Saturday, September 16, 2006

My Summer Reading – FB2B, Part 32

While some folks might curl up with a juicy novel or the latest thriller, the dwindling days of summer 2006 found me reading up on blogs and blogging. I’ve also been analyzing some of the blogs I read on a semi-regular basis. Recently, after having written for eight months or so, I actually decided to do some studying up on this concept, much like looking at the instructions only after something doesn’t quite seem to work the way that you had thought it might.

After work one day, I headed over to the Mid-Manhattan Branch of the New York Public Library to look for books about HTML (I love the NYPL.) and doing my own website. There must have been a mad rush by New Yorkers to brush up on their computer skills during the dog days of August, because not a single book on that topic was on the shelves. To me that seemed a bit odd, as there really isn’t much to starting one’s own blog from a technical standpoint. Log onto Blogger.com and it walks you through the process.

What I was trying to do by researching this was to figure out a deeper philosophical question regarding The Experimental Gourmand: Where is its place in the blogsphere and what do I want it to be? This is not a light-hearted endeavo(u)r. As this link from Cravings points out, blogs are now analyzing other blogs and selecting which ones they think are worthwhile recommending to the wider blog audience. It seems as though there must be some cycle in which newspapers or magazines highlight blogs and the foodblogging phenomenon because something seems to appear every so often about the same topic in the print press.

One of the key things about blogs rather than magazines and newspaper articles is that you can actually directly query the writer. Well-run blogs feature long strings of comments and often will have questions answered directly by the host. How often can you just ask someone about something he or she wrote and get a response from that person? I know that most of you who check out this site are lurkers (i.e., those who read but don’t comment), but for many folks this is a way to create a dynamic exchange of information and ideas.

Food blogs have expanded at a rapid pace since the inception of this method of communication. They have been considered for awards in the most prestigious of culinary prizes – The James Beard Awards. Several well-known bloggers have been awarded book contracts and have become food writers for the more mainstream newspapers and magazines (Julie/Julia Project, Chocolate & Zucchini). They even have their own advertising network.

In a twist (not with a twist), a few prominent food journalists are now hosting their own blogs, such as Frank Bruni of the New York Times. It seems as though the lines are getting a bit blurry these days, which is interesting as a cooking writer and teacher told me two years ago during her course, “Nobody reads blogs.” At that point, I’d been reading them for six months or more.

Many food blogs list their other favorite blogs and link to interesting articles by the same. The Food Section is one of my must-reads a couple of times a week as it brings together information from lots of different sources as well as highlights for what is happening in the New York food world. (I often think that lots of the food blogs are written by New Yorkers – are we that obsessed with food?) I also check out Gothamist on a regular basis.

What seems to have developed, from my blog, is more of a weekly food-related column more than what might be strictly considered a blog. My hope for The Experimental Gourmand is that you find the information on this site to be useful and entertaining. It’s definitely helped me realize that I am passionate about food and food-related things. I’ve learned quite a bit in trying to explore my passion for food and eating in working with this new medium and my digital camera. It also helps me chronical different events in my life and helps me to tuck away positive memories, even in the darkest of days.

As a parting shot, and by way of encouragement to get y’all more interested in this electronic exchange, here’s my list of some of my favorite food blogs. I probably look at each of these every week and tap into some of their links if I’m researching something in particular. Someday, and with your help, maybe I’ll get to be in their league. Not every city where you live even comes close to being covered, but I hope that you’ll find some sites from which you can get some great food and eating ideas. Some of these also cover health-related food issues.

