A few years ago, specialty food magazines, celebrity cooking shows and coffee-table cookbooks began to proliferate. But it wasn't enough.
Internet-savvy food enthusiasts sought something more quirky or writerly or lavish or esoteric or weeknight-friendly or fill-in-the-blank.
(Dave Jonason For The Washington Post)
Enter the food blog, a form of online journal.
There is the Movable Feast (www.movable-feast.com), a chronicle that captures seconds in the life of an aspiring chef, from deveining shrimp at 8:20 a.m. to typing in an apartment-door code at 11:50 at night.
The Grocery List Collection (www.grocerylists.com) showcases images of 700 discarded grocery lists and related stories about . . . grocery lists. Arthur Hungry is the Web log name of a 20-year-old international relations student at Boston University who posts pictures of everything he eats (www.arthurhungry.com). Pinoy Cook (pinoycook.net) is a Filipino mom's collection of updated traditional recipes. And Dead Man Eating (deadmaneating. blogspot.com)records the last meals requested by prisoners on death row. (Fried chicken and steak predominate.)
The Food Section blog (www.thefoodsection.com) aspires to post "all the news that's fit to eat." Late February brought a riff on "Tangerine Dream," questioning the color ascribed to the fabric in the recent Central Park exhibit of "The Gates." Was saffron, selected by artists Christo and Jean Claude, more accurate than, say, clementine? Or persimmon?
A few days later, Vittles Vamp (www.vittlesvamp.com) featured "Art Lover Alert," depicting a close-up of cheddar cheese sandwich crackers balanced on end in Central Park with the "Gates" in the background.
There are even food blogs that essentially list others, such as Kiplog's FoodBlog (www.kiplog.com/food) and Food Porn Watch (foodpornwatch.arrr.net).
Blogs now cover a miscellany of culinary topics, sometimes only tangentially related to food. The only constant among the sites seems to be that they are increasing dramatically.
And people are reading. "Every single genre of blogs has increased at an almost alarming rate over the past several years," said Biz Stone, Blogger senior specialist at Google.
That includes food. Type "food" and "blog" into Google, and the hits exceed 8 million. The number of actual English-language food blogs is far lower. Paul McCann of Kiplog puts the estimate at about 600, but says it's increasing daily.
According to a Pew Internet & American Life Project published in 2004, 27 percent of American Internet users say they read blogs, an increase of 58 percent from the previous year. In the past year, several food bloggers have seen the number of daily visitors to their sites double or triple.
Along with the proliferation of food blogs comes a proliferation of food blog awards. This year the Bloggies -- an annual award given to publicly chosen Web logs -- introduced a food category. Bloggies categories are updated annually to reflect "how trends change in the blogging universe," says Nikolai Nolan, the University of Michigan senior who launched the awards in 2001.
In addition to their own category, food blogs number as nominees in several other Bloggies categories as well. The winners will be announced next week (2005.bloggies.com).