WHEN food blogging was new (about 15 minutes ago), it was fun to pore over the gastronomic musings at the Accidental Hedonist or I Was Just Really Very Hungry. In those days, reading about what someone ate for dinner or which food magazine they liked best was kind of amusing. But quicker than you could say blogosphere, the world of blogs-by-dedicated-foodies got crowded, repetitive, overly precious and just plain dull.
These days, hyper-focus is in; generalism is passe. A food blogger who wants to stand out from the rest of the pack has to be specialized. Really specialized. And more and more, specialization is taking the form of pinpoint devotion to an exhaustive coverage of a minusculely narrow food-related topic.
One specialized food blog attempts to cover every compelling bowl of the Vietnamese beef noodle soup pho in Southern California (though lately the author, who identifies himself only as "Diamond Dog," a male who lives in Orange County, has weighed in on phos in San Francisco, Seattle and Boston).
Another blog maps, with detailed reviews, pizza by the slice in Manhattan. There's even one that critiques every cake mix on the market.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday January 06, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 35 words Type of Material: Correction
Food blog -- In Wednesday's Food section, an article on food blogs incorrectly said "Diamond Dog" was the blogger who posts reviews at a site called Pho-king. The \o7pho blogger is Joshua Lurie-Terrell of Sacramento.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday January 11, 2006 Home Edition Food Part F Page 3 Features Desk 1 inches; 35 words Type of Material: Correction
Food blog -- In last week's section, an article on food blogs incorrectly said "Diamond Dog" was the blogger who posts reviews at a site called Pho-king. The \o7pho blogger is Joshua Lurie-Terrell of Sacramento.
Bacontarian (www.bacontarian.com) is a group blog about "baconism," the near-religious belief that bacon must be incorporated into every meal. It offers instructions, with photos, for how to cook a bacon-covered Thanksgiving turkey; gift ideas like bacon air freshener and bacon-shaped adhesive bandages; the story of how one of its authors, who identifies himself as Ethanz, made and served bacon tempura for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. After that entry, Ethanz concludes, "Mmm. Sacri-delicious."
Deep End Dining blogger Eddie Lin (www.deependdining.com) has committed himself to finding, eating, describing and photographing L.A.'s most challenging dishes. We find Lin, via photos and anecdotes, at various L.A. restaurants sampling German blood tongue, sea cucumber and duck fetus (a Filipino delicacy).
A video clip shows him eating still-writhing pieces of octopus. "If a picture of live, squirming tentacles is worth a thousand people feeling nauseous," he writes, "then a streaming video of the tentacles is worth a zillion vomitoriums."
Nor is there much dull material to wade through in Deep End Dining: It's what people in the blogosphere call a "slow blog," meaning that the blogger posts infrequently. In Lin's case, that means once or twice a month, whereas other bloggers typically update their sites a few times per week.
The anonymous blogger who calls herself the Wednesday Chef (wednesdaychef.typepad.com) founded her blog with the express mission of pitting the L.A. Times Food section against the New York Times Dining section. "This blog has been borne out of my spending too much time searching fruitlessly for reliable information on the recipes published each Wednesday in the food sections of the New York Times and the L. A. Times," she writes. "Do the recipes really work? Which food writer has the best ideas?"
We're sure we know the answers to these questions, but it's highly amusing to read about (and often see the step-by-step photos of) her attempts to re-create a clafouti with Concord grapes from Melissa Clark's New York Times story about Pierre Reboul, pastry chef at Thor in New York City, or Russ Parsons' garlicky braised cauliflower with capers. Too bad she strays from her mission, often giving us travelogue or a recipe from Martha Stewart, and thereby flirting dangerously with generalism.
Useful, serious and smart
OTHER specialized food blogs are designed to be more utilitarian. Burrito Eater (www.burritoeater.com) scrutinizes San Francisco's taquerias and burrito wagons, rating them on a 10-mustache scale. Blogger Charles Hodgkins, a geography student, dreamed up the site as a go-to guide for San Francisco's vast array of burrito stands and taquerias. Express Taqueria in the Tenderloin district earned an overall mustache rating (OMR) of 8.42 in a December post. Apparently Hodgkins arrived at that score by averaging the ratings for the nine-mustache super asada burrito he sampled in August and the 7.83-mustache super chicken mole burrito he reviewed in December.
Hodgkins writes with admirable authority: "Quite possibly the most walloping sucker-punch on Burritoeater record, this," he writes of the super asada. "Two kinds of cheese (Jack and cheddar) lined the inside layer.... Peas and carrot bits enlivened the Spanish rice, while the workmanlike refried beans also held down the fort."
"Diamond Dog," the Southern California blogger at Pho-king (www.hewnandhammered.com/pho), is just as serious; one Food section staffer who went to check out a Little Saigon spot he raved about was more than impressed.