Facebook, where so many of us spend so much time, is home to some intense food nerdery (and thank goodness for that). Here are a few of the best.
Oh, Facebook. You’re a place to reconnect with old friends, check in on exes, waste valuable work hours, “Like” memes, follow fantastic food sites, and of course nerd out.
How do we mean? Well, does this mean anything to you?
45.76% 2 row
16.95% flaked wheat
Mashed at 145°
Pre acidified to 4.5ph
Left outside overnight near some zin vines for 12 hours at the winery I work at.
If you brew beer, it might, which is why I loved stumbling on to Milk the Funk, a Facebook Group connected to a site and Wiki of the same name, and devoted to “all things fermentation and brewing [process].” I’ve never brewed my own beer, but admire those who do, so it’s great to see men and women dorking out about yeast strains like Brettanomyces and the water chemistry required for making sour beer.
It’s worth noting that as is true of all these groups, don’t jump into the fray unless you’re truly interested. Most will bounce you if you spam or simply post pretty photos without context; these pages tend to be for true, committed single-topic aficionados.
Let’s take the Artisan bread bakers page, for example. Whereas on the beer page I was admiring my fellow nerds from a distance, on this page? Oh, I’ll be spending a lot of time here. How did that one woman slash the dough when it was rising to get that perfect starburst on top? And what’s the recipe for those homemade sourdough buns? The best posts here dip into issues like type of yeast used, whether bread was mixed by hand or in a machine, and of course—when you’re lucky—the precise recipe.
There’s something about fermentation that apparently really gets people going on Facebook, since the Kefir Group has nearly 12,000 members. The fermented milk drink has been undergoing a popularity boom that recalls matcha (which, not to worry, has plenty of fan pages, too!) Among its astonishing 108 active posts are those about kefir grains “dying,” fermentation times, and finished-product texture conundrums. The page comprises an amazing deep dive into a homemade food people truly want to master.
If you’re looking for a group populated by fellow obsessives, a general good rule is to simply type its name into the big box at the top of your page, then click “Groups.” (Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t seem to allow one to sort by number of members, which would allow us to find the heavy hitters faster.) And don’t forget about foods that you won’t always find listed under their English names. Chinese soup dumplings are called xiao long bao, and I for one love that there’s a xiao long bao appreciation society. (My membership is still pending as of this writing; fingers crossed!)
If you want to build community around a technique you’re trying to master—such as sous vide, in which a circulating water bath cooks food evenly at a steady temperature, or a gadget like Instant Pot, which has a great fan page—you can do so. Know, though, that with technique, there will usually be a brand hovering somewhere at the periphery. Anova hosts a popular sous vide group that’s 5,100 members strong, and Sous Vide for Dummies (8,400 members) asks that you shop their Amazon page. Still, these pages are good places to ask questions, toot your own horn about a success, and vent when things go awry.
When it comes to finding your people, sometimes the most literal search will produce the best results. A friend directed me to Hungarian food, which she says “mostly consists of old Hungarians shouting at each other in the comments about whether a posted recipe is or is not authentic.” It’s much more than that, of course, with links to histories of Hungarian gastronomy, dumpling and sausage photos, and tips for improving your főzelék (a sort of vegetable stew) game.
As you try to find your dream Facebook food community, it’s worth remembering that learning new things tends to make us humans happier—almost as happy as that “Which Golden Girl Are You?” quiz you just took.
Alex Van Buren is a food and travel writer living in Brooklyn, New York whose work has appeared in Gourmet.com, Bon Appétit, Travel + Leisure, New York Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, and Epicurious. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @alexvanburen.