"Can I make blueberry muffins but without the blueberries?"
I stared back in a mute state, dumbfounded. True, comments like these were nothing new to me. In fact, they seemed to instinctively hunt me down in a die-hard mission to bludgeon the meaty bits of my brain. However, no matter how odd and backward each little comment was I always found myself slightly perplexed.
I re-read over the e-mail that my friend had forwarded to me. She was just as stupefied as me, and insisted on sharing it's delightful insanity.
I must admit that a certain spark of curiosity is always ignited whenever I read one of these comments. What sort of person composed this comment? What are they like in the kitchen? Did their mom smoke a lot of pot while they were still in the crib? All, I believe, to be valid questions.
I have a sort of mental image in my head of these people. Some sort of hunchback of Notre Dame-esque sort of person, with a lazy eye and slow but steady stream of drool coming out of their mouth. They stand at a kitchen counter over a bowl, all ingredients mise en place. The surly would-be cooker looks at the recipe, looks at the bowl, then back at the recipe. Slowly, unsure of what the sentence "Whisk ingredients" may actually mean, they pick up a spatula. Then they proceed to energetically smash everything on the counter and then bludgeon themselves in the head with a fry pan. They then take whatever makes it into the pot, throws it in the oven for the wrong temperature for however long it takes for them to remember there actually is something in the oven. Remembrance is often brought on by the smell of smoke and the high pitched squeal of a smoke alarm.
Afterwards, defeated, they go back to their computer and pull up the recipe. They go to the comments section and emphatically write, in all capitals no less, "THIS REHSUHPEE SUX!!!!". And yes, that is an actual quote.
Then of course there is The Substituter. Their approach to any blog's recipe is that the author has made every single variation and substitution possible in any known conditions that ever will and could happen.
I'll give some leeway. Some substitution questions are logical and reasonable, "Can I use almonds instead of walnuts?" Why not?
"Can I freeze the cookie dough for later use?" Absolutely, I'm glad you brought it up!
"I am allergic to wheat, can I use rice flour? Also, I have no butter in my house. I once used applesauce instead of oil for some brownies so can I use applesauce instead of butter?"
*slam head on desk*
The last one is a bit more painful to me. Certain substitutions are fine and dandy, but asking about changing the whole damn recipe and how it will cook if you're located at 42 longitude of the seventh circle of Hell or on a boat off the Jersey shore during an ice storm is something completely different.
My usual answer to this is, "I don't know. Try it for yourself and let us know!" It's a static answer that hides my desire to beat them with a sack of oranges. Fact of the matter is, you obviously want a different recipe, and you want me to figure it out or find it for you. Too bad. Want the slim-fast version? Look somewhere else. Want my recipe to be more like another recipe? Then go scour Food Blog Search. Does it not exist? Then create it. I am not your oracle, I am a guy with a shitty kitchen and internet connection.
Another favorite commenter that makes me palm my forehead in frustration? The Tangent Commenter. "Love your site. My cats name is Mittens and he loves cupcakes!"
How special for you and Mittens. *Delete*
Seriously, if you have something to say that contributes to the post I wrote, please include it. Do not however go so far off the known map that I'm left to question your psychiatric state.
Then, one we have covered before, The New Guy Commenter. The new blogger in the community who blog stalks the hell out of you, leaving a comment at every post that says something inane like, "Wow, neat!" then plugs their blog URL at the end. I read a lot of blogs, but I only leave a comment when I have an opinion or comment that actually demonstrated that I have 1) read the post, and 2) have something to say that pertains to the post.
Then there is The Asshole. Retarded teenagers or 20-something living in a dorm room or mom's basement, trolling around on the internet. They leave comments like, "Your recipe is shit! Damn, you suck! HAHAHAHA!"
Now, the cute thing is they never seem to get that most people moderate comments. So they basically just waste time. I pay little attention to these honestly. Ten to one, they live a meaningless existence filled with hanging out behind 7-11 or leveling up on World of Warcraft. Life is already to pathetic for these people for me to knock them down further.
Lastly, we have the Errant Questioner: "Are you sure this recipe is right? I tried it and it's not right. You wrote this down wrong." Yes, this recipe was a deliberate subreption, created in order for you to waste time. Everyone else did fine with this recipe, just not you.
I'm not perfect though, if people catch something wrong with the recipe or I wrote it down incorrectly I'll admit fault. However, if you are the 1 in 100 that had a problem with it, then it's probably you.
Ah, but lets move on to the actual composition of these comments, or the lack thereof. These grammatical and syntactic abortions of the English language physically nauseate me to the point of actually wanting to hurl over my keyboard. Or at the very least take a Valium and make it all go away (the curse of a Composition graduate student). It actually pains me when people can't (or won't) spell or capitalize properly. Given, there are allowances. Text messaging. Posting something new on the blog at 3 am. Trying to write on the laptop when your friend is drunk and trying to sit in your lap in a coup to wrest the keyboard away from you and show you something nifty on YouTube. All perfect examples when perfect writing isn't necessary.
I'm also partial to OMG, WTF, and LOL. In fact when texting, I use LOL in place of periods. These and other well known bits of web-speak are acceptable. "LOL, that post was sooo awesome!" is cool by me. "hahahathat post ws SO awsome!" is not.
Still, in light of all the inane comments, they still comfort me in one specific way. It means people are reading, which is nothing to complain about. It means that some people are actually interested in the content of the post and have tried the recipe. Knowing that someone has taken your creation, your project of love, and adopted it themselves is one of the greatest joys in the world. One of the reasons people food blog is to share their culinary lore and knowledge with each other. It's an enriching experience.
In the end, the way I see it, comments are like eggs, there's usually one broken in every dozen, and there isn't shit you can do about it but throw it away, save the good ones, and move on.
(And rant a bit...)