"I have always been very surprised by the “un-authentic” way Italian food is seen and reproduced outside of Italy. After moving to Australia, I have felt the need to help spread a more authentic Italian cuisine, the way we actually cook at home. So Manu’s Menu became a space where, besides sharing international recipes, I try to promote real Italian cuisine." Manuela Zangara
Manuela Zangara is the lady on the right, who is responsible for my next popular blog Manu's Menu. She was raised in Milan by Sicilian parents, married an Australian/Indian and now lives in Sydney. So yes this is an Australian blog. It's also yet another that uses that company Mediavine to, I think, handle the advertising.
And boy is there a lot of advertising on this particular blog. So much that every few lines of text is interrupted by an advert of some kind, as well as the side column being filled with them. Some of the stuff in the side column is self-advertising I guess, but there is also a heck of a lot from elsewhere. For me there is so much advertising that I find it difficult to work out easily what is advertising and what is text, or pictures to do with the blog. Perhaps it's particularly difficult to work out the pictures. And it's not just on the main pages, the same thing happens when you come to an actual recipe. But then I guess if you are going to actually make blogging your job, your career - you have to have advertising. I mean that must be how you make your money.
Well there are books too - she has written a couple and under the Affiliate button it implies there are other products to sell but I don't really know what they are.
She began the site in 2011 which may explain why there don't seem to be many Italian recipes in her posts. Every month she has a monthly menu plan which consists of recipes for each week - 6 mains, 3 sides and 2 desserts For November there seemed to be only a couple of Italian recipes, the rest were, if anything a bit American. Initially I thought that even with Italian food there are only a certain number of Italian dishes to cover and that maybe she had run out of ideas. However as we know any 'authentic' dish has a thousand different versions according to who's nonna made it. I remember an Italian cooking program - an actual Italian one - in which this guy went to little dishes and asked all the local cooks to cook their version of whatever the local speciality was. And, surprise, surprise - they were all different. And people keep churning out new Italian cookbooks.
However, I then started to click on the dishes that she had listed for November and found that, in fact, they are not her recipes at all. The clicks will take you to all sorts of other sites, so the menu plan is just a collection of recipes she has found here and there. Which is a completely legitimate thing to do, as she is not claiming them as her her own, but not quite how it was presented. I don't think the Recipe Tin Eats lady for example would have done that.
To be fair she does also have her own recipes. It looks like she does a post every two or three days, but again the recipes on offer at the moment are not very Italian - Macadamia Dukkah, Sourdough cinnamon muffins, Blueberry jam, Yuzu pannacotta ...
I was also a little bit taken aback to hear her say that it was really difficult to cook authentically Italian food here in Australia. Surely not. Sure most of what we ordinary people cook as Italian is not authentic Italian, and sure we don't have Perugian tomatoes and Ligurian basil, but Australian produce is pretty good and if you really want to be truly authentic and have money then you can buy anything online or in specialist shops, even sometimes in your local supermarket to make your cooking authentic.
But I sympathise. As you can tell I am going through an uninspired patch myself, and if you are trying to make money out of your blogging, then the pressure must be much more intense to find something new and exciting to write about.
I also should mention that one section of the blog is a travel blog. She and her family obviously travel a fair bit - well did - their last trip was to Italy in late 2019 - and she writes these trips up too. Well maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. Lots of photos - good ones - and a few words scattered in between each very large photo so that you have to keep scrolling down. Maybe it's the software she uses. But surely it would be better to create a slideshow or a gallery that your viewers can click through. And there are always the inevitable ads that pop up here and there too.
I'm being a bit critical here I know. But I must admit that when I started this little series on popular blogs I was hoping to find really inspiring beautiful sites that would give me ideas, and maybe even introduce me to new dishes that I might try. So far, not so much.