Sunday, October 31, 2004

Writing about food

There is a wide world of food blogs out there. It's amazing how many people are setting down their thoughts about cooking or eating out at restaurants (or both). No matter how many you visit, there are more. Every time I look at a new one and check the links section, there are food blogs I didn't know existed. Granted, I'm a relatively new convert, but whenever I start feeling comfortable with my new route, something happens that expands the route. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I sample many food blogs periodically thanks to food porn watch's updates, but blogs that I find myself going back to again and again with particular pleasure are linked in my sidebar. Expect this list to grow.

I found this fascinating article via World On A Plate. It's nothing less than a history of food writing in the US. It looks at how food writing in newspapers and magazines has become less reporting and more advertising, selling the idea of a lifestyle to readers.

It's the kind of thing that inspires soul-searching. I've been a writer for a long time; I have the requisite pile of unfinished novels (another of which I'll start tomorrow for NaNoWriMo) and occasional published pieces in a handful of obscure magazines. I'm a newbie when it comes to blogging, though, and a newbie when it comes to writing about food. I still wrestle with how to paraphrase recipes that aren't my own. I have yet to find a consistent style that I think works well (though some posts are getting there - I like the donburi post). I haven't started obsessing about whether to install third-party comments or tracking statistics for this blog, because I just want to work out what I want to do, without worrying about what others think. I'd love to have regular readers, but I feel like I need to get this blog on solid footing so I'm confident in what I'm doing before alerting the media too much. That's why most of my friends don't know this blog exists yet.

So along comes this article, which seems like a challenge. Is writing about food just another solipsistic way of having one's own individual solution? Shouldn't I be out there trying to make the world a better place instead? There are so many problems, so many things that upset me and make me want to rant. Maybe I should pursue those things with the urgency I feel, rather than broadcasting what I made for dinner last night. Boiling the master sauce again doesn't do a damn thing for biodiversity, after all.

My short term answer (which seems like a wimp-out) is that I need to find ways to be more active for positive change but that this blog will still be a writer's exploration of a different kind of writing, and the blog that I wanted to read but couldn't find in the blogosphere.

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