101 Cookbooks (www.101cookbooks.com) – For those of you wondering about what to do with your overflowing shelves of cookbooks and pages of recipes torn from magazines, Heidi Swanson decided that she need to start cooking from them. Here are her chronicles.
An Obsession with Food (www.obsessionwithfood.com) – West Coast-based food writer who seems very tapped into that area’s happenings. I love the copper pots that he uses as his banner on the top of his site. He’s also very into wine.
Becks & Posh (www.becksposhnosh.blogspot.com) – Modern Cockney rhyming slang for “nosh,” according to the header on the site, Sam is very involved in the San Francisco food network. Really, one of my favorite blogs.
Bourrez Votre Visage (www.bourrezvisage.com) – French for “stuff your face,” this was one of the early blogs to receive press acclaim. I checked it out before posting today and it now seems to be an ad for one of the blogger’s own businesses. Shame because they had a good angle on DC restaurants. Good for the list of blogs on the “Food Blog Central” tab.
Chez Pim (chezpim.typepad.com) – Pim has made the transition to doing what she loves about food fulltime. She is considered one of the standard-bearers of the medium.
Chocolate & Zucchini (www.chocolateandzucchini.com) – an odd combination for a name, but then blog titles generally reflect the passions of the writer(s). This is an informative and very well-known blog. Clotilde lived for a few years in California and is now back in Paris. She has some great recipes and is now writing a cookbook.
Chowhound (www.chowhound.com) – Looking for the best restaurant in Guam? Trying to find out what to do with the random items in the food basket Great-Aunt Sophronia sent you last holiday season? Post your questions here and you are likely to find the answers to them. One of the early sites to tap into foodie mania.
eGullet (www.egullet.org) – Renown site for culinary information and tidbits. The forums are the places to find all sorts of information and food facts. This is the one site on which you will have to register to get access to all of its features.
Epicurious (www.epicurious.com) – This is an essential resource for cooks. I’m not sure that you could actually throw away all of your cookbooks and solely rely on this website for ideas, but you could come pretty close. The key to using it well is also to read the comments at the bottom of the recipes of those who have tried to make these dishes before you. Their changes can sometimes be goldmines. This site also acts as a repository for recipes from Gourmet and Bon Appétit magazines
Gothamist (www.gothamist.com) – o.k. so technically not a foodblog, but they do run food things and are great for updates of NYC happenings/politics/news in general. Also have Dcist, Sfist, etc. It is one of my daily must-reads.
Julie/Julia Project (http://blogs.salon.com/0001399) this blog has ended and Julie has moved to another site to continue her writing career (juliepowell.blogspot.com). She’s another individual who has made the transition from blog writer to author to freelance writer. Her hook? She worked her way through Julia Child’s The Art of French Cooking and blogged about it for the world to follow her successes and failures.
Leite’s Culinaria (http://www.leitesculinaria.com) David Leite is a respected food writer, some of whose work you might have already read. His articles on various food-related topics combine information with a dash of humor. This site is full of recipes that have been tried by his team of testers. He is the recipient of the 2006 James Beard Award for Best Internet Food Web Site.
Nordljus (www.nordljus.co.uk/en) – Hands down, the best blog out there for food photography. This isn’t just my opinion, either. Folks write about how in awe they are of these creations and their visual representation. Having just started to try to take photos of food (even if it generally doesn’t squirm around like little children), I can tell you, getting shots like these is not easy.
Slashfood (www.slashfood.com) – A much-quoted, very respected blog. Again, one of my standbys and must-reads. Also check out the links to other food blogs here.
Slice (www.sliceny.com) – hard to believe that a one-food-topic blog dedicated to pizza is a huge hit, right? Lots of people are very passionate about this topic. Also check out A Hamburger Today (www.ahamburgertoday.com) for another installment by the same author.
The Amateur Gourmet (http://www.amateurgourmet.com/) By a New York-based food writer and graduate student. His breadth is wide and he covers lots of topics. What might be more of interest to the non-NYC set are his cooking experiments, which he’s now letting us see via videoclip (vlogs).
The Food Section (http://www.thefoodsection.com) Personally, I don’t consider this to be a blog but more of an on-line food resource, as it gathers together information from various sources and republishes it. The yellow sidebar keeps track of lots of interesting articles, recent food press, and tidbits.
Buon appetito!

No comments:

All Images and Text copyright by The Experimental Gourmand 2005-2011. All rights reserved.