Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Blogs for food writers?


Recommended Posts

If your purpose when creating a blog is the art of writing, by all means do. In this case the writing has to be very good, of course.

There is, of course, an irony here. While people accept that bloggers might use their blogs simply as a means for practicing the craft, they also demand that the writing be top-notch. Curious. What does practice mean, then?

For instance, I'm trying to define for myself an individual style for tasting notes (mostly inspired by David Schildkecht's great notes). So I've started regularly posting tasting notes on my blog. Many are still of the "conservative wine magazine" style--the style I had to learn when I did "serious" tasting notes for the first time. But I'm putting them up there, rolling them about, seeing what I like and don't like. It's practice. Practice with different styles, practice putting my notes about any given wine into a usable context. I told my readers up front what I'm doing, though many will have forgotten and many others will be coming into this midstream. Such is life.

Are they badly written? Well, I hope not. I edit them of course (arguably, my blog is now more about practicing self-editing than it is about writing; I typically spend more time on the former than the latter), but that's not to say they're in the style I eventually want to develop. They're not.

So what then?

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another thing (which I am still figuring out) is PR -- some bloggers are getting insane press and I readily admit to jealousy on that account. Not too long ago, there were a number of articles written across the country about food bloggers. These articles appeared in the SF Chron, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and a few others I can't exactly recall.

Here's an alternate view. Many of the bloggers I know who were mentioned in those various articles report that their readership spiked after the article (whichever one) and quickly regressed to normal levels, maybe with a slight increase. That was certainly true of my numbers after the Chron article (I _had_ to look!). But now, a couple months later, I regularly get the same number of readers _consistently_ that I did during the Chron spike. Why? How? I don't know. But I'll take regular readers over a blip any day. I had one person comment recently (when I did a post wishing my wife a happy anniversary) that she remembered when we left on our honeymoon. That was two years ago! That's amazing, and just about one of the coolest comments anyone's ever left on my site.

Publicity's nice and all, but I don't know that it nets you what you'd expect.

Derrick Schneider

My blog: http://www.obsessionwithfood.com

You have to eat. You might as well enjoy it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had one person comment recently (when I did a post wishing my wife a happy anniversary) that she remembered when we left on our honeymoon.

Interesting -- thanks, Derrick. I was speaking with Tom at Fermentations last night about tracking unique visitors and he recommended StatCounter. Are you familiar with that? I haven't had a chance to look into it.

BTW, I your anniversary piece was just lovely and I meant to comment on it the day it was posted. I love the angled shot of you and Melissa... :wub:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is, of course, an irony here. While people accept that bloggers might use their blogs simply as a means for practicing the craft, they also demand that the writing be top-notch. Curious. What does practice mean, then?

No irony on my side. I don't consider blogging as practicing at all. Indeed, nothing could be further from practicing IMO. Practicing is what you do when nobody sees you, isn't it — until you feel ready? Blogging is full-sized, entirely-for-real, dive-and-swim writing. It is publishing on a much wider scale than book or magazine writing. It is much more exhibitionistic. It has its own characteristics. I really don't think good blog writing is ever done by lack of a nobler medium, or as a stepladder to "the real thing", which is why I don't see it as practise. The blogs I like couldn't be anything else than blogs, they never let you suspect that their authors dream of "being published for real". They are based on a good understanding of the media support and of its unique character.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had one person comment recently (when I did a post wishing my wife a happy anniversary) that she remembered when we left on our honeymoon. That was two years ago! That's amazing, and just about one of the coolest comments anyone's ever left on my site.

This reminds us of why the world wide web sparked wonder in the first place. The connection with strangers so far away shrinks the globe to that of a simple neighborhood. We meet on common ground: anniversary, noisy neighbors, food...

That is why I think once blogs take on more of a marketing veneer, they will go the way of websites in general. A web page used to be a novelty, now they are more of a shill. Blogs will suffer the same if, as ptipois mentioned, they become show-offy - a vehicle for self-promotion, hard to distinguish among all the commercial dreck.

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One really great point that David Leite (hallowed be his name) made in his Q & A is that his constant journaling improved his writing. I don't add to my blog (nice word, huh? Sounds like you're puking, doesn't it?) every day, but I would bet I easily write a thousand words a day in personal communiqués, posts at various online communities, and in e-mails pertinent to the details of my work.

My beautiful handwriting has suffered, but I type like a demon now, so there's another added benefit to writing daily.

