Eat Drink Blog – Australia’s first food blogger conference

Along with Reem from I am obsessed with food … and another outspoken female from confessions of a food nazi, I’ll be talking at the upcoming Eat Drink Blog conference in Melbourne on “Why we blog” on March 21. I’ll just give you all a minute to get the “but you never blog, you lazy sod” jokes. It’s a small-ish event, with only a limited number of places due to the nice dinner and cocktails we’ll be getting (largely thanks to the connections and charm of Ed from Tomatom). But I’ll be in town for a day or two, so perhaps some Melbourne PDP writers and friends could meet up?

My abstract (which seems a very fancy name, but anyway) is:

There are a million reasons to start a blog, but most blogs are quickly discarded. What will keep you going? The answers are as various as the many genres of blog that exist, even within the food blogging world. Identifying what you want your blog to be helps you create a space that feels right for you and attracts the readers you want to engage with. The first step is identifying what you want to say and why you blog – whether it’s to stretch a writing muscle or show your photographic chops, to share your culinary skills or the latest news, or simply to become part of a community of like-minded food nerds.

And another outspoken female has also suggested that I should talk about group blogging, and the particular benefits of that approach. Part of the reason I wanted to be part of a group blog was to alleviate the pressure/guilt of not posting very frequently, but what I value about it most is the collegial conversations we have around here. It’s all I could have hoped for when entering the food blogging world.

I’ve been thinking too, about the power of images in blogging. There’s a photo competition and exhibition in concert with the conference, and I put a few photos in for the hell of it – there are almost 400 images in the competition flickr group. I’ve always resisted the desire to have very beautiful and styled looking photos – I’ve had to, as I don’t have the expertise, equipment or ability to keep the family waiting while I take pictures. Mostly though, I wanted to see people eating, and bring the world forced away from the food through bokeh and the like back into focus.

Yet having had a camera meltdown and not having replaced it yet (my work is casual, was not needed over the long uni break and my taste in cameras have become more expensive than it used to be) has really held me back. I don’t see why it should, as I’m certainly not a particularly good photographer, but I think that taking the pictures often sparks the thinking. It’s odd, because I am a writer not a photographer, but the interplay between illustrative and/or decorative images, texts and links has always seemed to me the greatest technical fun of blogging.

I’ve really wanted to post the abundance of my veggie garden and a few special dishes and meals. I’ve tweeted a couple, but you can see the quality of the images deteriorate before your eyes:

Both of these, by the way, were from Sean Moran’s Let it Simmer. The first a lake of chocolate mousse in the crater of a flourless chocolate cake (which is essentially a cooked mousse) and the second a custard tart with a finger lime glaze (and I added a layer of thinly sliced figs to the top of the tart, and some rose geranium leaves to the glaze). New camera soon, and then right back to it.

In the meantime, I’d be very interested to hear any thoughts on why food blogging is an activity worth doing, and what might be interesting to hear about.

18 comments ↓

#1 Dr Sister Outlaw on 09.03.10 at 8:57 pm

Oh noes, can’t you at least do a draft that we can bounce off?

But if not, my answer goes something like this … ‘I blog because Zoe made a food blog that she shared with us and invited us to join and that’s a space to talk about whatever yummy I made up that week and boast about my garden … but I don’t blog right now because I iz too busy and it’s cool that it’s not my blog but Zoe’s blog because I feel no pressure.’

My answer could also be ‘I blog because Zoe invited me on there so she could get my pudding recipe.’

#2 Zoe on 09.03.10 at 9:04 pm

‘I blog because Zoe invited me on there so she could get my pudding recipe.’

And the one we’re saving for Winter’s nestled in the fridge, bless.

#3 ampersand duck on 09.03.10 at 9:43 pm

Got no comments about food blogging other than to say ‘I wish someone very close to me would channel some energy in that direction” but just wanted really to say

OMG, ONYA!!!

#4 Mark on 09.03.10 at 10:01 pm

bring the world forced away from the food through bokeh and the like back into focus…

Yes, indeed! After all, food is for eating, and sharing with other people, rather than for turning into some photographic shrine.

It has been often commented on that as the popularity of food writing, recipe books and food ‘porn’ has increased at a time when people are feeling too time-stretched to do any actual cooking. It’s as if food voyeurism – made possible by food styling and stylised food photography – is to compensate for how inadequate many of us feel about how little time we (think we) have to cook a nutritious, delicious meal, or what we eat, or how our meals actually end up looking and tasting.

I feel different about participating (as a reader and commenter) in a blog conversation about food, such as yours, as I feel like I’m learning something, getting ideas, tips and recipes, sharing something of me in return, being inspired etc, and participating in an online conviviality – an online kitchen table, if you like.

Thank you. And yes, I know how you feel about the dodgy camera. I have the same issues!

#5 Anthony on 09.03.10 at 10:06 pm

Yeah, what Sista Outlaw said: I blog on PDP because Zoe asked me – even though I’d never blogged before. God, I’d probably even twitter if some one asked me, and I’m not sure I even know what twitter is. This is beginning to sound like the modern equivalent of Gore Vidal’s advice to never forgo a chance to either have sex or go on television.

In any case, a meet up of Melbourne contributors might be nice!

#6 Dr Sister Outlaw on 09.03.10 at 10:08 pm

I wish I could join you, and, like Duckie, wish to say OMG, good for you too! (my pud is in the cupboard).

