Megnut started this whole thing. Damn. But I have to say it’s exciting to be here. So much activity here. The salon piece, I see has now generated 143 letters—some interesting ones even amongst all the petty bitching and nastiness. About nastiness—I’m not a big fan of it, though some bloggers can be funny in their nastiness, such as Regina Schrambling at gastropoda—I imagine from reading her blog that it might be kind of scary to actually be Regina Schrambling (unlike say being John Malkovich), but I can’t help checking in on Wednesdays for the dirt and bile (I figure I can always wash afterward). I don’t like that it’s so ultra-insider that she doesn’t name names or instead uses nicknames; anonymity and meanness always have an element of cowardice to them (mainly in the area of anonymous posting, which I loathe, but even though schrambling is not anonymous, using pseudonyms carries with it an element of the personal grudge vented in a public space). Schrambling was once snide about something I’d written for the Times (her former employer which she attacks venomously and regularly) and she was also kind enough to get a correction into the LATimes, for whom she writes, when she got a fact about one of my books wrong (even though the error was so minor this wasn’t necessary), which was uncommonly nice of her.
One of her favorite piñatas is Frank Bruni, whom she calls panchito. I’ve met Frank, think he’s very smart and good at what he does, and I like HIS blog. Blogs by people who write for a living can be but are not necessarily interesting simply because they’re pros. I like Bruni’s blog because I’m fascinated by his work and love the behind the scenes glimpses of his life as the times restaurant critic. There’s a news-worthiness tone and purpose to his posts, so I always feel grounded when I’m there. Same with kate at accidentalhedonist, though she’s not a professional food writer (as far as I know—she could well be—are you kate? I don’t know anything about you!)
But perhaps the most interesting pattern to watch in the food blogging world, for me, someone who’s been writing mainly books for the past decade, is the power of voice. This subject is discussed at tedious and unhelpful length by college writing profs in nasal monotone, but it is one a main reasons for any blog’s popularity–even those simply trafficking in cool stuff on the internet. For those blogs that are narrative based, voice is something that only comes from either writing a lot and/or having a very strong sense of self, and a self that is compulsively readable. Amateur gourmet is a great example of a blog that has a genuine and unique “voice.” Another example of a great voice is that of David Lebovitz. There are too many to mention. My biggest concern is that there will soon be too many to have the time to listen to.
And of course there’s the excellent Megnut! I love megnut for its curiosity and generosity and intelligence. Thank you, Meg for your invitation to blog on your site last summer, and thanks to those who’ve encouraged me to be here—I’m glad I am. At the very least, i’ll have an immediate place to vent about the appalling and embarrassing behavior of that Bourdain character.