Food isn't just about consuming calories (though heaven knows I do plenty of that) if it were we would never have evolved beyond hunting and gathering and onto the nirvana that is pizza. Yes, food is just as much a sensory experience as listening to a symphony or staring at a VanGogh--and July's Write-Away Contest guest judge understands this.
" . . . food is more than sustenance; it’s a social activity. Food is bound up with so many emotions and memories. Cooking a meal isn’t just about putting ingredients together and serving it on a plate, it’s about expressing our affection for those around us . . . a way of sharing my family’s heritage and traditions with others that transcends ethnicity or gender or age."
But before I get ahead of myself talking about food, I should talk about Susan whom I found at Food Blogga through my first try at Stumbleupon and she opened my eyes to the world of "Foodies" or those who appreciate the satisfaction of the taste buds as much as the filling of bellies. I loved her blog enough to go through each of the blogs on her blogroll because, hey, if Susan said it was worth reading it must be great and I haven't been disappointed.
Susan's writing, recipes and photos have background to them. I don't just mean a physical background but you can sense in her blogs posts that she could say much more but is instead giving you a finished product that has melded many media into a pleasing whole--rather like reducing a sauce, simmering components down to their essence to leave the palate guessing at the intricacies of ingredients.
So starting with the subject of photographs I asked her if she had any tips for amateur food photographers like myself. Living in California, she uses her yard as her studio and says, "I find that natural lighting is much better than indoor lighting. Having just moved to a new place, however, I am trying to learn some new techniques. Working indoors requires using more props and having more technical skill, which I need to acquire. I like to keep things simple: I use plain white or solid colored plates and minimal props." And she's right, I too have learned that summer means better lighting and better lighting means better pictures. Here's a link to her post on broccoli rabe as an example of some of her pictures.
But besides her skillful pictures she writes about food and family and how the two come together at the table. Did she have any formal training in either writing or cooking I asked? Turns out she's a fellow English major who went on to teach high school English for a few years but beyond that nothing to explain her ability to write so well about the food she eats. Well, nothing except her Italian, East Coast upbringing which brings a hearty flavor to her words. Read, for example, What Threat? I Made You a Ricotta Pie or Grandfathers and Grapefruits or "It's Fri-taaa-taa!" and you'll see what I mean (and I never told her this but the post inspired me to make a ricotta pie from her recipe. Tasty).
Though she is relatively new to blogging (Food Blogga began in January 2007) I appreciate Susan's skills enough to ask her if she had any advice for beginning bloggers out there.
"Identify your skills and interests and focus on them in your blog. I love writing stories and I prefer cooking to baking. So that’s what I blog about. You can’t be everything to everyone, so find your niche. Most importantly, put forth a quality product each time you post . . . editing and proofreading your posts before publishing them. I think readers appreciate blogs that are well written and edited . . ."
Maybe that's why I've appreciated reading Food Blogga these past six months--well written stories about food. If only she could figure out a way to include samples with her posts the blog would be completely perfect.
Join me August 3rd for next month's Write-Away Contest topic and guest judge.
Congratulations to Kathy who was this week's Saturday Giveaway winner. She's won the Mint Workshop zippered pouch--thanks to all who visited and entered. I appreciate all the nice comments left in the entry forms, I wish I could respond to each personally, and even if I can't hand out bags to everyone I wanted to at least leave you with my thanks for being so kind.
Technorati tags: interviews, cooking, foodies, Write-Away Contest