Friday, February 23, 2007

more thoughts on blogging

I can think of no two food blogs that are alike. Many have photos, some do not. There are those that are dedicated only to recipes or reviews of other peoples food. Others are more eclectic - roving through menus, philosophy, food gathering trips. Some discuss wine and other beverages, others are dedicated to a single theme. There are a few people in the industry who blog, but most of us are lay people when it comes to the worlds of cooking and the media.

What does distinguish our blogs from articles or old media generated blogs (you know the sort – a daily paper with a blogroll) is the writing. Perhaps there is a rawness to a blog post that a journalist could neither allow or replicate. I’m not saying we all have lousy spelling or punctuation, but the work doesn’t go past an editor and has the luxury of a certain freshness. Our posts are not put on ice or modified by a style censor or a lawyer, they are published in an instant. Thankfully we can re-edit later if it is really needed.

Not all of us are anonymous. But anonymity does allow the freedom to say exactly what we wish without fear of being personally ridiculed. That is not to say we are not sensitive to criticism, even hiding behind a handle. When I whipped up a little frenzy over a hyped new restaurant, I felt the biting sting of some commentors tails. They too have the choice of being anonymous and enjoy the freedom THAT gives. But the point is we are free to talk our mind, regardless of the consequences. What is more, we will never get banned from eating in a restaurant unlike some reviewers from other media.

Basically we are food writers, all driven by slightly different motivations. For me, beyond the love of food – I want to show that healthy eating is about simplicity and great flavours, beyond the mung bean kind of horrors that used to epitomise such diets. I want to inspire others to try something new, or expand their repetoire. Or at times, just to stop and think.

I have discovered a very selfish reason to blog my recipes as well. Being an intuitive cook, it has been very useful to actually document what I put in the pot because a month later I might forget it. I have surprised myself by the amount of times I have had to track back through my blog to find what the missing spice was or some ingredient that had slipped my mind when I wanted to replicate a dish. It has also provided feedback, other people’s inspiration to add a twist to a meal.

Most bloggers love feedback and live for comments. We can get a little lonely at times, tapping our culinary hearts out on a keyboard and finding no response. We can become a little obsessive about our site meters too, discovering not just how many people visit our blog but how they got there. Without my beloved statcounter I would have no idea that literally hundreds of people scattered throughout the world want to know how to make vegetarian gyoza, because there certainly isn’t any volume of comments to suggest how popular the recipe is. I have to admit to the vice of pride about this one. This is a recipe that I have developed on my own (after talking rather drunkenly to a chef and a cook at a Christmas party many years ago) and to find my own creation is not only popular but reproducible - is a buzz.

For me blogging about food is more than creating my own online personal recipe book. It gives me a forum to muse about many aspects of food culture, talk about philosophy, cookbooks, markets and relationships through food. Some of the most thoughtful feedback I have received recently was in response to a post about cooking with a partner. I’ve also used the blog as therapy after a stint caring and cooking for my elderly parents. I enjoy reading other bloggers tales of how they have responded to dealing with food allergies, how someone embraces ethical eating for the first time or shares an emotional journey after a health diagnosis that radically alters their relationship with food. This is not a chef writing gluten free recipes, but a person struggling with the fact that what they know as pizza will never be eaten again and how their life can open up rather than close down, as a result of it.

I’ve also had the vicarious enjoyment of watching the arrival of new babies through their blog writings, appreciating the unfolding of new relationships and even some of the sadder aspects of life. Bloggers don’t have to put on a brave face, unless they choose to, the reality adds a whole new dimension to the idea of comfort food.

Am I just a compulsive blogger, a frustrated writer, a want-to-be published author one day? Maybe, but the blog is a great place to enjoy the craft of writing without deadlines or expectations. A place where the inner foodie meets “The Artists Way”. Julia Cameron wrote “If you write, then you are a writer”. I’d add “If you blog about food, you are a food blogger - so welcome to the club”.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Brilynn said...

Well said.

5:27 am  
Blogger Truffle said...

great post :)

8:56 pm  
Anonymous kitchen hand said...

Some mainstream media food writers find food bloggers a threat. There are some very good blogs around.

10:44 am  

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