Social media made me do it: how “FoodTok” influenced my cooking

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Social media made me do it: how

Online Editor Annzra Denita Naidoo spends a lot of time on social media as part of her job. The constant exposure to viral food videos, trends and interesting recipes has compelled her to try new things in the kitchen. Some she loves, some she hates, but one this is for sure; social media recipes have changed her for the better.

I hate cooking shows. Weird for someone who works in food media, I know. But I have such intense food envy. I get so annoyed that I can’t eat what’s on my screen that it ruins my experience. I find that it’s best to avoid these shows and focus on the food I do have access to. Unfortunately, I can’t avoid social media. Part of my job is managing TASTE’s social media channels and keeping up with food trends. This means I spend a lot of time online posting, searching and looking at food. Every. Single. Day.

As you can imagine, the algorithm constantly feeds me food content. Well, food and anime (BTW anime food content is top notch!). I was fine at first, but when “FoodTok” exploded in SA, I couldn’t help but be influenced. The 20% of hipster in me is appalled. For those blissfully unaware, FoodTok is the name given to food content shared on TikTok and subsequently Instagram, Facebook, etc. It’s a weird and wonderful space where home cooks, celebrities, professionals, and almost anyone, shares recipes, hacks, tips, fails and more. It’s simultaneously inspiring and overwhelming.

ALSO READ: The nostalgic, but slightly terrifying, task of setting up my first spice cupboard


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How it started

I joined TASTE during the pandemic. In my first year, I didn’t meet my team members or try any of the food we shot. But I still had to write about the recipes. My manager suggested I cook them to get a better sense of the brand, but it took a while for me to try. A lot of the recipes are for four to six people and I was a in household of two. I was also trying to wrap my head around the new job and Covid (2020 feels like a collective fever dream, doesn’t it?). When we started making reels, I finally made some TASTE dishes. There’s just something about the short video format that makes recipes seem more achievable. I think it’s a combination of food porn and short videos. I know it doesn’t take one minute to make the recipe, but seeing it made in that time makes it look easier, which persuaded me to try them.


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I’ve made Khanya’s 3-cheese roast potatoes and broccoli, cheese and potato croquettes (because, cheese). Hannah’s balsamic pork sausages are on constant rotation in my house (which is now a household of one, but I still devour these). My most recent TASTE obsession is Abigail’s three-ingredient mussel pasta. My version has five ingredients – I couldn’t resist adding garlic and bacon. The funny thing is I am involved in this content creation. I pitched the 3-cheese roast potatoes and balsamic pork sausages to be made into reels. I edited the three-ingredient mussel pasta. I knew it would be compelling, and I fell for it anyway!

@wwtaste This pasta is the perfect dish to make before loadshedding hits! Find the recipe on #foodtiktok #3ingredientsrecipes #pastatiktok ♬ original sound – WWTaste

Under the influence

My FoodTok game ramped up after getting an air-fryer. I’m not really impressed by the appliance (read all about that here) and I struggled to use it well in the beginning. So I turned to social media. It’s full of easy recipes with precise air-frying settings. My confidence was boosted after this. I believe I can make almost any recipe I see on social media. I have a list with 52 recipes (and counting) that I saved and I’ve made around 10% of them. These include the viral Big Mac tacos (average), tiramisu overnight oats (obsessed), rice paper tacos (crispy and fun),  and cheesy potato pancakes (so good!).

@wwtaste Digital editor Annzra tried these cheesy potatoes at home! Recipe: TASTE TESTS: Cheesy potato pancakes Makes approx. 7 2 medium potatoes or 3 small potatoes 45 g cornflour salt, to taste 100 g mozzarella oil, for frying 1 Boil and mash the potatoes. Add the cornflour and salt and mix to form a dough. 2 Roll roughly 1/4 cup dough into a ball and flatten. Place some cheese in the centre and encase with dough. Flatten and shape with your hands. Repeat with the remaining dough and cheese. 3 Shallow-fry for 5 minutes on each side over a medium-low heat until golden. #potatotiktok #potato #recipe #cheese ♬ 美食 好吃 开心 – 背景音乐小助手

Some recipes have changed my life. I make Korean veggie pancakes all the time. They’re so easy and a great way to use up veg. Chocolate-covered nut-stuffed dates are always in my house. Frozen lemon turmeric ginger shots are now part of my daily routine. I don’t just recreate recipes. If creamy, spicy or cheesy dishes fill my feed, I will make that type of dish within the week. I pack epic lunchboxes because the IG moms do this for their partners and kids (I have neither). I drink a lot of iced coffee and bubble tea, despite how costly they are. I’ve even baked a snacking cake, and baking is my least favourite thing to do in a kitchen. Seriously, I’d rather wash dishes than bake, but social media is just too powerful!

ALSO READ: How my quest to make the perfect masala chai reconnected me to my heritage

FoodTok forever

I may be addicted to FoodTok, but I can’t escape it. As I said, it’s part of my job. And while I may be spending more money on food than necessary (damn you dates, dark chocolate and iced coffee), I have no regrets. FoodTok made me braver in the kitchen. I’ve experienced new flavours. It’s easier to decide what to make for dinner. I’ve learnt hacks that I will always use. I’ve made recipes from outside my culture and country. I share my creations with those around me. I feel inspired and proud. And the best part is, there is no food envy. I see it, I like it, I make it. It’s awesome!

Annzra Denita Article by: Annzra Denita

Annzra Denita is the digital editor of TASTE. Eating good food is her absolute favourite thing and making good food is a close second.

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