I think of Julie Powell’s 2002 blog The Julie/Julia Project as the original food blog, or at least the first blog I heard of that paired good writing with food. But Powell’s blog, about trying every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking over the course of a year, the blog that became a bestselling book and a major motion picture, was all words, no pictures. How 2002 was that?
By the time I decided, in 2009, to differentiate myself from fiction writers who were blogging about writing by starting a food blog called The Hungry Novelist, food porn photos had become essential for food bloggers. I’m talking about beautiful, impeccably styled photos, of beautiful, impeccably styled food, that attracted thousands of viewers daily to big-time, money-making, book-deal-getting food blogs like The Pioneer Woman (http://thepioneerwoman.com/coo...), and Smitten Kitchen (http://smittenkitchen.com/).
I forged ahead anyway with my point and shoot camera. I used my kitchen table as a background, and I employed mostly natural light. Some of my pics were not good, and some were not bad, considering my amateur setup. My posts were exercises in off-the-cuff writing-on-demand, and they usually made me laugh, though some of the connections I made between food and writing (my ostensible subjects) were tenuous. I’ve written about cooking at home, about restaurant meals I’ve eaten in Toronto and elsewhere (New York, London, Los Angeles, Venice, Haifa). I’ve written about Broadway shows I liked, music I listened to, and books I read, and about how to make the bruschetta that Amy Adams and Chris Messina eat in the movie Julie and Julia (the most popular post on my site).
I started out doing two or three posts a week, cut back to one a week, then one a month. In 2013, I published two posts the whole year. In 2014 so far, I’ve published four posts, and two of those were TV show recaps that have nothing to do with food.
As of today, five years after I started the blog, my cumulative total of page views stands at over 214,000, which is nothing compared to the viewer stats the big deal blogs get. Nothing worth selling advertising space for either, not when the going rate was $1 in payment per 1,000 views.
Meanwhile, blog pioneer Julie Powell has not published a blog post since 2010. Kristen den Hartog, a Toronto writer who started an author website blog around the same time I did, stopped blogging last year. And a Writers’ Union of Canada seminar on self-promotion held last year suggested that blogging is on its way out, and recommended authors look into Pinterest or Tumblr instead.
But I can’t shut down my food blog yet, not with my new novel being about food, not when I put a promise in the book that I would supply recipes for some of the dishes that appear in The Oakdale Dinner Club on my website. So I’ll blog on for a little longer. And maybe before I stop, I’ll hit 250,000 views. Woo-hoo!
The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.
The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.
Kim Moritsugu is the author of six novels to date, including Looks Perfect, nominated for the Toronto Book Award; The Glenwood Treasure, shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Best Crime Novel award; The Restoration of Emily, serialized on CBC Radio; and the just published comedy of suburban manners The Oakdale Dinner Club. She also leads a walking tour for Heritage Toronto and teaches creative writing through The Humber School for Writers.