More Unoriginal Content & Musings

January 7, 2012 · 10 comments

in atlanta, misc food

It’s been almost a month since I’ve had any worthy original content, and the new year has passed, which means we’ve once again arrived at that point where I wonder, do I continue with my blog?

It’s a question I’ve visited frequently over the last few years and half a million page views. When I first started doing this, I didn’t really fancy myself a dining authority, or a photo journalist, or even a decent cook. I just wanted to learn a bit more and take my hobby to the ethernet streets. Of course I started with the “hey, I made this dish” and “look at my breakfast” that plagued the blogs (and now Twitter), but once in a while I felt I had something worth while to say, an experience to offer, or a challenge to myself  I wanted to throw out there.

Being the first to a restaurant and offering up some snappy photos is the surefire way to get instant traffic and exposure on a blog – the stats don’t lie. Months in which I visit a brand new restaurant, visits skyrocket. December was my most trafficked month ever. This is misplaced success.

I’ve become lazy. I can keep a timeline of restaurant openings. My work schedule is generally flexible enough where I can skirt out for a meal on day one. And I often try to visit new restaurants at lunch, because natural light makes for great photos, and Google Analytics will tell you, that’s what people want. And yes, I sometimes decide where I’m going to sit based on the lighting. This is not satisfying.

My most visited post ever? Chili Sauces Explained: Sriracha, Sambal Oelek, and Chili Garlic Sauce.

I had a question, I researched it, and put up a post with crappy photos snagged from an image search. And people appreciate it, and disagree, and improve upon it, and it’s lasting.

I’m looking for inspiration. Stories that are interesting, not a chronology of what opened this week. One idea has been to focus not on restaurants, but on the very cool people that make them. Maybe dig into dishes – how they came to be, their muse and motivation. I have a few ideas about how/where restaurants source their product. The economics of the industry interests me.

On the cooking front I need some good ideas. My sous vide cooker is working now, so I’ll play with that. But how useful is that to a reader? I want to dig into Indian cuisine, which could be fun. My favorite part of when I went through Fuchsia Dunlop’s Sichuan cookbook was sourcing the ingredients, wandering around the dingy Dinho market in Chinatown, learning how to identify an English-less Shaoxing rice wine label.

If you aren’t already face down drooling in your keyboard by now, don’t worry, I’m not sure where else to go with this. But I guess questioning my motives and self criticism is a good thing. It’s what drives me.

There’s always room to be better. If I want this blog to be worth a damn, I need to get back on that path.

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  • Morrissl

    I love your blog. I’ve never been bored with it. The wine stuff I don’t really understand but I appreciate the effort you put into it. Do what you need to do EIA but wanted you to know if you stop, you’ll be greatly missed.

  • First, you’re blog is already worth a damn.  Those that love food (and all it’s related interests) generally look for ways to get better, so you’re not alone out there.  You have a shit ton of crazy good knowledge and I’ve gleaned from you as much as I can possibly remember.  I wouldn’t exactly discredit your recent posts either … putting out content is no easy task and your “voice” is worth having in whatever food anglation you take.

    My reviews certainly get the most attention on a day to day basis, but long term … my top 20 is filled with information posts (one on deconstructed food, mobile food apps, a guide to cuts of steak … etc…).  So don’t get stuck trying to out think this stuff.  One of my most popular things was that write up on Torrisi in NYC, I’m sure you can figure out why people picked that one up.

    You have authority because your lens (figuratively and literally) is legit, not because you happen to throw up words on a blog and take pretty pictures.  Your very nature to continue down a path is what makes your blog worthwhile. You’ll keep on keeping on, b/c that what you’ve always done.

  • Rick

    I’ve also enjoyed reading your blog and would definitely continue to read even if it stays exactly the same.  That said, I do agree with Morrissl in that I don’t get anything out of your wine postings.  I drink wine regularly (usually in the $20-30 bottle range), and I’ve been to Napa, Sonoma, and Willamette Valleys… but I pretty much glaze over when I read your wine postings since I’ve never heard of the wineries nor can I readily try or buy your recommendations.  I might be wrong about that, but that’s how it’s always seemed to me.

    Since you’re looking for ideas, I’d love to see a wine blog/feature that recommends wine that’s currently for sale in Atlanta at common places like Whole Foods, Publix, and Kroger.  For the most part, anything I buy locally is initially a stab in the dark (even with a wine mag rating), so it would be great if I had a trusted adviser.

  • Morrissl

    And furthermore, you have the luckiest wife in the world to have had that ultimate heaven honeymoon! I was drooling… well that’s gross.. I was envious of every post. We <3 u J.S.
    I can't go to SC without your advice…. 

  • Mrs. Jimmy S.

    You’re my favorite blogger!

  • ENB

    Now you know you are a chef. It gets really hard to be inspired when you do it day in and day out and can’t come up for air or inspiration. Take a little time and do something seemingly unrelated to food and I promise you will find inspiration. At a certain point in my career as a chef, I completely hated cookbooks. So I sought what they used to call at Brentano’s Books, “Food Philosophy.” The autobiographies, biographies, of all kinds of food related people. Even when I was political about food and sourcing, people like Jose Bove (sp?) the Frenchie that bulldozed the McDonalds I found fascinating and inspiring. This last trip to the High Museum was inspiring…they have the gorgeous pottery and silver collections as well as still lifes. I only glaze over when I see you do about ten extra steps following a recipe that we seasoned peeps will knock out much quicker.

  • Concerned Retweeter

    I don’t think there is enough Pappy Van Winkle content here.

  • Rick – I do appreciate the feedback. I’d like to write a bit more about wine, and this does help provide some direction. Those I’m less likely to write about some of the groceries stores, and would likely focus more on the small shops around town, such as the post I did on Le Caveau a few weeks back. Thanks!

  • Thank you for the comment below, and yes, the honeymoon was a trip to remember – stunning. I will try not to bore everyone with so much wine drivel!

  • Thanks Liz – this is some really great advice. Now this morning I’m searching for books along these lines! Regarding the last line of your comment – do you mean that I detail too many steps? I try to not do that as much as I used to (go check out the website A Pioneer Woman Cooks for mucho overkill) but will work on that some more. 

    That comment reminds me of a post I saw the other day on Ideas in Food. Talking about how cooks don’t even want to read recipes, as soon as they see a recipe title, they can already envision how it’s done, or at least, how they’d do it.

    As a pro, you MUST add that blog to your list. 

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