October 25, 2010

Quick thoughts on Online Food Writing

Apricots in a White Dish, from Pilgrim's Breakfast

The James Beard Foundation recently announced that it would no longer distinguish between online and in print for its food writing awards. Last Friday, in the Wall Street Journal, Bruce Palling did a long piece on the ascending star of food blogs:
After existing for less than a decade, the impact of food blogs has finally been acknowledged by the mainstream food world. Starting this month, the New York-based James Beard Foundation awards, the "Oscars of the Food World," will no longer distinguish between online and print. This means that the top awards for restaurant reviewing or food writing are now open to bloggers. There are many elements that have brought about this shift of power, including the growth of the foodie community and social networking sites. In stark contrast to food guides that are only updated annually, there are bloggers so notoriously impatient that they Tweet about each and every course while they are still seated in the restaurant.
Because it was the Journal, the bloggers they profiled (a model, an investment banker, and two LSE undergrads) all are concerned with the best of the best--Michelin restaurants around the world.  And while I love reading about these places, I don't feel compelled to keep tabs on these blogs; what I find captivating are the blogs that show the personal side of food and cooking.

As an example, I've probably read three of four times the article by Molly Weizenber (Orangette) about oysters.  I linked to it a couple weeks ago, and refused to quote it, because I wanted you to read the whole thing.  Well, you probably didn't read it, so I'll quote some now:
I made everyone look away, and then I ate it. Only one, and it was tiny, but I ate it. I chewed and everything. I didn’t die. And when I swallowed, the flavor rang around my mouth the way the ringing of a bell ricochets inside a cathedral, now here, now there, and it did that for maybe ten seconds, now here, now there, before it dissipated. It tasted like seawater and melon and wet rocks. I didn’t even hate it. I almost liked it.

This here is what food writing is all about.  I know exactly what that's like.  In fact, I had the same feeling several weeks ago when I tried my first bocarones (an anchovy cured in light oil and lemon) (it tasted like the beach smells on a particularly fresh windy day) (i.e. heavenly).

So, I am dying to know: who are your favorite food writers and bloggers?  Tell!  Tell!

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Those of us in D.C. are incredibly blessed in our local Restaurant reviewer, Tom Sietsma (with The Washington Post).  Two Sundays ago he released his annual Fall Dining Guide, and I encourage everyone to check it out.  He finds the best of the high and the best of the low--hoity-toity spots that are worth checking out, all the most interesting faithful ethnic cuisine--and even a couple food trucks!  He returns several times to get a full picture of the place, and will re-vist old favorites after a couple years to make sure his review still stands (that's dedication!). Spots I am dying to check out: Estadido for Spanish goodies, Belgian tasties at Et Voila!, The Magestic in Old Town, and Taqueria La Placita in Hyattsville for some authentic and wonderful mexican food!

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