One other way to improve your own writing is to read good writers. You will eventually internalize them, if you read enough, and I believe that their voices inside you will come to be informative and perhaps instructive. I experienced this for the first time after immersing myself in Steinbeck for a few months in my early twenties. One day I noticed that I could hear his voice reading to me in my head. It was a bit miraculous and wonderful. I've never forgotten it. I've no idea if it was actually his voice, of course, but who needs to know that? It worked.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Its main interest has to do with freedom, and like all free means of expression it requires a lot of rigor to be interesting. There is an art of the blog which is totally new, and very different from any other existing art of written or pictural expression.

I am a writer, I don't need to get published. That's why I have a blog. I use it to relax, to put in things that don't get into my other writings. After a while the contents may become a basis for "official" writings but not necessarily, and to me this is not the purpose of the blog. All things considered, I think my blog is better than my published writings.

Yes, freedom. That is one reason I want to start a blog seperately with my own 'user agreement.'

It's also a way for me to expand my teaching.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I started a blog years ago for my own sanity. I don't attempt to publicize it, and I have very few readers. But it did get me a real writing job, out of the blue. It's not an approach I recommend if you really want to be a writer, but you never know.

I use blogger, by the way, which is free. It's certainly not a beautiful as Tana's blog, but it works fine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As chefs we are continuously searching, talking and thus writing about food. Our blog is a resource of ideas for ourselves and hopefully others enjoy reading and viewing it as well. It pushes us to write down ideas and thoughts not merely as I like to--on post it notes--but rather in a somewhat organized manner. Similarly, the ability to update and refine thoughts while following them through a progression is allowing us to focus on dining. When you see something in print and read it a whole other view of the subject is possible.

h. alexander talbot

chef and author

Levittown, PA

ideasinfood

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks so much to everyone who replied to my post - it was really great to get so many thoughtful replies and useful information.

My personal take on all this is that I will likely start a blog of my own - it may evolve into a website at some point. I see it's purpose as twofold: first, as a central repository for my work and somewhere to point editors to so they can get a feeling for what my writing is like and secondly, as a impetus for myself to write more and develop my style. To play around with different types of food writing, it's all experimental for me at this point. I don't see it as a popularity contest of any kind - I don't even expect to see any kind of loyal readership develop. I'm new at this so I'm sure I will look back at my first posts in a year and see how far I've come (let's hope so!). And of course, if I do happen to get published, I will definitely have a posting to link to that. I agree that having photos on your blog would be a definite asset as well - I'm working on that too. You've all spurred my enthusiasm - so much to do, see and taste (better start writing!)...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I started a blog years ago for my own sanity. I don't attempt to publicize it, and I have very few readers. But it did get me a real writing job, out of the blue. It's not an approach I recommend if you really want to be a writer, but you never know.

I use blogger, by the way, which is free. It's certainly not a beautiful as Tana's blog, but it works fine.

"Pretty" can more more than one thing. A lack of typos and the proper use of apostrophes are beautiful to me, as is clean and intelligent writing. In that regard, your blog rocks, as you are informed, passionate, and knowledgeable. Also, your voice is pretty clear.

Mine has to be "pretty" because that's what I'm selling: the beauty of the farms, and the people who spend their lives creating something truly useful on this ailing planet.

Your blog rocks, Badthings.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... I truly wish blogging had been around ten years ago when I was cooking all my historic feasts. ... if all those meals had been documented.
Small historical digression: It was available, more or less -- not just 10, but 20+ years ago. (Internet public forums widely accessible in the US and Europe.) Here are An example from 1983 answering a query on wine books, and Another from 1987. Public then, public now.

However, not everyone was doing it then. (Those who weren't will sometimes describe that as the Internet "not existing.") Not only must the technical capability be there, it also must be popular. As now.

... Blogging is nice for me, as I can design the whole thing, and I do not have an Editor Scissorhands© botching my work and adding typos (e.g., "Earl Gray tea") to my writing.
Good one, Tana. All who've suffered at one time or another at the whims of illiterate editors are with you on that.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Small historical digression:  It was available, more or less -- not just 10, but 20+ years ago.  (Internet public forums widely accessible in the US and Europe.)  Here are An example from 1983 answering a query on wine books, and Another from 1987.  Public then, public now.

However, not everyone was doing it then.  (Those who weren't will sometimes describe that as the Internet "not existing.")  Not only must the technical capability be there, it also must be popular.  As now.

