Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Here's Where I Spill My Guts

Maybe it’s because I’m advancing in years, but it seems to be taking a little longer than expected to get over this jetlag. You know it’s bad when you go to make yourself a cocktail and realize it’s barely 11 AM. I’d been up since 3 AM so it was feeling like the end of the day.

I'm still collecting my thoughts about the next post I plan to do on Italy, but I didn’t want to delay any longer saying thank you to gaga in the kitchen for bestowing me with a Blogging with a Purpose award. It always feels great to know others are interested in what you have to say, even when it’s riddled with misspellings and grammatical errors.

Now it’s my turn to recognize other bloggers that have inspired me…and that’s the hard part. I could choose any of the bloggers in my blogroll (which is by no means complete; I've just fallen behind in updating my template). So I've decided to break the rules and not choose, per se. If I may take the liberty of changing things up a little, I’d like to ask my friends, lurkers or anyone who may have accidently found this page, what is your purpose for blogging? Most bloggers have a little blurb explaining what their blog is about, but maybe it’s become more than you initially envisioned? Maybe you’ve never expressed concretely why you started blogging? Maybe you thought nobody cared? Well, now’s the time to get it out! I’d love to know what got you started and what keeps you going. Leave a comment with a link (even if it’s to a past post) and I promise to read it.

I’ve never actually written about why I started blogging. Some of it is because I thought it might be too personal to share with the entire Interwebs. Every time I threatened to do it, it was harder than I expected. Easier not to bother, so I didn’t…until now. Gaga gets another thank you for inspiring me to sit myself down and get it out.

When I started BHW, I wanted a way to share recipes with friends and family. Whenever I made Thai or Chinese dishes, people were asking me for the recipes. Or I’d hear people say they love to eat Thai food, but never make it at home. I wanted to do my part to demystify SE Asian food and show how easy it is to make.

Truth is, most of my friends and family don’t read this blog and that’s okay. I didn’t expect them to. I didn’t even tell them when I first started because this blogging stuff was a type of therapy for me and I wanted some anonymity (I know this contradicts what I just said above. What can I say? I'm complex). I needed a way to express myself to other people, while at the same time keeping it relatively private. I specifically chose to blog about food because no matter how stressful or hard life gets, food can always cheer me up (and my life was stressful at that time). I’m not just talking about eating food. I’m talking about the fond memories I have from my childhood, which always seem to be centered around food. Or the pride I feel when I remember my son telling his friend his mommy makes the best sticky rice in Portland. Or the time in college when my friend and I drank a six pack of Mexican chilli beer and couldn’t feel our lips for 3 days.

Blogging exercises the right side of my brain. Not only do I create the food, but I have to creatively write about it, which I find is immensely harder. For some people, writing seems to come easy. They (like her and her) captivate people with their stories and they have good grammar and spelling. For me, creative writing is just plain hard, but I’ve seen my writing improve and that is satisfying.

BHW has pointed me in other creative directions. I never knew I was interested in photography until I started paying attention to pictures on other blogs (like this one and this one) and taking pictures for my own blog. I’ll never be an Ansel Adams, but it’s fun to fiddle around with my camera and every once in a while I’ll take a shot worth framing. I’ve become more interested in where my food comes from and growing my own. I’m starting to dabble a little with charcuterie (after being inspired by this blog) and I want to get more into preserving food. I’ve even started to dabble a little more with baking (check out this blog and this blog), although I’m not sure everyone will agree this is a good thing. Hubby has diplomatically requested no more cookies, but Sonny loves helping me bake and I never do it without him. When he grows up to be a world-famous pastry chef, he can thank his mother.

Lastly, I like being part of the community. I don't think there are too many food blogs. There's always room for one more. See that Foodie Blogroll I have in my right sidebar? I do click on that just about everyday to check out the blogs on rotation. I try to leave comments so people know there is someone reading. I like participating in the different events and hopefully this summer I'll have more time for it!

Okay, now you know why I started and why I keep going. Now it’s your turn! Tell me why you blog!

16 comments:

Manggy said...

Hah, very few of my friends and virtually none of my family reads my blog. I wouldn't have it any other way. There's nothing damaging about what I write, but I would cringe till I self-destruct if they knew all the workings of my mind.
You'll notice that there's a gradual shift in focus from the start of my blog to what it is today (don't mind the sketches, they are backdated). My med school classmates always told me I was good at essays and observational comedy, and I thought I could make a blog my virtual refrigerator door to stick my sketches, essays, and designs. But when I became interested in intermediate pastry work (thanks in large part to the eGullet forums), the insides of the refrigerator began to sneak in, and pretty soon almost all of my visits would be because of the food. So now I've resorted to sneaking in everything else with a food post :) Ah, history!

Darlene said...

manggy, thanks for sharing! 2 common things I hear from other bloggers is that their closest buddies don't read their blogs (and they don't mind) and blogging has lead them into different directions. Both are true for me as well.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

A lot of what you wrote resonates with me. Cooking and writing about it has become a fun and creative hobby/outlet for me...plus, its led to meeting (well, not in real life) many an inspirational and creative friend. Surprisingly though, I do have some friends and family regularly reading my blog...I certainly don't mind. It makes it easier when they're coming over and I'm cooking--its like having a picture menu, lol

Darlene said...

Mike, my MIL reads my blog but my own mother doesn't and that's fine with me. She says it's like reading a part of my journal. Plus she gets to keep tabs on what I'm feeding her son and grandson :-)

Mandy said...

