At TRE, we do not consider blogging as different from writing. We think it is writing, in one of the forms writing can take.
Food blogging is one of the best ways to start food writing, however, and you can hone your skills as you go. You don’t have to be a writer with a deep background to start a blog. Your blog can serve as your developmental playground, while your writing grows in depth, authority, and readerly interest. Many bloggers have a goal of eventually publishing their work in print journals, on high profile sites, as print books, or as ebooks.
The Rambling Epicure platform showcases all types of food writing. We regularly publish outstanding writing from food bloggers. If you have a spectacular food blog post that you want still more people to see, feel free to send it our way.
Meanwhile, join our community. Our newsletter will come to you monthly, and every now and then you’ll get a tasty food quote.
Here are 10 easy steps to follow to start a food (or other) blog. Food blogging can be easy if you start out right.
Keep it simple at every step, because it won’t end up being simple no matter how hard you try to make it so.
Decide on your niche and your subject. Your subject should be specific and something you know about and feel comfortable writing about. If you’ve worked at a French bakery, perhaps you know a lot about baking French pastries. For example, I studied French cuisine, so I mainly write about French cuisine. It comes easy to me; it’s within my range of knowledge. If you want your readers to be passionate, you have to be passionate yourself. If you want them to build confidence in you, you have to write with authority.
Who is your audience? Are there enough people interested in your subject to justify all the hard work? Do you have an idea of who these people might be? Go on Amazon and see how many books are published on your subject. Do a few Internet searches to see if anyone else is covering the same topic.
Define a budget. Can you afford a developer? a webmaster? I recommend both, but if you’re computer literate, it’s possible to build a website on your own.
Choose a platform. The platform you choose has a lot to do with how computer literate you are. This is not a judgment. It’s just a factor that can determine how much unnecessary frustration you risk experiencing while running your blog. If you have limited experience using computers and you want a simple, carefree site, Tumblr, Typepad and Blogger are good choices. Another advantage is that they are free, but they have their limitations. If you know Microsoft Word, know how to use a stylesheet, and feel comfortable with computers, WordPress offers more flexibility in terms of layout and functionality. It is also free. None of these platforms requires knowledge of computer coding. Wix and Medium are also free, but have limitations. None of these platforms requires knowledge of code, with the exception of a few of the cutting-edge WordPress themes. (If you don’t know code, this is a question you should ask when choosing a theme.)
If you have a hefty budget, you can make life easier by hiring a website developer and a webmaster, so you wouldn’t need the free platforms. A developer can custom build a site in code to your specifications, giving you the possibility of a beautiful, unique look, but making it necessary to have a webmaster or the developer make changes and additions, which can be costly. Think this over before starting. It will not be a one-time expense; it will be an on-going one.
If you’re building a website on a free platform, choose a theme. A theme is what you will use as the basic layout or presentation of your site (a paid web developer would do all this in code). It is what you use when you don’t have a budget for a coded website and you plan to use the free platforms. Free or low-budget themes are available for all the free platforms listed above, and allow you to browse examples before choosing. Wordpress offers free themes here.
Choose a host. The “host” is the place where your website resides. They will offer various packages at various prices. The host provides a server on which to store your blog files, as well as other necessary technical services including technical support (ask for details about this before choosing: how much time, availability, etc.), email, domain name registration, FTP access, and various other services and tools. They will offer different bandwidths (250 GB is usually the least) and disk space (5 GB is usually a minimum). How much you need depends on how many images and articles you post, of course, but a basic package usually suffices at the outset. You can always upgrade later. Ask what their average uptime and downtime are; this is what determines part of the reliability of your website. Ask how often your blog will be backed up on their servers.
Choose a name and register it as a domain name (your host may offer this service). Otherwise, you can do this directly with the free online platforms or with an online domain registration company. This reserves the name for you and you only and prevents anyone else from using it.
Take a few hours to familiarize yourself with the technical aspects of creating blog posts. If you’re using WordPress, do some research on the plugins you can use to enhance site capability. The Beginner’s Guide for WordPress is an excellent resource.
Traditionally, the French eat white asparagus. It is only recently that they have acquired a taste for the green asparagus that comes from Spain and occasionally Italy. White asparagus is grown underground so that the chlorophyll so it won’t turn green.
This label dates from the fifties, and says “asparagus in stems” (I wonder how else asparagus can be), and categorizes them as “extra fat,” which the French consider the best. This particular brand is from Belgium.
Modern labels are similar.
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“EATING IS AN AGRICULTURAL ACT: I begin with the proposition that eating is an agricultural act. Eating ends the annual drama of the food economy that begins with planting and birth. Most eaters, however, are no longer aware that this is true. They think of food as an agricultural product, perhaps, but they do not think of themselves as participants in agriculture. They think of themselves as ‘consumers.’ If they think beyond that, they recognize that they are passive consumers. They buy what they want — or what they have been persuaded to want — within the limits of what they can get. They pay, mostly without protest, what they are charged. And they mostly ignore certain critical questions about the quality and the cost of what they are sold: How fresh is it? How pure or clean is it, how free of dangerous chemicals? How far was it transported, and what did transportation add to the cost? How much did manufacturing or packaging or advertising add to the cost? When the food product has been manufactured or ‘processed’ or ‘precooked,’ how has that affected its quality or price or nutritional value?”
