Digital Story Critique #6: Tourte Milanaise

*I am currently working my way through my fourth semester of the Information and Learning Technologies master’s program at University of Colorado, Denver.  This is the sixth post within a series of critiques on digital stories that I’ve been assigned to write for a course titled Digital Storytelling.

This week’s critique is on a short video titled Tourte Milanaise, from a farm-to-table video blog by Aube Giroux.  She is a passionate organic gardener and home cook who likes to share the stories of how food gets to our dinner plates.  She was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award in 2014 and 2015 and won Saveur Magazine’s 2012 Best Food Blog award in the video category.  I found this specific video on PBS Food, where Ms. Giroux has her own series that showcases her incredibly beautiful food videos.  You can see her stunning photography on her Instagram account and see all of her delicious recipes on her blog.  (And for those who didn’t know, PBS has an incredible section on food with dozens of recipes and videos!)

I chose to critique this specific piece because it very much pertains to my theme for this course, a self-reflection on life, through food.  It also, unsurprisingly, really “spoke” to me.  I say “unsurprisingly” because I’ve had my own food blog for the last six years and I’m really passionate about cooking, food photography, and blogging about food and food photography.  Between working full-time, raising a two-year-old, spending every free second with my husband, and working to complete this Master’s degree, I have yet to give the attention to my own food blog that I wish I could.  So when I see a blog such as Ms. Giroux’s, my heart goes a-flutter and I daydream about the time when I will be able to devote my full efforts to my own passions.

Tourte Milanaise recipe

Image and recipe here.

This piece also spoke to me because this specific video is about a recipe that is a Christmas tradition.  I was the 5th child in a Brady Bunch-esque family (there were “his and hers” kids) and I think that by the time I came around, traditions were the last things on my parent’s minds.  I can remember having mac-n-cheese and meatloaf on Fridays, but that was out of convenience and most definitely not a tradition.  I have been trying to start my own family traditions with my husband and our daughter, but again, time just seems to fly away from me and before I know it, weekends, birthdays, and holidays have come and gone.  Watching this specific video makes me yearn for the future where I hope to have my own traditions and my own recipes that evoke the feelings that Ms. Giroux’s videos do.

As a requirement of this course, I critiqued this piece using the following traits from Jason Ohler’s “Assessing digital stories, new media narrative“:  1.) originality, voice, and creativity, 2.) presentation and performance, 3.) and sense of audience.

  • Originality, Voice, and Creativity – This production was incredibly creative.  Ms. Giroux used footage of the gardens, soils, and farms that grew the ingredients in the featured recipe and she presents the recipe as a story instead of a traditional “how to” video.  I’d never come across any recipe videos in this style until I watched Ms. Giroux’s.  She exhibits an original sense of voice and a fresh perspective in all of her videos and makes the viewer feel many things other than just hunger.  This story evokes a feeling of sense of family, home, and tradition.  It makes you want to make this recipe not only because it looks delicious, but because it makes you feel like you can feel the way the people in the video do.
  • Presentation and Performance – The presentation of this story in the format of a short film is genius.  Instead of a traditional food blog with recipes and photographs, Ms. Giroux’s blog contains dozens of videos, including this Tourte Milanaise one.  Physically showing where the recipe’s ingredients come from and who the people are that will be eating this food makes the experience personal and meaningful for the viewer.
  • Sense of Audience – Ms. Giroux creates her videos and recipes for a specific audience…food lovers.  It’s obvious that she understands what her viewers and readers want to see and read.  She creates phenomenal short films and stunning photographs and truly understands what appeals to her audience.  She is an incredibly gifted and talented food blogger, photographer, and videographer.

PBS Kitchen Vignettes