Monday, August 25, 2008

Food Blog Summit 2008

In spite of its lofty name, this summit consisted of just one current food blogger -- myself, along with bunch of in general really cool dudes, sitting around eating carne asada and drinking beer. (It's better this way, and not unlike the Supreme Council of Semitic Languages, which consisted of me, Rachel, Alon, and Vani getting drunk off happy hour wine and mini pizzas at Palomino and comparing curse words in Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian (which, yes, I realize is not Semitic, but rather Indo-european. Don't worry, it's ok.).)

Despite the lack of formalities though, it was a night that was very much about food, blogs, writing in general, not to mention culture and the virtues of our amazing Los Angeles, so obviously, the discourse of the evening was very close to my own heart. You see, my friend Noah is about to embark on a project that encompasses all of these topics, so he organized this summit to get the conversation going.

He's a writer who's turning some downtime into an opportunity to explore Los Angeles in a unique way: his plan is to, each day, go to one restaurant representing a different country, until he runs out. And then of course, he'll write about it. Simple concept, but potentially amazing. Not only will he eat really well and discover new facets of his city on a daily basis, he'll also share these experiences with a whole host of people on the web, exposing how awesome LA is in this particular way (he's already got 90 countries covered!), opening up the discussion to a potentially limitless crowd, and hopefully creating a forum where we can all learn something from each other.

It's interesting. Unlike my own little blog, which developed completely organically, out of a nebulous desire for a writing outlet and some sort of personal web presence (I cringe using buzzwords like that, but really, I did describe it once as a web presence. Ugh.), and eventually fell into exactly what it is now -- a strictly personal ode to cooking, food politics, and the unique pan-ethnic dining experience that LA offers --, Noah is taking a very thoughtful approach to designing his project. And for me, it was really thought-provoking to hear how much weight is put on trying to build a place where people can connect to the words on the page (er, screen), even if they are not food-obsessed. It's something I struggle with: As I write more -- in fact, by virtue of having this very blog, I have more opportunities to become an educated eater. And as I learn more, I want to share more of these sometimes esoteric details, and fear that as I do, I lose my own voice, which, if you read the earliest posts here, was rougher, more eclectic, self-deprecating, and, I think, relatable. Is my blog eating up its own identity?

franklin guards the tecate

Regardless of my own concerns, though, the night's conversation was great. A group of people who are as jazzed to talk about fresh salsa verde from CarnicerĂ­a Sanchez as they are about the funky Chinese breakfast crepes they learned about in Wednesday's LA Times (not to mention Miss Irene's crotchety unwillingness to look past the name of John Shook and Vinnie Dotolo's animal restaurant to all the delicious menu items showcasing in-season farmer's market fruits and vegetables)? How refreshing! Indulging in the debate of how best to represent massive food nations like Mexico or China with only a days' worth of eating? This is my kind of table talk.

So, I left the summit with the taste of Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza on my tongue (thanks Jason!) and lots of homework (ask Talal about Bahraini restaurants, and Ares about Dominican ones, Matt about Ghanaian ones, etc.). And a head full of thoughts on my little all kinds of yum. Nothing concrete just yet, but still, it's nice to have everything rustled every once in a while. I guess that's what food blog summits are for.

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