Rosemary's Blog

Streamlining the BBC's food and recipe archive

Social media has been abuzz today with horror at the decision to streamline the BBC's food and recipe offer down to recipes on-line for 30 days after the programme in which they feature is broadcast. What was not apparent when this story was first aired - I believe on the Today programme on Radio 4 - was that the BBC Good Food website and recipe archive would be unaffected by this change as it is a separate and commercial service. Whenever I look for on-line recipes it is BBC Good Food that delivers, so I am not sure what all the fuss is about? Do we need two BBC recipe archives?

The best of recipes from cookery shows are usually featured - or certainly used to be - in the BBC Good Food magazine, presumably after being tested before publication. Recipes from TV cookery series which are not competitions and feature in any accompanying book are generally tested by home economists, ensuring that they work in a home situation. The problem for anyone watching MasterChef or even, I guess, Bake Off, might be that recipes from these competition shows will only now be available for 30 days. Surely, however, that is long enough to Pin It or archive them to your Paprika recipe file if that is what you do? If it isn't, maybe it is the way forward?

I feel that today's outcry needs to be balanced against the findings of an article, again brought to my attention through social media, in which it was found that the vast majority of people searching for recipes on the internet were looking for dishes like Broccoli bake, the World's best lasagne, and countless muffins and bakes. It is not high gastronomy but it is what most people strive for at home. So does it matter that aspirational recipes will not now be available for all time? Most food and health professionals are in agreement that the way back to clean food and good eating is home cooking from scratch - which is creative, satisfying and does not have to be time-consuming.

Since BBC Good Food magazine started under the food writing editorship of Mitzi Wilson over 25 years ago it has been staffed by some of the best recipe writers in the business. Not everyday celebrity names but wonderful cookery writers like Mary Cadogan, Orla Broderick, Mary Gwynn and Orlando Murrin. Perhaps my selection of names shows my age and era, but these are the writers that have contributed fabulous, common sense, cook-at-home recipes to the BBC and, along with Radio 4's The Food Programme, have made the BBC the authoritative voice for food and cookery that it is. If the recipe offer from the BBC is to be streamlined, let's keep BBC Good Food and all their recipes at our on-line finger tips. TV cookery programmes have to be, first and foremost, entertaining. They often also impart real gastro-wisdom, but in a foodie, did-you-know sort-of-way, not in a practical home-cooking I can use that  way. A quick look at which are the most popular on-line recipes shows that people still seek comfort cooking when they do rattle the pots and pans themselves.