Blogging About Food

One of the reasons that I enjoy reading food blogs is that I like food. Not in just a casual sort of way, either. I am genuinely interested in it. I enjoy reading about and seeing other people’s creations and insights. I keep my blog for the same, simple reason, because I like to share with others. On my best days, I hope that I can provide interesting and useful information and on the worst… well, clearly no one aspires to the worst, but those days are testaments to the fact that recipes, technique and cooks, not to mention spell check, are not infallible. Things don’t taste great all the time, nor do they look pretty, but food is good, no matter whether it is a sliced up piece of fruit or a loaf of bread that you hand-ground the wheat to make.

One of the downsides to any community is that sometimes people feel excluded or pressured to conform or compete. I am not necessarily saying that this is true of food blogging, but I have little doubt that it may happen unintentionally on occasion to some. It may seem like everyone is eating sustainably grown, local, organic produce all the time, or that suddenly everyone else is cooking with ramps. And it is true that, as a whole, we cook new ingredients and explore new cuisines, but we also enjoy simple dishes and old favorites. Some people are cutting-edge chefs and some cook only for themselves. People bake, sauté, fry and grill all manner of meats, vegetables and sweets, for voracious appetites, both carnivorous and vegan. There is no one gold standard that we are striving to equal. And there shouldn’t be. I don’t think any less of myself when I read a recipe for some gorgeous dish I would never imagine I could attempt to make and neither should anyone else.

In my mind, the community is a spectacular one, with new and interesting people joining all the time. Even if you don’t actively blog, but are a reader, your input – whether you comment actively or read quietly from home – is valued and appreciated. The point is that the community is great because of the diversity of its members. We are not – certainly not I – all constantly hunting down the rarest cheeses or most singularly unusually vegetables within a 200 mile radius, nor do we dine at the French Laundry or Alinea every week. We are interested in these things because we are interested in food. But we are also interested in the coffee shop down the street (yes, even if it is a Starbucks), enjoying a candy bar and a dinner of leftovers.

You don’t have to be some sort of culinary revolutionary to enjoy food and you don’t have to be one to blog. If you are one, don’t fight it and share with us. If you aren’t, then share whatever you do. Whether you bake or cook, write or simply read, thank you.

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To acknowledge the work of food bloggers and the food blogging community, Kate, the Accidental Hedonist, is hosting the 2006 Food Blog Awards, with categories on everything from best individual post to best recipes to favorite overall. What Are you waiting for? Head over and nominate your favorites!

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22 comments

  1. Thank you Nic, for writing that – I so enjoy reading food blogs, but have been feeling wary of starting my own, precisely for the reasons you mention. It feels good to be appreciated as a reader, too!

  2. Extremely well put Nic, I feel just like that. :) From one food blogger to another – many hugs! And I do hope you win “Best Recipes” – at least I think you have the most inspiring ones for me. :)

  3. Thank you Nic for posting this, because this has been on my mind. But I am glad someone (you) posted it and you did a great job. :) Thank you.

    Anja,

    I hope you do start a blog is that is what you want to do, and don’t let anyone scare you away.

  4. Nic, very well stated- hear, hear!

  5. that is such a sweet piece of prose which refelects some of my own sentiments.

    I just wrote about best pizza for SFist for their awards. I hated doing it because I didn’t want to come out and say what was the absolute best pizza because there are so many different reasons I like different ones.

    So in the end, total wimp that I am, I just made up a load of awards for all the pizzas I like or know other people like. It was not brave of me, I know.

    I hate award season because if you don’t win it can be very disheartening and it can feel personal even if it isnt. It can make you feel that all your hard work is for nothing.

    I dont envy the judges. I mean, I find it hard, perhaps impossible, to choose my favourite in each category, so imagine everyone else has the same problem too.

  6. I have enjoyed so many of your recipes. I agree completely that food is something to enjoy for what it is and the experience of doing it. It requires nothing else to make it notable. .,.especially when it’s as well done as yours.

    Your blog reflects the same no nonsense, no pretensions good sense. I am happy to nominate it and you for the pleasure of reading and trying some of what you share.

    Meanwhile, I admire more than I can say the fact that you bake so regularly and find the time to journal it and photo it so beautifully. What discipline and generosity!

  7. The Cookbook Junkie

    Gosh I really felt as if you were talking directly to me. My cooking style is rather low-key compared to most other bloggers, so much so that I often feel out of place even commenting on other’s blogs.

    I make a lot of seemingly mundane dishes but they’re usually dishes I’ve forgotten about or never got around to trying in the first place. I blog mainly for my own entertainment but of course it’s always nice to have an audience.

