More Blogging Advice

I hadn’t realized this until just now but if you Google “How To Start A Food Blog” the #1 result is the post I wrote on August 17, 2005 about, appropriately, how to start a food blog. Since more than a year has passed since that post, I have an archive in my brain of things I’d like to amend to it: further tips and pointers that I think could help food bloggers who want to get more out of their food blogging experience. So what follows is a sort of free-flowing supplement to the original essay: some of the points will be re-echoed, many points will be new–all of the points will be issues I feel strongly about.

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How I Don’t Get Bored

Lately, people have been asking me if I’m bored of my website or, more specifically, if it’s become a chore. Let’s face facts: when you’ve been writing about food for more than two years in a blog format, it becomes difficult to surprise yourself. It also becomes difficult to grow your audience beyond whatever audience you’ve achieved. When I started out I was a ball of needy energy: I wanted fame, glory, riches and free stuff. Now that I’ve gotten some of that, the question becomes: what are my blog goals? Where am I headed? How do I not get bored?

I’ll confess, I sometimes get bored with the routine I’ve adopted: take pictures of whatever I cook or eat out, load the pictures on to Flickr and somehow frame them into a narrative that describes–sometimes with a recipe–what it is I consumed. The excitement comes in figuring out new ways to frame the material. The post beneath this, for example, allowed me to feel creative while describing a French pizza with anchovies. Writing a play with a talking anchovy may not be the most professional way to tackle Pissaladiere, but it keeps it fun for me and hopefully for you. The trick is keeping things fresh. And after two years, that can be hard.

The one thing I miss about my blog is the sense of constant reinvention that was present in the early years. I did a Food Network Marathon, I started Carbohydrate Awareness Day, I did profiles of weird fruits I found at Whole Foods. These were the days of my reckless foodblogging youth; I hadn’t yet been absorbed by the larger foodblogging community (or, for that matter, the larger blogging community.) Things were more alive back then. I miss the electricity, man. It’s like we’re in a band that started out in punk clubs and now we’re playing Shea Stadium. We need to go back to our roots.

Ok, ok, I’m exaggerating. I still do weird stuff. I wrote a poem about peanut brittle that had the word “poo” in it and I still make movies and songs when I get the chance. I’m just sharing with you some of the “behind the scenes” thought processes that plague this foodblogger when he isn’t foodblogging. And I wanted to answer the person’s question who asked me if I get bored. Now you know the truth. And the truth stings like a viper. Now on with the routine… a grapfruit granita post… how can I make this interesting? [NOTE: Most likely, when you read this, the grapefruit granita post will appear above this. Keep in mind that this grapefruit granita post was created in reaction to this post so it should be filled with fun and charm. If it isn’t, you have permission to delete my blog from your blogroll.]

How To Throw An Elegant Party in Less Than 8 Hours

by Amateur Gourmet Staff Reporter Tallulah Backwash

Tallulah Backwash here with an instructive primer on party-throwing and deep deep reveling. For those of you who have read my other essays—“Therapeutic Bathing: How To Fight Loneliness With Suds” and “No, You Don’t Have To Love Your Baby”—you are probably already familiar with my sassy, irreverent style. So call out the sass police, Tallulah’s here and she’s ready to spread her legs. I mean information! ‘Scuse me while I shed my Freudian slip.

Parties aren’t parties without cleanliness. Which is why your first step should always be to drink half a pint of vodka and to call up your favorite male escort to come scrub away. And by “scrub away” I mean: do the nasty! Tallulah, you’re bad! Put those demons away! Quiet, witch, I’m writing here.

Here’s my favorite boy toy working up some elbow grease, de-furring the couch with a cat-hair-catching sponge:

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Grrowwwwwwwl! He can defur my couch any time! Tallulah, bite your tongue. Oh hush you gorilla.

Next step: have your boy go out grocery shopping. Tell him to grab one of everything, it’s easier that way. And tell him not to worry about paying. Our capitalistic society is framed on the illusion that paper bills have significance beyond their societally imposed meaning. Nonsense! I never pay for anything!

Here’s what our boy brought back:

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Then I set him to work. “Make some dip!” I said, cracking a whip.

He quickly set out to make the Barefoot Contessa’s “Sundried Tomato Dip.” Look, I’ll confess: the Contessa and I go way back. There were some food experiments in college, and I’ll never shake the memory of that giant tentacle and the Bechamel sauce. But her dips are fabulous, and I quickly instructed my boy to double the quantities because our guests would go mad for it.

Here are the tomatoes being sliced:

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Here’s everything in the food processor, pre-blending:

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And here’s the finished product:

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Scrumptious! The thing was more tasty than a night at the beach with Alec Baldwin. And I don’t even like Alec Baldwin!

Next I instructed the boy to conjure up some guacamole.

“And do it like a Mexican!” I told him. “Wear this sombrero!”

He obliged but wouldn’t let me take a picture.

“Come on now boy,” I urged.

“Not unless you let me wear it on my head,” he responded.

The help can be so difficult these days.

He also used a Contessa recipe for the guac and it turned out splendid. First he chopped the onions and a clove of garlic:

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Then he sliced open the Haas avacados:

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And then he mushed everything up in the bowl:

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Gorgeous! I asked him to slather it all over my body, but he refused, saying that it wasn’t in his contract. Who did he think he was, a lawyer?

Finally, he set about making nuts. And I know what you’re thinking: Tallulah, you’re choc full of sexual jokes today, will you make one about nuts too? No, dear reader, I won’t. There is a certain thing called tact, and I’ve got in spades. Besides: I prefer the word scrotum.

These nuts are a recipe from the Union Square Cafe Cookbook, and they are world famous. First our boy chopped some Rosemary:

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Then he added it to a bowl with cayenne pepper, kosher salt, and brown sugar:

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He added some melted butter, added the warm nuts straight from the oven and presto! I asked him to pour the nuts on the floor, so I could roll around on them, and again he refused. These boys can be so prude nowadays.

Then we set about arranging the food. Here’s a buffet with everything and a little something the boy brought involving a cupcake and a breast. I didn’t ask any questions, but naturally I was impressed:

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Here’s a closer look at the dip and chips:

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Here’s the guac on the table: (notice how we sliced the top of the bags off, to save on serving dishes):

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And last, of course, the drinks. Plenty of alcohol for everyone! That’s my motto. This is my own private table, the guests table was located elsewhere:

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At last, the guests began to arrive. Here are two strapping youngsters beholding our mighty counter of foodstuffs:

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Here are some guests enjoying the guacamole:

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(Although some nervy specimen of existence bothered to say: “This guacamole has no cilantro!” I immediately booted him from the party, ignoring his cries of “But mommy! Mommy! I’m only 3 and i’ts cold outside!”)

Here are party guests striking up a conversation:

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And here’s one party guest showing off his Janet Jackson Breast Cupcake pin (sent to us by a loyal reader):

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For entertainment, our guests watched Channel 21: the guard gate channel. It allows us to spy on who’s coming in at the callbox. How funny to laugh as others foible at the gate! I love mocking the powerless.

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Some more arrivals:

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A deep conversation about the moral implications of breast cupcakes:

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The dip is gone!

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Lauren shows off her bridesmaid dress bra stickies:

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Pancetta serves up some ice:

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Finally, the guests begin to leave. At this point, it is crucial that you get the names and numbers of all the attractive ones. The ugly ones you should hug firmly but then whisper: “A sexual encounter with you is most unlikely.”

At last, the party’s over. How was it? Splendid, naturally. Did I fix myself a nightcap? Honey, I fixed myself a nightbucket.

This is Tallulah Backwash wishing you and your family a blessed holiday season.