Blogs aplenty

Tens of thousands of Web sites offer recipes, expert advice

Posted: July 05, 2007

IS THERE A LINK between the hegemony of Starbucks, the melting of the polar ice cap, and the proliferation of the blogosphere, that vast Internet stew of advice, opinion, venom, reverie, hot air?

Right now, proving that idle time is endless and hope simmers eternal, there are an estimated 71 million bloggers in the world - untold thousands launched daily - which gives new meaning to the threat of global warming.

The most popular English-language blog (Japanese is reportedly the most prevalent blog language) is Engadget, a product-advice blog for all things electronic and stymieing. Engadget, a multi-author site crammed with revenue-generating ads, gobbles up page views by "the tens of millions" per month.

In the blogosphere, where words rival pixels, anyone can be an author. Or a diarist. Or a political pundit.

Or, to the task at hand, a cook.

"Food blogs [are] one area that is really growing," according to Ted Demopoulos, owner of Demopoulos Associates in Durham, N.H. He's a business consultant and the author of "Blogging for Business."

Demopoulos, who supplied the blog stats above, grazes on the daily developments and offerings in the blogosphere like some guys scarf the $9.95 all-you-can-eat buffet. There are upward of 48,000 food bloggers in the United States, he said. "Food blogs cover the whole gamut, from reviews of four-star restaurants to a blog called McChronicles, which is devoted to all things McDonald's."

And the patrons of all these blogs?

"People who are looking for ideas," Demopoulos said. "People who are looking for recipes."

Cate O'Malley is owner-editor of the Well Fed Network, a compilation of blogs on food and wine. Asked why food blogs are popular, she replied via e-mail, "It gives the public direct contact with the person behind the blog. Oftentimes, I'll get questions on specific recipes, usually when people are in the middle of making them! This direct line is something that cookbooks can't offer."

The recipe for a successful food blog is exactly that: recipes. Lots of recipes. Plus, melt-in-your mouth photography, a warm, personal "voice," and site accessibility. It also doesn't hurt to have a cute name, such as Diary of a Food Whore, Is My Blog Burning, or Pie Is the New Toast - all gourmet bloggers.

Two reigning food bloggers are 101 Cookbooks, by San Francisco author Heidi Swanson, and Chocolate and Zucchini, by Clotilde Dusoulier, a Parisian who cherry-picks the markets of Montmartre. Dusoulier, 27, is the hottest food blogger going. In a recent review of her newly published cookbook, "Chocolate and Zucchini" (Broadway Books, $18.95), the New York Times called Dusoulier "the Parisian friend we all wish we had."

Computer companionability is also a factor in good food blogs, and, like a Grand Marnier souffle, it's no easy trick for the amateur to pull off. One tasty site, Yogurtland (www.yogurtland.com), is written by Fethiye Akbulut Miller, a 34-year-old software engineer at Intel who is a native of Turkey. Her blog, written in English and Turkish, is both a paean to Turkish cuisine and a side dish on Western assimilation.

"I wanted to share all things that I have learned here," said Akbulut Miller, whose site attracts 1,000 English readers a day, 2,500 Turkish.

Another zesty ethnic-food blog is Chucrute com Salsicha (www. chucrutecomsalsicha.co), which is written in Portuguese by Fernanda Guimaraes Rosa, 45, a native of Brazil who is a Web developer at the University of California at Davis.

Rosa said her site gets 1,300 visits a day, mostly from Brazil and Portugal. Chucrute com Salsicha in Portuguese means "sauer-kraut and sausage," which, curiously enough, was a favorite dish made by Rosa's mother back in Brazil.

The impetus of many food blogs was first a request, then a repository, of favorite family recipes.

Elise Bauer, 46, and author of Simply Recipes (www.elise.com/ recipes), is a Sacramento, Calif., native with an MBA from Stanford. She found herself in San Francisco some years back as a hard-driving professional woman who dined out most nights and hungered for her mother's home cooking.

"I didn't know the first thing about cooking the food I grew up loving," Bauer recalled.

In 2003, she started a Web site. It began as an index-card file of her mother's recipes. Both her parents, Alice and Thomas Bauer, who live in Carmichael, Calif., are superb cooks. From there, the site slowly grew and the catalog of recipes expanded.

Today, Simply Recipes has about 600 recipes in its database. It attracts upward of 1 million visits a month. It was named best blog overall this year by the Well Fed Network, and, in 2006, Time magazine included Simply Recipes in a story on "50 coolest Web sites."

Simply Recipes also carries advertising. Bauer calls her blog a "profitable hobby."

"I'm enjoying what I'm doing," said Bauer, who works for a Bay Area management company but now lives in Sacramento. "But I'm still such a beginner when it comes to cooking. I have so much to learn." *

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