Oh Max... go ahead make me feel bad! :biggrin:

Actually, it was really the advent of the digital camera that changed it for me. I WAS documenting my meals, but with old, standard cameras where it was not as cost-affective to scan the images for website postings. I did do it occasionally, but not inexpensively. By-and-large, it had to involve more tech savvy information than I certainly had. There was also not quite the audience for it. The meals I was preparing were for folks who didn't even own computers...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh Max... go ahead make me feel bad!  :biggrin:

:sad: No such intent, Carolyn, I guess you know. A pet peeve came into play. (I had a little screed in print in 1999 -- this was some time before the advent of eGullet, I think -- "Why does the public think the Internet is a new phenomenon?" -- after a technical writer garbled Internet history by 20 years. (The very worst misinformation today, by the way, is in "Internet History" offerings online, which spring up daily, and diligently plagiarize each others' misinformation, adding their own distortions for a whiff of originality.) Drink deep, or taste not ...

Your health -- Max

--

"The WWW world consists of documents, and links. . . . Making a web is as simple as writing a few SGML files which point to your existing data. -- Tim Berners-Lee, Message-ID: <6487@cernvax.cern.ch>, 6 Aug 91 16:00:12 GMT, Subject: WorldWideWeb: Summary. [First announcement of "Web" online and by the way, a professional editor would of course have changed Berners-Lee's "which" to "that," and with reason. Pitfalls of "self-publishing." --MH]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is a link to the SF Chronicle article on food bloggers:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?...FDG00BJAGE1.DTL

We recently started a new Bay Area food company and have found that the food blogs that write about our business send much better customers to us than any mainstream press. We have an PR agency and have gotten great write ups but the blogs are more trusted by many readers. They are definitely going to be the future of the new "word of mouth" marketing, i have seen a dozen seminars on it in the last month.

On another note, if have a blog and are looking for more information on tracking your users and their habits you should check out ClickTracks.com or WebTrends.com. Most of the blogs i think provide pretty basic tracking but if you are able to integrate some of these other services you can get invaluable information.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First of all, congratulations to everyone on this thread who is blogging. The most cursory look at some of your sites shows that you are doing some really amazing things!

Just an observation or two. It's interesting to note some of the differences between a blog and a web site. I've kept an on-line food diary of sorts Notes from a Devon Kitchen since August 1997. This is an occasional record of not just what we eat on an everyday basis, but also about some of the more profoundly significant moments of my life. So in a sense, it's very much in the spirit of a weblog, even though it is actually a web site created long before weblogging became mainstream.

On the other hand, it's important to distinguish between the two. I freely acknowledge that creating html pages, indexing manually, creating the archive posts, etc, etc is a time consuming, sometimes tyrannical task. The new weblog mechanisms simplify such instant publishing greatly. The trade-off can be loss of degrees of control over the finished look, navigation, etc, depending on what weblog package is used.

An important further advantage that weblogs may have over web sites is the facility to interact with readers - and reader with blogger - through the addition of comments, a hugely significant feature. With a web page, though you can track your stats, you often never really know who has read your page - if anyone at all?! - unless they take the trouble to email. But the comments feature which almost all weblogs offer is such an easy and instant way to interact that invites the casual, the instant remark that can simply be dashed off far easier than the more personal one-to-one interaction that is involved with email. And such comments remain for others to peruse, adding the general give-and-take of electronic dialogue. This is great and my guess is that for other bloggers, receiving and exchanging comments is also one of the most deeply satisfying features.

For why else do any of us write except so that we are read? Yes yes I know, some of us - myself included - write for money, too. But above all we write because we want - we need - to be read. (If it were only ever just for money, there are certainly a whole lot more lucrative things we'd do instead...)

I am greatly heartened and encouraged by this thread and by the many wonderful food blogs that you are all creating - so much good writing and photography, so many personal passions and enthusiasms.

Happy blogging to all!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
Some things I believe about blogging: you need to establish a niche, otherwise you're just another person with a keyboard and some opinions. There are literally hundreds of food blogs online, and very few have substantial audiences. They vary in focus from fine dining to pastry baking. My blog about farms is unique, which helps me enormously.

The only thing that distinguishes a blog is its quality. Either a blogger better know how to write, or know how to take gorgeous photographs (and preferably both, honestly) or they are wasting everyone's time. The best and most popular blogs have established themselves as having unique content and a nice presentation. I see some of the photographs of baking projects (for example) and I just wilt.

