Metablogging: Julie and the Insular Food Blogs

If you’re looking for some mainstream press on Food Blogs, there’s a recent article in Salon with Julie Powell.

Who’s Julie Powell you ask? Some of you may remember her from her Julie/Julia blog, where she tasked herself with creating every recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It was a marginally successful blog, being one of the more popular blogs at the dawn of the explosion of the medium.

Some of you may remember her from her recent editorial in the New York Times, where she inferred that Whole Food Consumers were organic snobs who’d forgotten the lower class.

Still others of you may know her from her recently released book Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen.

In reading the article, two things become very apparent: First, Julie is certainly enjoying her new-found celebrity status. Second, she doesn’t seem to like the genre of blogs which she helped create. From the article:

I’m going to get in a lot of trouble, but the truth is, I actually find most food blogs really boring. I try to look at other people’s blogs and they have pretty pictures and they’re so proud — but really, I just don’t care. I don’t know anything about that person, and I don’t know why it’s important to them. Food in itself becomes just a mass of prejudices and snobbery and everyone looks like a prat when they write about food.

That sound you heard was Ms. Powell’s credibility with the current crop of Food Bloggers fizzling away. Not that she cares. After all, as her press packet clearly states, she had a six figure advance on the book and possibly a movie deal with Steve Zahn playing her love interest (tho’ she’d prefer Don Cheadle).

I’m truly not as bitter as I sound, as I feel that Julie can like or dislike whatever she wishes. It’s simply very clear that she doesn’t wish to speak for any other food blogger save herself. That’s certainly her perogative.

I’d rather focus on the question the interviewer stated to illicit the above response.

The food blogging community seems very insular. Are there any other blogs that you follow closely or admire?

I’ve read a few comments across the internet that are insulted by the term “insular”. The thinking is that Food Blogs are undeniably popular, so how can we be closed off and isolated at the same time? As a reality check, there are hundreds of food blogs out there, and it’s simply impossible for one food blogger to follow all of them on a regular basis. It’s difficult to be insular when fellow food bloggers can’t read 95% of the blogs that are out there.

This more than anything tells of the popularity of food blogs – the sheer number of them. How can foodblogs be insular when we have a community of 1000 blogs?

Which is why I take the term “insular” as a compliment. Even with the size of our community, we’ve created various memes and communal interactions that give the impression that we’re a closely knit community. We exchange e-mails with each other. Various food bloggers have dinner with each other. Considering how much we’ve grown since 2003, this is nothing short of amazing.

This is why I’m not so bothered by the term. We’ve created a community with a fair amount of interaction with one another. But at the same time, numbers show that our audience is more than “other food bloggers “. An actual audience is reading our sites. We have the best of both worlds.


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