The evolution of (my) food writing
A 14 year old blog and why on Substack I am the food writer I want to be
The taste of freshly baked bread. The first slender asparagus on a market stall. A sudden childhood memory stirred by the smell of roasted strawberries. A mind-blowing dining experience in a rural restaurant. Creating memories with Livia rolling our sourdough crackers on a Sunday afternoon. Where would you share it?
With this question, comes the evolution of (my) food writing.
When I started Juls’ Kitchen fourteen years ago, on this very day, my answer was on the blog. This is where I learnt to write about food, where I actually discovered I liked to write about food, and that it could be a profession.
On the blog, over the years, I locked in some of my most cherished memories: my jump in the food writing world, when I met Tommaso, our wedding, the arrival of Livia, and when I became a mum. There was a thrill in writing a blog post, in picking the right recipe that would suit the moment, a seasonal occasion, or simply my mood.
If you read the old archive posts, you can taste the enthusiasm of youth, you can recognize a world seen through the rose-coloured glasses of a twenty-something country girl who had just discovered her calling. I like to think that my voice was approachable, friendly, genuine, optimistic. The food I was writing about was simple, but somehow exciting because I was rediscovering my Tuscan roots and the traditional recipes that had made me who I am.
My coming of age is documented on the blog recipe after recipe, from matcha tea to Tuscan Lacinato kale, from pink fairy cakes to chicken cacciatore.
I would often quote Clotilde Dusuolier, the French blogger behind Chocolate and Zucchini, who said in one of my food writing bibles, Will Write for Food, by:
“The blog is a part of who I am. It’s becoming like a limb. I have to feed it all the time. I think of it as an engine that propelled me forward. I look at the world through my blogger struggles. When I go anywhere, I wonder if it’s blogger material. I experience things more intensely because I’m asking myself more questions, not just living in the moment, so that I can talk to my readers afterwards. (…) It has grown with me. It’s really the key to everything else that I do.”
The blog was my safe space, my favourite way to connect with the world out there from my kitchen in the Tuscan countryside. It was where I would take note of a new discovery, a recipe that worked unexpectedly well, or a food-related memory that tickled my senses. The blog saved me in a moment when I needed something I could commit to. I have never been consistent in writing a diary as a teenager, as I’m not good at journaling now, but I’ve been writing a blog for 14 years, and that counts as the longest relationship I have ever had.
Everything was pretty spontaneous. In a couple of years, Juls’ Kitchen evolved from being my second-life favourite pastime to the online portfolio for my food writing and cooking classes. I had so much fun. With the advent of Facebook and Instagram, though, conversations moved to other media. When SEO took place, posts became more structured, thus requiring more and more time to be written according to the dictates required by search engines. Cooking classes and client deadlines made the posts less frequent. Sometimes it felt like a chore. Still, I loved my blog to bits and struggled with an online world that demanded quick, shallow content to be enjoyed with a scroll.
I had to find a new balance that could make my food writing sustainable. Otherwise, I had to let something go.
That's when I noticed thathad moved his newsletter to a new platform, Substack. After two years of the pandemic, a pregnancy, and a baby girl, when cooking classes were still on halt, we moved our ten-year-old newsletter from Mailchimp to Substack in the course of one day. It was January 1st, 2021. New year, new life.
It took me almost two years to find my voice on Substack because I had to make up with the idea that I was not cheating on my blog when I was sharing my recipes and stories here rather than on Juls’ Kitchen.
If I was Juls’ Kitchen, was I betraying myself? Was I looking down on what made me find my life purpose? Here comes my innate sense of guilt. But once you recognize it, you name it and you can silence it.
Now I share my best food writing, random thoughts, personal stories and researched recipes here on Substack, while the blog remains an online archive of free, tested, reliable recipes. Two sides of the same coin, two sides of the same person.
Why do I like Substack? Because Substack is not just a newsletter, is a community of writers (and readers), where I am constantly motivated to do better. I give myself permission to write about kitchen failures and disasters, the different varieties of tomatoes in a Tuscan market, cookbook crushes, and the story of a marble table.
