Buenos Aires – Very simply, I need a break. From eating. I know, for someone in my field that seems like heresy, but truthfully, we all need one from time to time. I’ve been out with visiting friends the last couple of days and nights eating up a storm, and just reached, well, a wall. And it’s a wall that rather than break through, I want to back carefully away from. It gives me a chance, too, to take a better look at some of what’s going on in the food world, the food blogging world, and do some other exploration. So, expect at least a few days of posts about things other than the next best or worst restaurant to eat at or not.
I don’t remember quite the sequence of how I got to the posting, but I just finished reading a fascinating piece by Malcolm Gladwell on Project Delta, a food technology attempt to create the perfect cookie. Ostensibly. In reality the piece is more a rather engaging (and somewhat longish article that appeared in The New Yorker back in September) look at project management and both the process of defining goals, but also in the end, in finding out that just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come… so to speak.
Michael Chu, over at Cooking for Engineers has an interesting guide to the world of caviar that he’s just posted. Good information. At the end of it though, my first thought was, “leftover caviar?” I really enjoy Michael’s site, as he brings an interesting analytical note, not surprising for an engineer, to the world of food. I have to admit, I liked his site more before he redesigned it to look pretty – it used to look almost like the equivalent of an engineer’s notepad, with sketches and diagrams and flowcharts for recipes (actually, he still uses the flowcharts, they just look prettier). He would also do exhaustive research into different techniques to try to see how they affected the outcome of a recipe – more recently he seems to just present his “best” result. I, for one, enjoyed reading about the investigative process more – it was what made his site stand out from being just another informational and recipe blog. I hope he moves his way back that direction…
Much as I’m not a fan of the movement over the last few years to change the physical structure of food by using various technological gimmicks, which to me turn dinner into some sort of culinary acrobatic exercise as opposed to just sitting down and enjoying, I find myself fascinated on nearly a daily basis by the goings on over at Ideas in Food, where two chefs stuck in the middle of the boonies (something about which they seem to gripe about more than celebrate – very strange given that they chose to be there), are constantly trying out anything and everything that pops to mind. While much of what they come up with strikes me as odd, and at times downright appalling, here and there they hit on some truly exciting ideas. And truthfully, that part of the world of experimentation is something that makes the other stuff worth it – I just wouldn’t want to be the one presenting the “other stuff” as dinner to customers. They have a great fan base of folks who travel from far and wide to try their creations, so who knows? (Then again, so do chefs at other restaurants of this sort that I’d prefer, after having tried, to avoid.)
For those who don’t spend a huge amount of time perusing food blogs, you might not know how competitive they get. It’s a real cutthroat world… The competitions are all in fun, but it amused me when I first found out how many different “blogging events” occur out there, with folks competing for best recipe of a certain type, or who can accessorize better while cooking, or any of a vast number of other contests. They seem limited only by the space of the internet and the wildness of folks’ imaginations, and since neither of those is particularly finite, one can only guess where they will lead. One of the main repositories of such events is the aptly named Is My Blog Burning?, where you can check in on the upcoming schedule for what have become some of the main food blogging events in the “blogosphere.”
There are other sites with more listings – Sticky Date, another calendar sort of site, and Tomatilla!, the host of the monthly Paper Chef competition (a sort of combination mystery basket of ingredients meets Iron Chef creativity), come to mind – and events out there that just sort of get “passed around” and never make it onto official schedules as well. Of the more prominent ones there is the IMBB – or Is My Blog Burning? event itself, where a monthly theme is announced and then the oven mitts come off as bloggers from around the world vie for the best interpretation of the them. WBW, or Wine Blogging Wednesday, a virtual wine tasting event that is less competitive, but gives folks a chance to explore a particular avenue in the world of wine and talk about it. SHF, Sugar High Friday is a spinoff of the IMBB, focusing on the world of the sweet. EOTEOME, for those who are, simply, fans of eggs, is the equivalent Eggs On Toast End Of Month Extravaganza. And, for the photographically inclined, there is the DMBLGIT, or, Does My Blog Look Good In This?, a monthly competition for best food photography. I’ve actually participated a couple of times in the last one, almost more to get some feedback on my photography, because the final commentary of the judges is often quite insightful into how the visual stimulates the appetite. Sadly, of course, I haven’t won (I’m not sure what I’d win other than more traffic to the blog, but why not?), but I shall probably keep submitting entries, despite the fact that I find that most of the winning entries are those that appear more “styled” than mine, which tend to be more snapshot-ish… These are, respectively, my August through current entries… I await the decision of the judges for December (the last photo)…
Grant, over at What’s Up Buenos Aires?, an online guide to what’s hip and happening on the local scene, has asked me to do a series of short food pieces that will appear in his blogged News section. I just posted my first piece, On Empanadas (this link goes to my website “reprint” of the piece, as the original will gradually scroll off of the News blog). Hmmm, maybe I should post that empanada picture (a collage I had fun making from many of my empanada pictures) here and submit it for January. What do you think?