My blog was started naively as a way to keep friends and family updated of our life in the US. Like you, I later found out that nobody reads.Sigh...It then turned into a journal to record the new recipes I tried. Mostly because hubs couldn't remember what he had for dinner last night, and the blog with pictures help him to recall if he would like the same dish for dinner again. Then, it evolves into what it is today, with mostly baked goods, because I notice most readers seem to come to my blog for that! :)

Alex Rushmer said...

Thank you so much for your message. It warms the heart to know that people are reading. Your post is perfect - I had the same conversation with my girlfriend yesterday and the conclusion was that it doesn't really matter who reads it, the satisfaction comes from creating and crafting it. Best of luck.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

It's funny b/c even though I started my blog b/c I was always typing out recipes or passing along restaurant recommendations, I didn't actually send anyone I know to my blog for that info. My little secret as well. Then I mentioned it to a few of my cousins, others wanted to know, and now they get on my case if I haven't updated. So then I mentioned it to a few friends and same thing. And now, if we dine at a restaurant that I've already blogged about so I don't need to take photos, they still insist I take photos anyway.

And then after a while, typing up recipes or saying I ate this and that gets really boring. My friend pointed out that people visit my blog for me, so I should let more of my personality come through. So I did. And then a bit more. And then I get demands from readers for more family stories. Then the cultural stuff seems to resonate with a lot of people so there's more requests for that too.

Anyway, that's how my blog's progressed. I just realized after my recent restaurant post that that was only the 9th one I've done so far this year. Guess I've just been blogging about everything else.

I think after a while, especially when you get involved in the blogging community and make virtual friends, that you feel a little more comfortable getting personal. You're no longer typing to an unknown audience but to specific people. Or at least that's how I see it anyway.

In case you missed it, the links to why and how I started blogging and lots of other stuff are all under my About and FAQs link.

Darlene said...

Mandy, I think people come to your blog for the stories too. At least I do. For me the recipes are a bonus.

WC, I can see the progression in my writing too. You're right, it's so much more interesting to hear the story behind the food and to hear the cultural stuff. It's also easier for me to start writing when I have a story to go off.

Uffe said...

Darlene, I mainly read your blog for the stories too. It's interesting to read about what "old" friends from the US are doing. As for your recipes I have 2 problems:

a) Translating names of ingredients into Danish (ok, I guess this excuse no longer works, since Google recently launched Danish<->English translation).

b) Finding the ingredients in Kolding, Denmark (honestly, this is a problem).


Uffe

Darlene said...

Uffe, I'm glad you enjoy the stories. Since I'm so lazy and terrible at keeping in touch, it's a good way to do it. :-)

I understand about finding the ingredients. When I lived in Aarhus, it was hard to find ingredients as well. A little easier in Copenhagen because there was an Asian market on my way to work.

Thip said...

I like what you said about Sonny's future--make me smile. I can't wait to teach my niece how to bake too.

I started blogging in Thai a year ago while I was in pastry school. There were 2 reasons. First, I wanted to keep all information and instruction about what I learned at school. Second, I wanted to share with Thai people who want to learn how to bake.

Then I started blogging in English 4 months ago. The reason was for my portfolio. As the time pass by, I realized that I've got so much information from food blogs. :)

Jason said...

Isn’t it funny that we all post blogs for our friends and family and they are the one’s that don’t end up reading our blogs? I have dinner parties regularly (about once a week or so) with several of my friends and they always ask for recipes…now that I’ve been blogging for almost a year, I still get the same question…what is this recipe? My response now is, it’s posted on my food blog, and their response is, oh, what is the website again?
I have finally come to realize that I just enjoy writing down my recipes and actually use my food blog as my personal cook book for my own inspiration. Also, in the past I never wrote down recipes so now I can re-create that amazing dish that I made six months ago (and in the past couldn’t remember what ingredients I used!)
My biggest realization is that a lot of my friends DO read my blog and make my recipes, they just don’t leave any comments, or tell me they read my blog until I see them and they say “I made that recipe from your blog and my family absolutely loved it!” That’s what keeps me going with my blogging…secretly it is a cookbook in the works and an inspiration for anyone that reads it to try new things.

Darlene said...

Jason, after I wrote this post, a couple of my friends called me out and told me that, in fact, they did read my post. And my MIL does as well. Good to know. I guess our friends are just sneaky.

Thip, I was very excited to learn you were Thai and a baker, since there aren't very many around. I love that your creations show a lot of your background and I can totally identify with the more "exotic" flavors. Keep it up, sistah!

bb said...

Hey, I just read your post and didn't find any errors....where would be without spellcheck. Anyway, just wanted to let you know I appreciated your post, feel the same way about a lot of it, and best of all also live in Portland (in the wine biz at VINO in Sellwood...how convenient for my pleasurable pursuits!). Nice to know there are other food obsessed bloggers out there in our community with something to say. Found you through foodbuzz, too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts....and recipes!!

dp said...

bb, spell check doesn't help when you just use the wrong word altogether, like when I used desserts when it should have been desert. Oops!

glad you stopped by and VIVA PORTLAND!

The Merlin Menu said...

Coincidentally I just wrote about that very thing on MY blog. Here's the link....

http://themerlinmenu.blogspot.com/2008/07/snicker-doodle-muffins.html