Here I am the food writer I want to be because I’m not waiting for a magazine to hire me to write, I reclaimed my space and time to do this.
And you, who read our newsletter, subscribed, commented, and shared our articles, you granted us time and resources to write. You hold me accountable.
The more you write, the better you get at it, as it happens with everything in life: sourdough bread, omelettes, somersaults, photography.
After more than two years of weekly newsletter writing, with the most diverse prompts and seasonal inspirations, I find my food writing is evolved, first of all because I silenced my sense of guilt and that annoying inner voice constantly telling me who are you to write about this?
So who am I? Giulia Scarpaleggia, a Tuscan food writer and cookbook author with a Southern baroque surname, who writes weekly letters from Tuscany.
Will I still write on the blog?
Yes, my answer is a solid yes. I love Juls’ Kitchen dearly, I owe my blog a passion, a career, a vocation, some of my best friends, a flourishing business… and a husband.
What will change is the rhythm of my posts and what I am going to share there. The Juls’ Kitchen blog is an archive of free recipes (more than 700 delicious, Italian, Tuscan, and seasonal recipes shared over more than a decade), the place where I will share occasional new recipes, where we upload all the info for cooking classes, edible experiences, food writing or recipe writing workshops, along with foodie guides to our favourite areas of Tuscany, and beyond.
How long have you been reading Juls’ Kitchen - the blog, or the newsletter? Do you still read and comment on blogs?
RECIPE. Torta di nocciole - Hazelnut cake
Let’s get back to the blog, though. Today, to celebrate this personal milestone, I share a hazelnut cake that you already loved on Instagram. Now there’s a place for the recipe online where it can be found, archived, tried, and added to your weekly rotation or cooking repertoire. Now the hazelnut cake is in a safe space, in my online recipe notebook.
This hazelnut cake, inspired by the classic Piedmontese torta di nocciole, hazelnut cake, from Langhe, is surprising in its simplicity: make it for breakfast, serve it with a hot cup of tea, and smother it with raspberry jam. For an after-dinner treat, serve the cake with an espresso and a coffee or chocolate icing.
If you need to print this recipe to keep it in your kitchen and use it for scribbling down your notes, you find the printable PDF below. Print just odd pages to avoid photos and save ink.
If you make this recipe, share it via email and send me a picture at email@example.com, or on Social Media using the hashtags #myseasonaltable #julskitchen and #lettersfromtuscany, and tag @julskitchen
REMINDER! Pre-order Cucina Povera
Cucina Povera is our upcoming cookbook, we talked about it here. It will be available wherever books are sold on April 4, 2023, but it is already available for pre-order.
I know it may seem odd to ask you to preorder a book now especially when it will be delivered in April, but preorders are the best way to support an author and help a book succeed.
At the moment, Cucina Povera is on discount on Amazon.com (14% off the final price).
Once you pre-ordered the book, head over here where you can receive an instant download of the Cucina Povera Bonus Recipe Booklet, featuring six delicious recipes that will complement the final edition of the cookbook.
Dive into some of my favourite recipes now while you wait for your copy and share your creations with #cucinapovera on Instagram.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: If you liked reading this post, let us know by clicking on the heart button, sharing it with your friends and family, or on social media (it only takes 2 seconds for you, it took me about 8 hours to write this). It would help us so much to get discovered by other like-minded people.
By the way, I just noticed that the last recipe Clotilde Dusuolier shared on the blog, a Yogurt Cake, dates back to August 2020. Now she is a life coach.
I so much enjoyed reading about your journey from blogging to substack! The potential of Substack is so beautiful and free from game-playing, isn’t it? I realized last autumn that my own writing never suited a blog as well as it does this form, and moved my own work over. I love that you’re keeping both as different ways to express yourself. ☺️❤️
Congratulations. I absolutely love your blog and your never fail recipes. I have thoroughly enjoyed years of getting your email newsletter and sitting down with a drink or coffee and knowing your positive words and joy will make me smile plus I know now that your recipes are easy to follow, I never need to rush out and buy expensive ingredients and they always work and taste delicious. Thank you for your dedication 🙏