Hamilton Spectator (Canada)

(No link to the article, as the Spectator charges to see it’s archive).

Mind-Bloggling

Awards recognize the abundance of excellant online food journals

by Lori Fazari

Food bloggers must have a hard time keeping it all straight.

First they have their own food blogs to maintain, posting messages online about what they cooked, where they ate, and how they liked it.

Then there are events drawing dozens of them together, virutally. Is My Blog Burning? (www.ismyblogburning.com) sees food bloggers post recipes based on a certain theme or ingredient on day each month.

Same thing with Sugar High Fridays, except with sweets. The Paper Chef gives food bloggers a weekend to create a dish with a randomly chosen set of ingredients.

As for the big news from the food blog front, last month the winners of the 2004 Food Blog Awards were announced, and a category for best food weblog was recently added to the 2005 Bloggies awards (www.2005.bloggies.com).

Next month the book Digital Dish will be released (to be available online at www.pressforchange.com), compiling more than a year’s worth of some of the best food writing found on blogs worldwide.

It’s a busy, busy time to be a food blogger.

Some people have contemplated why that is, why growing attention has recently been turned to this aspect of the blogging world. The explanation could simply be found in the numbers, with more bloggers in general signing on over the past year.

Political blogs have already carved their online perch, so perhaps it’s time for new topics to explore in wildly personal, sometimes obsessive, usually fascinating, detail.

More personal than magazines, more global than newspapers, food blogs serve up a daily diet of recipes and ingredients, restaurant reviews and food news commentary, food photographs from amateur to stunning, and, at their heart, a description of what people around the world are eating day in, day out.

It’s a bit like food porn in that way.

Weblogs have been around for years, although perhaps not people’s knowledge of them. Anyone with a computer and internet hookup can create one, basically a personal web page on which you write about whatever interests you or gather links and news items.

When Owen Linderholm asked food bloggers to contribute to a book compilation, he tapped 40 to 50 whose sites were active.

Now he keeps tabs on many more than that for future editions of the book, while filling the world in on what he’s cooking at www.tomatilla.com. He started his blog as a way to keep track of his endeavors in the kitchen. He’s also the blogger behind The Paper Chef competition.

“It’s a pretty vibrant community,” he said over the phone from Lafayette, Calif. “Some of them are incredibly good.”

That’s what Kate Hopkins set out to recognize when she thought up the Food Blog Awards in December. Within days she posted a call for nominations at her site, www.accidentalhedonist.com.

Over the next few weeks, she wittled the votes down to five nominess in each of 16 categories. She tabulated the roughly 8,000 votes and announced the winners last month.

Hopkins wanted to give exposure to the “many many great writers who I felt needed to be appreciated.”

“We’re reading your sites and we think what your doing is pretty good.”

The Seattle resident began her food blog a little over a year ago with the quest of learning about food, one ingredient at a time, and documenting the journey online.

“Next thing I knew, I had 800 people coming to my site,” she said. “Those are people who are interested in what you have to say and how you say it.”

The food blogging community seems a close-knit and friendly one, with new events popping up all of the time.

Just this past week, food bloggers selected their favourite food items for the newly created online Independant Food Festival Awards (see www.tasteeverything.org/festival for award winners).

The quality of postings and recipes on food blogs vary, naturally, since anyone can post without benefit of an editor. Blogs that attract the most attention and readership share three qualities- interesting topics, good writing and personality – says Jim Elve, a Waterford-based web designer who catalogues Canadian blogs on his site www.blogscanada.ca.

As much as they’re writing about themselves, food bloggers also spread an irrestible enthusiasm for cooking and eating fabulous food. They make you want to rush from the monitor and mouse to the spatula and stove.


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