On my morning perusal of the nine or so food blogs I regularly (obsessively?) follow, I came across a link to this great Saveur article on Cannelle-et-Vanille’s site.
It caught my eye, because, in many ways, food blogging has changed my life, too.
I have Isabel Lowney-Brouhard to thank for this–she tipped me off, sometime in 2008, I think, to a list of the best food blogs. I can’t remember who compiled this list, but it was a legit magazine. I clicked on Orangette, sucker that I am for pretty French words, and there it was: Molly Wizenburg’s lovely blog, archives full of beautiful, funny, well-turned prose about food, with a few artful photographs to illuminate her words.
I was worthless for the remainder of the day, reading recipe after recipe and all her stories. I had years of her writing to catch up on. I read about her friends, her Seattle, her time in college and after in France and Paris, her relationship with her boyfriend, which gradually grew into engagement and marriage.
It was the best thing ever, like finding a delightful book full of short, winsome chapters formed around an Alsatian onion tart or an “Everyday Cake,” and there were always fresh chapters being added.
Her blog led me to others, and I found my other favorite, by Deb Perelman in New York City, Smitten Kitchen. Deb’s style of writing wasn’t quite as literary and poignant, but it was full of sharp wit and funny self-deprecation and gorgeous, salivation-worthy photographs.
Through these I found others: Adam from Amateur Gourmet, Luisa from The Wednesday Chef, David Lebovitz, to name some favorites.
Brett teases me for the time I spend reading these blogs. I’m always mentioning them, like the other day at Brasserie Flo, as we perused the menu on the sunny terrace.
“Fennel’s a hot item now; all the bloggers have written about it,” I assured him in reference to a dish that caught his eye.
“Wow, these guys at Flo are really up on the scene, must be reading those food blogs and everything,” he replied.
I launched into a monologue then, about how food bloggers don’t necessarily make the trends, but they recycle them and talk about them and create even more buzz. That’s what I love about them. Like the Saveur article says, food blogs level the playing field. There are experts in food, chefs in award-winning New York City restaurants, and then there’s Adam from the Amateur Gourmet, or Deb from Smitten Kitchen, who go to these restaurants or read the cookbooks from these chefs, and write about it, who cook up a storm in their tiny home kitchens.
Nothing is sacred. If Deb doesn’t like a recipe, she’ll say so, and she’ll adapt and change it and try it again until it works, and she’ll write down all the details so we don’t have to slog through the same mistakes.
But even then it’s not done; it’s never done, because there are the reader comments, and someone will have a problem with the recipe, and maybe she’ll address that, or someone notates a delicious spin-off of Deb’s adaptation…
and so it goes. It’s a beautiful thing.
And after reading Ganda Suthivarakom (sweet-ass name!)’s article in Saveur, which I actually found via this one: http://www.saveur.com/article/Kitchen/A-Brief-Food-Blog-Timeline?cmpid=teaser, I’ve decided I want to join the club.
Haven’t you already? you might ask. Here I am writing about creating my own food blog on, well, my own blog.
Well, sort of. Yes, this is a blog, and I could definitely write about food here.
But I want to make some changes.
I’ve been thinking recently of focuses for my blog, a sort of angle.
Suthivarakom encourages me (yes, me), “Don’t be discouraged if you don’t find your niche right away. It really takes some time to settle into a good rhythm.”
I appreciate her words; they’re reassuring, but yet…there are so many great blogs out there! And I’m such a computer illiterate! And I don’t own a camera!
And there is the angle thing. I’ve thought of having no angle, of just writing willy-nilly what comes, with a photograph or two, something in the vein of Orangette or the Wednesday Chef.
Really, that’s what most of the blogs I follow do. Maybe some of them started with an angle, a hook, like blogging about recipes in the New York Times or every cookbook in their collection or something, but with time they settled into a comfortable groove, writing what they like in their own voice, and readers (like me) come back for it every time because we know their voices.
I’ve thought about learning more about Chinese food, and writing about my experiences with that. But I don’t want to limit myself to just that. There will be times I want to roast a chicken in mustard and white wine and thyme, and I don’t want to include any soy sauce, fish paste, or umami of any kind into a dish.
Whatever I decide on, some changes will be made. I want to write more, and I’m going part-time at work soon so I can do just that. I’m going to buy a camera, and learn to use it. And perhaps I’ll belatedly join the cool crowd and switch to tumblr. Maybe I will. If not, I’ll spruce up this space and make it more visually cool. Let’s face it, I go to Orangette for her refreshing prose and interesting recipes, but her simple, elegant design and low resolution polaroids and hip font don’t hurt, either. Everyone likes hip fonts. Everyone. Would you read a blog composed in Comic Sans or Times New Roman? I rest my case.
I don’t know if I can find the angle, the font, the prose, or the photographs to land me, eventually, as editor of the Saveur website; I don’t know if book deals and thousands of comments and accolades await. I can dream, of course.
But I don’t want to dream too hard about that. Rather, I want to work hard on creating my own little corner of the web that is beautiful. I want to write, as Anne Lamott says in Bird by Bird, not for publication, but for the joy of writing. Because, when it comes down to this one little fleeting life I have, that’s more important than a Saveur blog award.
Here I go.