Touregsand, if your husband is intending to blog to establish his own identity as a professional writer, and wants to protect his material from re-use before he's had a chance to sell it himself, I would suggest using a free blog site rather than eGullet, which has as part of its user agreement that any content you post—photos or writing—is also theirs to use as they wish. (Blogger.com and Blogspot.com are, I think, free. I use Typepad because it has some features I appreciate, not the least of which is the customizable design.)

If he just wants to share his stuff in an ongoing fashion for the fun of it, he could use eG, and it wouldn't necessarily get locked. The locked blogs are those who were officially tapped as a weekly blog. Other threads remain open, because they are not intended for a limited time. Examples of this kind of blog are Melissa McKinney's story about her Portland, Oregon, bakery (which made Food and Wine magazine this month, by the way) and Snowangel's thread about her cabin. I know there are others, but those are two that stand out to me as being long stories with big audiences.

Lastly, the point being made that having a blog demonstrates your ability to write is, of course, indisputable. As a professional copywriter and former newspaper columnist, I do not think that having a blog beats getting into print. Blogging is nice for me, as I can design the whole thing, and I do not have an Editor Scissorhands© botching my work and adding typos (e.g., "Earl Gray tea") to my writing.

Ooooh, baby, there's nothing like seeing your name in print on a by-line.

I did that with the Beautiful Algeria thread. Just to get some ideas out of my head.

The other threads you mention as sort of open ended blogs are really treated like threads. Aren't they? As in the thread doesn't 'belong' to the topic starter and the topic can be moved and renamed. It can also be edited by moderators. I'm asking because I'm wondering if there a category of open ended blog on egullet that I'm missing?

I'm not sharp with policies and user agreements.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The other threads you mention as sort of open ended blogs are really treated like threads. Aren't they? As in the thread doesn't 'belong' to the topic starter and the topic can be moved and renamed. It can also be edited by moderators. I'm asking because I'm wondering if there a category of open ended blog on egullet that I'm missing?

Mel's IS different. Ted, Wendy or Steve (as BP forum hosts)could jump in here, but my impression is it IS Mel's blog. She writes whatever happens, her ups and downs, whatever is on her mind(ofcourse, she has often said there's a lot she doesn't write :shock: ). It has followed her bakery from even before opening. But generally, she just writes, some people chime in, or reply, or ask her questions. When someone eats something of hers, they'll pop in and say how great it was. But overall, Mel is leading the thread in whatever direction she wants. Sometimes the thread goes off on a tangent, and ends up finally being started as it's own thread, only because it raises worthy issues (like interview attire). But Mel's blog stays intact. I don't believe there has been any real editing or 'moderating' really... but the forum hosts could shed light on that.

I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How stoked am I?

The food editor of a newspaper saw my blog and interviewed me about at length this week. It was a great interview, and she asked really good questions like these:

• Have you always been a food person? (Short answer: No.)

• What changed you? (Short answer: Maria, my neighbor when I was 19, who was such an amazing gardener and cook that she makes Martha look inept.)

• Which blogs do you like most, and why? (They're starred on my blog. Short answer: they have to have good photography to make my greatest hits. I'm shallow that way. I won't read or stay at a blog with ugly photographs.)

• What do you have in mind when you visit blogs? (Short answer: I just want to see what simpatico people are up to. I'll likely never meet Keiko, whose photographs are just gorgeous, but I love knowing that she devotes so much time to her beautiful creations: both cooking and the photographs.)

• How did you choose farms? (Duh.)

• How are the farmers responding to what you're doing? (They're throwing tomatoes at me...heh.)

I had little preparation in the questions, but I believe I did well being interviewed, because I think about my work--and the greater context of it--all the time. I don't know when the piece is coming out, or if I will be folded in with other "food" bloggers or not. (I still don't really think of myself as a "food blogger.")

Blogging is truly a devotion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The other threads you mention as sort of open ended blogs are really treated like threads. Aren't they? As in the thread doesn't 'belong' to the topic starter and the topic can be moved and renamed. It can also be edited by moderators. I'm asking because I'm wondering if there a category of open ended blog on egullet that I'm missing?

I'm not sharp with policies and user agreements.

At it's heart a blog is something of a monologue ("I talk, you listen"). We've carved out a niche where someone can take that kind of platform for a limited time period (the "weekly" Foodblogs), but overall this site isn't about hosting monologues.

People have used the term "blog" for threads elsewhere on eGullet, but in general we tend to discourage that word in thread titles, because of that aspect--that a "blog" tends to be an open-ended monologue by a specific person. Our base assumption here is that if someone makes a topic, that anyone who is qualified to comment on the topic can and should be addressing the subject matter.