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— Wendell Berry, The Pleasures of Eating
Migraine is a wine made from grapes grown around Auxerre in northern Burgundy.
“I tell you it will be more tolerable for the Fejee that salted down a lean missionary in his cellar against a coming famine; it will be more tolerable for that provident Fejee, I say, in the day of judgment, than for thee, civilized and enlightened gourmand, who nailest geese to the ground and feastest on their bloated livers in thy pate-de-foie-gras.”–Herman Melville, Moby Dick (1851)
In What to Eat in France: Foie Gras, we talked about how foie gras is made and the different legal classifications, which determine both the quality and price. Let’s move on to the fun part now. We’ve bought our high-quality foie gras and we want to eat it in the best way possible. Here are some ideas, both traditional and inventive.
Cooked Foie Gras
So you’ve bought a foie gras entier, a foie gras, or a bloc de foie gras. You’ll be eating pure or fairly pure foie gras, but how do you eat it and with what?
There is no one way to eat it. The Romans soaked it in honey and milk to fatten it still more before cooking. The first recipe on record comes from Apicius in his fourth century De re culinaria: Thinly slice the foie gras with a reed. Soak in garum. Crush some pepper, lovage and two bay leaves. Wrap in a caul. Grill and serve.
Today we eat it differently. Cold foie gras is most often eaten with something acidic to help digest the fat. This traditionally includes cold, sweet garnishes such as apple, rhubarb, fresh or dried figs, grapes, or pears, and toast, but contemporary chefs venture outside these limits, serving it with dried fruit and nuts and toasted brioche or raisin-fruit bread. More contemporary garnitures are onion jam or caramelized onions, Balsamic vinegar, port or Sauternes jelly, chutney, cassis berries, raspberries, blueberries or coarse sea salt.
Some people simply eat it with green salad, although I find that salad dressing deadens the natural depth of flavor. It’s also possible to eat it with cornichons and pickled onions. like one does with regular pâté, but once again, the vinegar is likely to overpower the delicate flavor.
Cooked foie gras should never be reheated. It should be eaten just colder than room temperature, so take it out of the refrigerator about 45 minutes before serving. Slice it with a knife while it is still cold. It is usually served with cold garnishes, most often as a starter.
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Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.
The French might claim pot-au-feu as their invention, but my guess is wherever there has been a pan or a pot, humans have made variations of it. Classical pot-au-feu, also known as petite marmite, is nothing more than beef and/or chicken and vegetables cooked in consommé with a marrow bone, with the chicken giblets thrown in at the end. There are regional variations, of course, some with veal or pork, and occasionally even mutton. Traditionally, carrots, turnips, leeks, pearl onions, celery and cabbage are used. These are added to the consommé along with the marrow bone and brought to a boil, then simmered gently for four hours.
The soup, vegetables and meat are then served in a bowl with toasted bread, the meat sometimes eaten on the side and sometimes in the bowl. Traditional garnishes include mustard, pickles and coarse salt. It is normally paired with red wine.
Does the fact that this was taken from a cruise ship make it any less beautiful?
Cruise ships in Venice have long been a source of complaint and worry. Venetians complain of too many tourists, making their city unliveable. Cruise ships are too large for the shallow waters, and contribute to the gradual rise in tide that is contributing to the erosion of the city’s foundations. Ships ruin the view and are an eyesore. Shall we continue?
In 2014, the Italian offices banned “skyscrapers” of the sea, i.e. cruise ships,Saint Mark’s basin and the Giudecca Canal Venice, proposing alternative routes. This ban was in application of regulations passed in 2013 saying no cruise ships over 96,000 tons were to be permitted entry in the Venice lagoon, with the goal of reducing all cruise ships over 40,000 tons by twenty percent in one year. The city’s regional court of appeal overturned this earlier this year, limiting the number of cruise ships over this weight limit to five per day.
Yes, Mark Wood took this photo from a cruise ship, and, with a good, expensive lens, one could take just as beautiful a photo from the San Giorgio Maggiore tower, although I haven’t yet seen one as good. Does that take away from the beauty of his photo?
It’s a never-ending war: Mac vs. PC. When it comes to computers, there is an age-old argument about which to buy. Computer hardware can make your life easier, or it can cause you to pull your hair out, and writers and bloggers don’t have the same requirements as someone who plays games or works mainly with images.
I’ve owned both Macs and PCs, both pre-Windows and with Windows*. In the old days, before it was possible to convert files from PC to Mac and vice-versa, I owned one of each at all times so that I could provide clients, printers and publishers with files compatible with their own systems. I’ve come to my conclusions through sweat and tears and white nights and almost missed deadlines.
If you’re not computer literate and don’t want to invest time in becoming so, buy a Mac. If you don’t want to spend hours dealing with software incompatibilities and glitches, buy a Mac.
The Mac operating system comes with the computer when it is purchased. It is seamless and less prone to viruses and attack. Macs come with an integrated operating system and integrated software that you are obliged to buy separately on a PC, including mail, photo and music handling and a word processor.
The Microsoft operating system, Windows, is sold separately, as is your chosen word processing software, which almost inevitably includes Microsoft Word. The price of PC hardware may be cheaper, but by the time you add on the extras, it often works out to more or less the same. In addition, PCs are better than in the old days when nothing was WYSIWIG, i.e. before they “imitated” the Mac operating system they call Windows, but the fact that many applications conflict with Windows can be the source of endless headaches.