#7 Zoe on 10.03.10 at 6:53 am

Anthony, you should join twitter ;)

Lying awake last night thinking about that coffee I shouldn’t have had at 3 pm, a few more things occurred -

  1. not boring your partner stupid with your obsessions
  2. the genuine, real-life friendships that blogging can lead to
  3. (as Mark said above) those little things you learn from another so much faster than a book
#8 bells on 10.03.10 at 7:42 am

Like all niche blogs, food blogging ranges from the sublime to the pointless. I’ve dabbled but prefer food blogging to be a sideline to my real love of knit blogging, which, like food blogging, has its up and downs.

I love anyone who loves their subject enough to devote whatever time they can spare to talking about it, writing about it, photographing it. Do it well, with something a little different to offer to separate yourself from the millions of others, and enjoy it and it’s bound to find an audience.

#9 kate on 10.03.10 at 8:58 pm

I like food blogging as a way of thinking critically and using what I fondly remember as my brain while at home with a little person. Having a whole gang of peeps online makes it easier to maintain the motivation to try new stuff. It helps with teh “Oh God let’s just have pasta” factor I’m sure most people come across when they cook every day.

Mostly the food blogging for me happens in a readerly and cookerly capacity and I never quite get around to the posting myself. I regularly write brilliant and insightful (and inciteful) posts in the shower though.

#10 dylwah on 11.03.10 at 3:40 pm

face to face with the virtual ones, hmmmm sounds like fun. that question “why we blog?” i think that it has something to do with interpretive dance. i know that i don’t blog, but i do do interpretive dance. what i love is perfection and pratfalls, and the whole word between. some food blogs only seem to show the things that work, that meet some standard that the blogger holds in their mind, i like that you don’t do that Zoe.

hope to see you when you come down.

#11 Lucy on 11.03.10 at 4:42 pm

Yet your pics always draw me in, Zoe. All of them do, here at PDP, ‘cos they’re real. Photos that look like wot one sees in the magazines piss me off, to be honest. Why copy, visually, what the magazines do? What’s the point? Blogging is a unique opportunity to develop your own look and feel so when I see shots that are over-styled and unimaginitive and scream Donna Hay…oy vey. Does my head in.

AOF and I have lots of conversations around why we blog – it’s good to remind yourself from time to time. I blog because, like ya say, my partner loves good food, but my obsession with fennel and the like border on weird even for him and, more importantly, it gives me a space in which to show my work. Like a journal/portfolio-thing.

Will go mad if you and I don’t finally meet in the flesh, m’dear. Will rearrange diary if need be.

Oh, and your quinces? That was a fabulous shot. An Iphone has lots of slightly wacky, interesting options for taking pics – just a thought. I’ve seen some interesting stuff on flickr. Just a thought.

#12 emica on 14.03.10 at 7:47 pm

I hesitate to say ‘I blog’, because it feels a bit presumptious when I’m a humble and sporadic contributor totally chuffed to join Zoe’s fantastic site.

I contribute to PDP because I have a need to write down my thoughts about recent food experiences or general musings on the whole range of issues that are related to food production and consumption. Otherwise, like others have said, I’d start boring my husband or having random conversations with old ladies on busses just to get the thoughts out there.

Zoe’s site provides a home to riff on a theme, ponder, get creative and, as she said, stretch the writing muscles that don’t get much of a work out writing policy recommendations papers in my job.

I’d never been convinced about the whole blogging/ forums thing till I found PDP. On non-food sites the debate seemed to degenerate from “this band/ politician/ etc is crap” to “everyone’s got a right to their own opinion”, which got very boring very fast and is a death sentence for interesting, robust debate. On other food blogs, it seemed more about the photos or recipe of the week, which is fine, but didn’t really give space to talking about the wider issues attached to food.

So I agree with others, that participating in blogging is about sharing a specialised interest with a group of likeminded individuals where I can be as super food nerdy as I like!

#13 We came. We saw. We listened. We ate. We Blogged. « Eat. Drink. Blog. ( The Australian food and drink bloggers' conference) on 23.03.10 at 12:27 pm

[...] the lowdown before and after the event. If I have missed your post, please tweet me @tummyrumbles. Progressive Dinner Party Jeroxie (addictive and consuming) confessions of a food nazi ravenous Travelling in Mary [...]

#14 Simon Food Favourites on 23.03.10 at 8:24 pm

I EAT THEREFORE I BLOG. blogging can be a very rewarding activity although can take up a lot of time if your very passionate about it. somewhat addictive. i used to have a life before blogging and now i think i spend too much time doing it ;-)

#15 Zoe on 23.03.10 at 10:14 pm

Yeah, Simon, my kids sometimes tell me I spend too much time at the computer.

#16 Gold Coast Food Bank on 28.03.10 at 11:21 am

Gold Coast Food Bank

Why do I Blog?…2 main reasons

1 – because the caliber of food based journalism here on the coast is very upsetting, don’t make me start on the journo (writing for the Bulletin) who tells me she is a vegan and how advertorial based most all the publications here are…that will soon be changing with a new magazine I’ll have a share in producing

2- as a cookery teacher it allows me to further develop my students way of looking at food of today, a portal for them to read my food based stories/recipes etc and also to jettison them to websites all over the world…in class there is only limited time, my students have welcomed it with such enthusiasm.

Your site is well good

#17 Zoe on 28.03.10 at 12:25 pm

Thanks, James. Shame we missed you at the conference.

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