November 2006

The New Wave of Food Blogs

Writers find participation, community and fun online, while the outside world watches

By Dianne Jacob

Food bloggers get awfully testy when they hear the term “cheese sandwich blog.” It emerged a few years ago, when a writer in a national food magazine described food blogs as about as thrilling as “today I ate a cheese sandwich.” He has a point. Many bloggers still write mind-numbingly dull entries about their lives and food.

But many others write fascinating, award-winning material. Most of the bloggers don’t appear to be chefs. Some have readerships that magazines and newspapers could only dream about. Some have crossed into print, writing books and articles for magazines. One even has a movie contract. Some are especially good at having fun. At least two communities, in San Francisco and Paris, actually meet in person on occasion

As the medium grows, new food blogs arrive constantly. Today, some 1.2 million food blogs appear on the web, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. According to its survey, about 9 percent of today’s Internet users, mostly women, have created about 12 million blogs read by about 57 million people. The study estimates that 10 percent of all blogs focus on food.

That comes to 1.2 million food blogs, which sounds high. No on-line directory lists that many. Food Porn Watch, lists a long record of clickable food blog addresses. Chef’s Blog Directory,, also lists blogs by category.

No matter what the amount is, people take food blogs seriously. Agents and editors scan food blogs for the next book deal, freelance writer, or story idea. Public relations firms ask bloggers to write cookbook reviews and test recipes. Food & Wine’s website lists favorite posts of food bloggers on a weekly basis. Even established cookbook authors and print journalists have jumped in, looking for new audiences.

Food bloggers aren’t necessarily interested in the kind of writing that appears in newspapers, magazines, and cookbooks anyway. Most blogs break down into 3 main categories:

• Blogs on whatever passions come to mind, particularly cooking and kitchen experiments at home, eating at restaurants and reviewing dishes, travel adventures, shopping at markets, and sharing recipes. Amy Sherman’s blog, is a good example.
• Hyper-focused blogs such as Airline Meals, Vegan Lunch Box, and Slice, dedicated to the best New York pizza.
• Blogs meant to gather friends and create community, with no hidden agenda.

Bloggers just want to have fun

Writers in this last category use the Internet to communicate with each other, express their passions and have a good time. They quote each other, write on each other’s sites, hold cooking events and contests and give advice. Some focus on interactive writing and cooking, a form that would be impossible in traditional print media.

Is My Blog Burning?, for example, holds several themed cooking contests per month, hosted by a different blogger each time. In these challenges, food bloggers from around the world send in recipes. In the jelly event, bloggers from 12 countries made entries from agar-agar, pectin, and konnyaku.

The most creative entry according to host Elise of Simply Recipes was Belly Timber's

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