Everyone knew they were the best part."
For Leung -- and many other cooks who make a living as food bloggers -- telling the story behind certain dishes is part of the recipe itself. But over the weekend, a proposed website -- called Recipeasly -- raised concerns among the community of food bloggers. It said it would provide recipes sans information beyond an ingredient list and cooking steps.
The Woks of Life's mung bean popsicles, which matriarch Judy Leung developed.
Tom Redman, one of the website's creators, described it as "your favorite recipes except without the ads or life stories." Users would be able to plug in their recipe of choice, and the site would strip it of any extra text -- including the recipe author's name.
The news of the website was immediately met with backlash.
Redman apologized soon after and said he was taking down the website down as its creators "re-examine our impact on the community." He did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment, but tweeted that if the site returns it'll be "with changes where we have fallen short."
While the website is now down, news of its launch amplified a larger issue, many food bloggers said. So often, people simply want a recipe, without the person behind it. And stripping food bloggers' of their stories, they said, devalues their work -- and their humanity.
"It pulls our identity away from the thing we're creating, which personally, is hurtful," Mila Clarke Buckley, who runs the diabetes-focused recipe website Hangry Woman, told CNN. "I'm making this thing for you, but you don't want me to be a part of it. You want me to be these invisible hands in the background."

Those long posts are actually useful

Every food blogger has heard some version of the same complaint: Cut to the chase. Many don't want to read a long post before the recipe -- they just want the recipe.
But that complaint is one based in an overgeneralization of recipe websites, said Lisa Lin, who has run the website Healthy Nibbles and Bits since 2014. It's based on a reality that was more prominent in the early days of food blogging, she said.