Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Thursday will be Cheese Sandwich Day

I know, I know. This is old news by now. I have to give you my two cents on Pete Wells' article in the March issue of Food and Wine. First of all, I love this magazine. I'm pissed that a writer in this magazine would act like a "know-it-all." I understand that he is trying to say that there are some really good food blogs out there but the way he said that was insulting to many good food blogs out there.

The whole point of blogging is to bring people together who share similar interests. It's a great place to express yourself freely (whether you have 2 readers or 200) and learn from others. To judge bloggers by calling them "boring" is beyond me. How could someone be so insulting by taking quotes out of context from blogs and bad mouth them? One example is a quote about a woman's pumpkin cookies being cakey and that she didn't realize that they are supposed to be cakey. What's wrong with her saying that? She's mearly letting everyone know what she learned that day. I do that all the time and I'm not ashamed. I like to talk through my mistakes or misunderstandings.

Afterall, blogs are basically online diaries. Most people are not professionals and are just learning as they go. Myself included. It's been a few years since I was in college and my writing skills have gone to crap. Starting a blog was my way of keep my brain active and finding an outlet for my food/cooking passion. I was fortunate enough to meet others who share my passion.

Thursday is going to be Cheese Sandwich Day for food bloggers to show their disdain regarding Wells' asinine comments. It's silly but a cute way to say "we don't care what you say" and to stand up for those blogs that were unfairly mocked.

I thought Noodlepie's post today was interesting. He wrote about how the article was good because Pete Well's was saying that there are good blogs out there. He was sticking up for the article but 1.) he received a great review in the article and 2.) he's a journalist himself so he's essentially a professional writing a blog because he writes for a living. It's not really fair to compare professionals to amateurs. It's okay to say "these are exceptional blogs" but I think it's completely unfair to make fun of amateur blogs.

On the other hand, I do understand the idea of the "cheese sandwich blog." It isn't interesting to read what someone ate for lunch if it's something uninteresting and basic. However, a "cheese sandwich" is not neccessarily a good example since there are gourmet cheese sandwiches. In Los Angeles there are several popular restaurants that serve gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.

I do wonder if my blog is considered a "cheese sandwich" blog. If Mr. Wells thinks my blog falls under that category I would be very annoyed. I just started this blog in December, I'm not a professional writer or chef, and I only know a little html. I'm hoping over the next year I can really make my site look professional and raise the stakes a bit in the level of difficulty and quality of the dishes I make. As far as restaurant reviews, those will still be few and far between while money is tight. When I do go to a place that's worth sharing I will still post about it. Knowing of delicious and affordable places to eat is priceless. I love reading about places to eat (especially affordable ones) from other blogs and really love the inspiration I get from bloggers' recipes.

Okay, that was more than two cents but I've said what I needed to say. One day I hope to be a good writer and chef and I have to start somewhere. Therefore, I will be making a cheese sandwich on Thursday and hope you will join me in making a statement about "cheese sandwich blogs."

Note: check out Kitchenmage's clever t-shirts for foodies and cheese sandwich lovers.


Gourmetish said...

I think the thing that makes blogs memorable and enjoyable to read is when a blogger's personality comes through in the writing. So a restaurant review or comment about what he/she ate for lunch CAN actually be interesting if written with humor and personal flair. That's not an easy thing to do (I'm definitely not there yet) but Wells should have made that point rather than making a generalization that most blogs are stupid and boring.

Kalyn said...

Great post. Can't wait to see your sandwich.

hereandthere123 said...


You're doing a fine job. You take good pictures and provide interesting descriptions about what you do.

Please don't immortalize Pete Wells any more than he has been by coining the term "cheese sandwich blog."

Let us not, as a community of food bloggers, stoop to categorizing ourselves in any unflattering way. We are doing what we enjoy, and if someone doesn't like it, that's their issue.

I love cheese sandwiches and the blogs that talk about them (and all the other stuff they talk about too).

All the best,

Gourmetish said...

Good point, Deb. He doesn't deserve to have his phrase coined. I was just annoyed that a writer in one of my favorite publications would write such a poorly written article. I'm over it now. Although I will still be eating a cheese sandwich tomorrow and telling you all about it! hehe. Thanks for your comment and compliments. Much appreciated.

Thanks, Kalyn. I was really pissed that he took your quote of of context because you have a fantastic blog and by quoting you he was implying that you have a "c-s blog" which is NOT TRUE. You have an intelligent, useful, and delightful blog. Keep up the good work!

honkman said...

