Food bloggers chronicle their delicious obsessions
Page 2 of 2 -- Food blogging is so popular that this year the first annual ''Food Blog Awards" were launched by Kate Hopkins, who runs Accidental Hedonist from Seattle. ''Yes, a half-dozen or so food blogs have been recognized by some of the mainstream media," says Hopkins. ''But there are well over 100 food blogs out there, and plenty of good writing." So she wants her awards to draw attention to the more obscure backwaters of gastronomic cyberspace. Hopkins announced winners last week.
Chez Pim won for best restaurant reviews. But the big winner for ''Best Overall Blog" was Chocolate & Zucchini, the creation of a French woman, Clotilde Dusoulier. The site gets about 4,500 visits a day and recounts, in English, Dusoulier's daily Parisian food adventures, such as a 900-word ode to and instructions for a tarte tatin with salted butter caramel.
In 15 months, the blog has turned Dusoulier, a computer engineer, into a professional food writer, cooking instructor, restaurant consultant, and conference speaker. ''My ambition is to make a living from those food-related activities, something I had never considered before starting the blog," wrote Dusoulier, who now has a book deal with an American publisher.
Another oft-cited blog is Adam Roberts's the Amateur Gourmet, this year's ''humor" winner. It's easy to see why: Aside from the site's snappy prose, its ''Saturday Night Live"-worthy comedy sketch mpegs, such as ''Great Moments in Musical Theater Featuring Eggs" and ''Project Sourdough," are hilarious. ''Though I don't make money at all," Roberts remarks, ''I love knowing that there's an audience."
It was Roberts's Janet Jackson breast cupcake photo essay, featured on CNN, that brought his blog instant fame. He originally stumbled into blogging as a law student (he's since abandoned that for an MFA in dramatic writing at New York University). Cooking shows led him to his own kitchen experiments and eventually to Chowhound.com -- the low-tech, less snazzy grandfather of the whole online food phenomenon.
''We're iconoclasts, not followers of buzz," says Jim Leff, describing the community of Chowhounds he's helped nurture since 1997. He says his movement is seat-of-the-pants, compiling ''chowconnaissance" by eating its way through strange neighborhoods and never settling for anything ''less than supreme deliciousness, amen. (That's the chowhound prayer.)"
Chowhound is not technically a blog -- Leff claims he's never read one -- but a website akin to a community message board that covers the country and has regional subgroups. Desperate foodies type messages they're certain someone will answer. ''Pho!?," ''Best chicken salad?," ''Help! Quintessential Boston lunch," ''What's good in Dorchester?"
The camaraderie is normally kept strictly online, but on occasion the interpersonal contact boils over into the real world. Bloggers in Paris have met for potluck dinners, and in San Francisco they have congregated in Golden Gate Park for massive cook-offs and tastings.
On the Boston message board, on Jan. 4 at 17:31, a Chowhound named Burt asks, ''Anyone know of a really excellent Jewish rye bread resource on the North Shore?"
''I'm no rye bread expert but Karl's Sausage Kitchen (Rte 1 N, Saugus) has some dark rye that I enjoy," is the reply from ''Chris VR" at 19:01.
Forty-five minutes later, Karl S. interjects, ''That's Lithuanian-style dark rye, not like Jewish deli rye."
Techamuanvivit, the Chez Pim blogger, says, ''I could ask Clotilde [of Chocolate & Zucchini] or Pascale [of C'est moi qui l'ai fait] in Paris when I need to find out about something specific to French food. I could also ask Anthony in Vietnam about something there, or Jeanne from South Africa. Or they could ask me for something Thai. With the blogs, your foodie community could expand from a block party to cover pretty much the entire world."