Editing is not an issue. We don't edit user's posts. We do exert a level of control over topics as a whole, but us having that control is hardly a unique phenomenon in the world of Internet forum management.

Of course there are many instances where someone wants to tell a story. "This is how I went about buying a chef's knife" or "when I visited Algeria this is what I saw". But those aren't open ended affairs, so we don't really consider them all that blog-like. In theory the topics are still open to other people's comments and stories on the same subjects as well. Also, sometimes a topic on a subject can SEEM like a monologue if one person is doing the majority of the storytelling. Susan Fahning's cabin thread is a good example of this. Susan asked 'Am I the only "cabiner?"' right at the outset of her thread. Quite properly, she opened the floor to other people to discuss their own experiences. If it didn't happen? It's not on Susan's head, and any resemblace to a blog is simply because others didn't pick up the gaunlet tossed at them.

Blogging is a great phenomenon and a source of enrichment for the entire Internet. The fact that it's an easily available thing that almost anyone can construct on their own has only increased our sense that having a looser, more communal approach is the right thing here. We still tend to think people will want to comment here, because we've got a built-in audience--the flip side of having to respond to a community is HAVING the community around to read your words.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course there are many instances where someone wants to tell a story. "This is how I went about buying a chef's knife" or "when I visited Algeria this is what I saw". But those aren't open ended affairs, so we don't really consider them all that blog-like. In theory the topics are still open to other people's comments and stories on the same subjects as well. Also, sometimes a topic on a subject can SEEM like a monologue if one person is doing the majority of the storytelling. Susan Fahning's cabin thread is a good example of this. Susan asked 'Am I the only "cabiner?"' right at the outset of her thread. Quite properly, she opened the floor to other people to discuss their own experiences. If it didn't happen? It's not on Susan's head, and any resemblace to a blog is simply because others didn't pick up the gaunlet tossed at them.

I feel that tana butler's thread "Small Farms: Places of the Heart" was a thread intended to tell a story. A story about small farms that she had lovingly visited.

Her passionate, engaging style of writing makes me nostalgic even for the smell of cowshit. She takes me by the hand back to the landscape of my childhood.

My Beautiful Algeria thread is 6 pages long. I thank the members of egullet for letting me publicly meditate about a subject that means so much to me with support and encouragement. I really hope others here who want to share a story are given the same respect.

Thank you for clarifying this for me jhlurie.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Funny. I just started my blog last week, mostly as an online journal for my family and friends back East to keep track of me now that I'm living in California. I also want to use it to experiment with different writing styles...my new job requires me to write for a more rigid format, so in the blog I can make mistakes and be silly and have more of a voice. I'm also finding that it's good practice to have to think of headlines, openers, and closers for each entry. So for me it's a combination of community, freedom, and practice.

Amy

Amy Traverso

californiaeating.blogspot.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

After just starting my food blog, I've read your discussion and it's really got me thinking on why I had started it and what I want to achieve.

My first impulse was creating a space for me to write personal prose about my food adventures, in Catalan. I'm hooked on food literature (damn, I forgot my volume of Best Food writing'06 at my mother's) but, as a journalist -though currently working as a comic book editor- I know that food journalism is really small in Spain and probably off-limits for me. Besides, it's mainly based on restaurant reviews or interviews with great chefs, and it takes very little from newspaper space.

Spanish food journalists seem to often be detached from their own eating or cooking experience, probably as a result of editors guidelines and readers tastes. So, I'm not as much wanting to fill a market gap or expose my writing to prospective editors as trying to make myself write the food writing I love reading. And, yes, I expect to catch a few new readers along the way, as I suspect I'm not the only one who feels like this.

To me, my food blog is a very personal kind of writing, although I strive for quality. And it will give me a playground of sorts to delve into the food world.

Mar

Middlebrow Catalan gastronomy??????

http://baixagastronomia.blogspot.com/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Just my 2 cents:

I've had my food blog for... say, a year and a half now, and, although I'm a professional cook, not really a writer, it catapulted me into helping some friends launch a culinary magazine here in Chile (first issue is done and will come out within the next 30 days)

Also, a publisher from Spain contacted me to start a monthly one-page article.

So, what I'm trying to say is that your blog can be a showcase for your writing. I guess just don't have high expectations. Just do your thing and when people like it, great things could happen... maybe :raz:

Follow me @chefcgarcia

Fábula, my restaurant in Santiago, Chile

My Blog, en Español

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...