Everybody has a different opinion of course but to answer your question about "One example is a quote about a woman's pumpkin cookies being cakey and that she didn't realize that they are supposed to be cakey. What's wrong with her saying that?" - In my opinion it is terrible boring. I read food blogs to read about food and not about every feeling or experience somebody has during his/her cooking experience.
And you are saying that most of the bloggers are not professionals. That is correct but that should exclude them for critizism about their writing abilities. If people are afarid of this they should write on the net but have their diary at home

Gourmetish said...

Did you mean to say "that should not exlude them for criticism about their writing abilities"? I completley disagree if you meant to say "not". MANY MANY people have websites for family and friends that are still available for public viewing but should not be judged as if they are professional publications. If you don't want to read bad blogs--don't read them. That's really all there is to it. Besides, why wouldn't you want to read about someone's personal experience with cooking? It's a way to learn from others. I don't know about you but I'm able to learn from others' mistakes and appreciate when people share their mistakes with me.

I think this is more of a debate of freedom of speech, the internet, and what makes a website interesting rather than Mr. Wells actual comment about blogs. I think this topic should probably be put to rest soon so that we can all get back to cooking. With that said, I'll be posting something soon.

honkman said...

"MANY MANY people have websites for family and friends that are still available for public viewing but should not be judged as if they are professional publications."

I disagree on that point. The moment you make something available to the public you have to accept that people can read your stuff and critize you. If you don't want to be critized, there are enough easy ways to communicate with other people without making it available to the public. If you don't want to be critized don't make your writings public.
And to answer the point of "why wouldn't you want to read about someone's personal experience with cooking". I like to read someone's personal experience with cooking but I often see after a while in some blogs that people start writing less and less about cooking but more about themself and the whole blog sometimes starts to become a substitute for their visit to their psychiatrist.
Overall I can't understand why so many bloggers don't show more self confidence in their abilities and stop whining about the F&W article.

Anonymous said...

Kady - I agree with you. Just because bloggers aren't professional, doesn't mean that they lack passion or interest. And, as we've recently learned, just because a writer is a professional doesn't mean that he (or she) understands food blogs. I think your blog is great, and even more importantly, I admire the honesty of it. Frankly, I don't care what Pete Wells thinks about my blog. But if Kalyn said that it had problems, that would carry alot of weight. In your case, it looks like people who actually write food blogs share my impression, and it's a good one of your blog.

Gourmetish said...

Brendon, thank you so much, I really appreciate the compliments. This is all new to me (blogging) and it's great not to be discouraged by the article but rather be encouraged by fellow foodies.

I know exactly what you mean about caring more about what peers think rather than "professionals". Don't you just love the phrase "foie gras on toast points"? It cracks me up because often times I'm bored by that kind of writing rather than honest-to-goodness everyday people who just LOVE food and cooking.

Btw, do you think PW has seen or heard of the Cheese Sandwich Controversy?

ejm said...

I hope you wrote a letter to the editors of "Food & Drink". I'm sure they'd very much like to hear that you love their magazine but are disappointed with Wells' article basically instructing food bloggers to cease, desist and leave the writing to the professionals.

I'm quite certain that my blog falls very neatly into Wells' "cheese sandwich" category. And you know what? I don't care.

However, if Wells had quoted something from my site, I would have been amazed and excited that he even found my blog. The only thing I would have been really hurt about was that he didn't name the source so his regular readers could take a look for themselves to see what he was droning on about.


Gourmetish said...

Elizabeth, Thanks for the comments. I probably should write a letter to the editor. I'm definitely going to think about it. However, I'm hoping PW has already read all of our posts and reconsidered his choice of words.

Gourmetish said...

I just read Eddie's post at Deep End Diving about the whole Cheese Sandwich controversy. He has a brilliant post about it. Here's one of my comments on his site:

One more point. Today I realized that I am interested in reading about a fancy gourmet meal that someone made for dinner last night but those type of blogs are not very useful for me. I'm young, poor and cannot afford to cook that way or eat out at extremely expensive restaurants. Most of my readers feel the same way. Therefore the whole phrase "cheese sandwich blogs" does not translate as "boring" because most of us need new ways to make a cheese sandwich since we don't have the money to go out and eat truffles and foie gras for dinner.

I do, however, agree with PW that we need to raise the stakes and make a statement. That's why your blog is so entertaining. You DEFINITELY raise the stakes and you have a central theme. I try to do that too but in a different way. My focus is on making the ordinary gourmetish and not settling for a bad meal while exploring new tastes and menus. I think PW meant to say that a blog should be useful but instead he implied (or bluntly stated) that the every-day (ex: "what I ate for lunch") is boring and automatically not useful. That is where I completely disagree.

Gourmetish said...

Elizabeth, I was just thinking that I probably SHOULDN'T write a letter to the editor because I'm ADD and my thoughts fly everywhere. I'm not sure I'm the best person to explain why PW wrote a poorly phrased article and why we[bloggers]disagree.