You make good points about the appeal of food photography; my question probably went a little too far.
In terms of writing that introduces a recipe, at first blush, it seems pretty superfluous to me. I almost always skip that bit on food blogs because it’s usually some cutesy story about kids or gushing about how delicious the food is, which, y’know, I’ll be the judge of that. And in cookbook recipes, there’s usually not much of a preamble, and it’s basically just part of the recipe anyway.
But I did think of a piece of food-related, recipe-based media where the framing is much more important than the recipe itself: Good Eats. I’m pretty into cooking now, and I can trace it all back to Alton Brown’s goofy food science show. (I even wrote an ode to it a few years ago that I’m only somewhat embarrassed by now.) I don’t think I still use any of Alton’s recipes today, but I employ techniques and knowledge I got from Good Eats every time I’m in the kitchen.
I also recently picked up a huge classic book on French cooking called La Varenne Pratique, which I think will follow a similar pattern. I’m not too interested in the dishes it contains, but I’m very excited to learn the skills it describes. So, there’s one case where the introduction to a recipe really matters: when it’s trying to teach you something you will use long after the food is consumed.