Friday, January 25, 2008

Short and Spicy Blog Writing

Do you like reading food memoir-type blogs? You know, the kind that feature charming and moving episodes from the blogger’s life, followed up with companion recipes and food porn-y photos. I do, but I think the poignant story/recipe/glossy photo format can be overused and stilted. Reading these blogs sometimes feels like eating rich meal after rich meal, and feeling unpleasantly full. Bloggers aren’t to blame for sort of writing, though; it seems to be a trend in food journalism these days.

I myself often fall into the personal story/recipe rut. As I was re-reading my original fish chowder post-- it went “this is a wonderful soup to eat on a cold day and it reminds me of this story from my childhood blah blah blah”-- I realized I was bored. So I re-wrote the post to make it more amusing for myself and my readers (all five of you.) Granted, my pictures are about as far from glossy food porn as you can get, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be just like the cool kids. The first thing I tried to do when I laid my hands on my parents’ far nicer camera was to attempt to take arty close-ups set against a blurry background. Nobody bloggers like me imitate the big guns.

Still, there’s something to be said about blogs that just do recipes—no soul-searching, no memoirs, no food porn, just recipes, and lots of them. Anne's Food is a very charming example of such a blog; Simply Recipes is the best of the bunch. I’d also like to see more acidic, snappier food blog writing out there. Gastropoda is reliably curt and bitter but useful mostly to New Yorkers. I love The Hungry Tiger for its charming collection of vignettes that rarely exceed 200 words per post. (This blog is also my candidate for the next book deal.) The now-defunct Seasonal Cook demonstrates here and here how to write food memoirs that aren’t affected or dubiously upbeat. It’s all fine and good to eat rich, cheesy, starchy comfort food. But sometimes all you want is a spicy, citric starter.

5 comments:

adele said...

Hear, hear.

Judging by a quick sweep of the big-gun bloggers, you'd think that one of the requirements to become famous in the blogosphere is a parent/grandparent/teacher/mentor to provide inspiration, tried-and-true recipes, and lots of cutesy stories. I read Orangette occasionally, but I like the snarkier writers better.

Do you read ? The writer is very, very funny.

(And I loved your fish chowder post, if I haven't already mentioned it.)

Rachel said...

I personally like just recipes. A little talk, but not a person's life story. And I really hate the ones that randomly bold words.

Yulinka said...

Adele--I like the memoir format; I just think it can be overused or poorly written(especially by new or obscure bloggers who try to imitate the successful ones). The food blog world is a pretty warm and fuzzy place, in general. When bloggers don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all.

Thanks for the link to Food on Food--I loved the squash bowling post. Glad you liked the fish chowder write up!

Rachel--I love that you write about techniques and how-tos on your blogs. When I first started blogging I would randomly bold words because I was subconsciously imitating another blogger.

Ann said...

I really like narrative writing-- in blogs, novels, essays, etc. But it has to be good narrative. it has to really tell a story and (in the food blog world) it absolutely has to weave in the recipe or meal being posted about seamlessly.

Plain old recipes have their place too.

I think you achieve a nice balance here-- a narrative when it works and a quick introductory paragraph followed by an interesting recipe the rest of the time. :-)

Yulinka said...

Thanks, Ann! I try. :)

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