    I also post (almost) all of my failures so that others may learn from my mistakes as well.

  8. nic, wow, you totally said it so well, and i’m so glad that you did. sometimes when i surf the food blogosphere i develop this major inferiority complex reading about these incredible creations that someone has baked or cooked, or re-created from a cookbook, and looking at some of the photography that’s absolutely breathtakingly professional and wonder – why the heck do i think i can have a food blog?

    but then i read something like what you’ve expressed, or i just remind myself what it’s really about – food and feelings and fun.

    thank you.

  9. bHear Hear… Well put. I think some people are just genuinly intense and it can rub others the wrong way.. thanks for writing the lovley piece above. Good show.

  10. Nic, I’ve often felt like the little kid wandering aimlessly through the adult’s food blog cocktail party for many of the reasons above. It seems like I know so little, but then posts like yours remind me that my writing has merit and a voice of its own, however young it may be :) Thanks!

  11. Beautiful post, Nic. You totally encapsulated how I feel about food blogging. Thank you. You really do have your pulse on the food blogging world.

  12. Well said Nic, thank you. It’s so easy to feel intimidated by some of the clearly extraordinary talent displayed on so many food blogs. I have to remind myself that my blog is about what I like to cook and to eat. Most of the time it’s pretty darn simple stuff. We do this because we love it. The good news is that there is room enough for all when it comes to the expression of the joy of food and cooking.

  13. Well said. I’m not sure who I’m gonna nominate then coz there are so many excellenet blogs (I don’t even have time to read them all.
    Your blog’s great, I’m an everyday reader (but don’t always leave comments).

  14. What a wonderful post. I’ve only started reading food blogs recently because I figured if I’m going to read blogs, I might as well read about topics in which I have a genuine interest. I’m learning so much from you and a few other food bloggers. It’s amazing what you attempt in your kitchen, and though I work in a fairly narrow field, I always find something that I hadn’t thought of before that feeds my work, my creativity.

  15. I just wanted to thank you all for your thoughtful comments. When I sat down to write this, I don’t quite know what my intentions were, but I am glad to hear that so many people have the same feelings.

  16. Very well said Nic! :)
    I’m glad to put into words what I have exactly in my head. It’s easy to get intimidated by all the great creations of our fellow food bloggers. But then I always remind myself that it’s diff strokes for diff folks. My blog should reflect who I am so I just have to be me. And if that ‘me’ means using chicken stock cube or frying eggs then so be it.

    At the same time, these great sophisticated food blogs teaches me a lot of things and gives me goals to aspire for. So having all kinds in foodblogosphere is great.

  17. Hi Nic,

    I felt very intimidated by the whole food blogging thing because there are so many fanastic ones out there. Now that I’ve started, I feel more comfortable and I have YOU to thank for it! You were the first person to reach out and let me know that you were around if I needed help. That really means a lot to me, and definitely helped me make the jump into food blogging! So thank you very much.

  18. Very well expressed sentiment Nic. I agree completely. Thank you for giving some perspective to all the food bloggers out there, me included :-)

  19. I agree with so much of what you wrote. I do sometimes feel there’s a competitive atmosphere, and that I have to enter all the events and post at least 5 times a week, and cary my baking etc.etc.etc. and what happens is that I start to lose interest in the whole thing because it feels like a chore. It’s good to be reminded of the simple nature of what we’re doing. We’re doing it for enjoyment, not to do one better than everyone else.
    Recently, I’ve found it really hard to keep up with reading everyone’s sites, and began to feel I had lost my place in the “community” – a silly way to feel, and it’s good to be reminded that it’s not the case! :-)

  20. Anyone wary of starting a food blog should not be afraid for those reasons, they should be afraid for how much time it will occupy! Be very afraid!

    Just kidding. I completely agree, anyone who loves to cook and eat shouldn’t be intimidated. If Thomas Keller and a grandmother you had both had a food blog, which one would you read and use more?

    Sure, we’d read Keller’s blog, but we’d use grandma’s everyday.

  21. Haha! Great point, Paul.

  22. Lovely, Nic, as usual. You know, I love how we all share ourselves in this community. But sometimes, there’s an inherent competition. And that I don’t like at all. The awards feel like a popularity contest, and I feel like I’m back in high school. That was no fun. Instead, the posts I love most are the ones that come straight from the heart of the cook. This is one.

    I love discovering simple foods I rarely cooked before, like roasted beets and popped amaranth. Just making my life better by really paying attention to it. That’s all that interests me.

    Thanks again for writing this.

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