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All You Can Eat

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July 28, 2010 at 1:24 PM

Tech savvy or troglodyte? I’ve come a long way, baby

To all the food bloggers, chef bloggers, food photographers and All You Can Eater commenters who make my work less like “work” and more like fun, I’ve just got to say: “Thanks for sharing!” And to others who pooh-pooh the concept of (over?) sharing online, I have this to say about that: I get it. You see, it wasn’t too long ago when I learned you can trust someone under 30 — and the tech-toys that come as naturally to them as singing “I’m Old Fashioned” did to Ella Fitzgerald.

My brave new food-focused world, always at my fingertips. That’s a good thing. And a bad thing — depending on who you’re talking to. What do you think?

Back then, Karen Gaudette was my next-desk neighbor at the Seattle Times and a fledgling food writer with a learner’s lust for her new beat. As her elder stateswoman, I’d regularly answer her queries regarding restaurants, cooking and obscure foodstuffs, and she’d reciprocate by answering my questions about cell phones, photo-sharing software and social media — among other things that cleanly divided us into two camps: tech-savvy 20-something reporter and food-focused troglodyte. I’d talk about strawberries. She’s talk about BlackBerrys, and our conversations regularly went like this:

“What’s that?” I’d ask, showing her an unidentified icon on my trusty Nokia. “Oh, that means you have 40 unread text messages.” “And what’s so great about Facebook?” I’d wonder. “Well, that’s how you keep in touch with your friends: that way, you always know what they’re up to!” (Funny, I thought that’s what my cell phone was for.) “Not to get too personal or anything,” I once asked her, “But when you and Jerry are in bed, reading, do you actually sit there, together, with your computers on your laps?” “Sure!” she said. “Why do you think they call them laptops?”

Well, who knew? Karen’s since gone on to strut her considerable stuff by writing about food and social-networking for PCC Natural Markets. Meanwhile I’ve turned into a blogging food reporter, now the proud owner of an iPhone (the better for Tweeting photos to Foodspotting) and a MacBook Pro (great for reading food blogs in bed, to say nothing of downloading movies on Netflix).

I bring this up because now that I’m a card-carrying convert, I still can’t believe how many of my friends and family members (I’m talking to you Aunt Rose!) own computers, but don’t use them to broaden their pleasure-reading horizons.

Call me narcissistic, but every time someone tells me, “Oh! I love your column and I read it every Wednesday!” (knowing they don’t go online to read my blog, which represents 10 times more toil, and far more food and restaurant info) it’s a bummer. But when I insist they give it a try and hear from them later — after they’ve gone online to check it out, I’m thrilled.

With one foot in the old camp and another in the new, I have a solid understanding of those who’ve found it a slow-go to the brave new world of reading and writing about food (among other interests) online. But now that I do so regularly from both sides of the technological divide, I’m especially cheered when I manage to coax someone along to the (mmwah-ha-ha!) Dark Side.

Today on KPLU’s Food for Thought with jazz DJ Dick Stein we discussed just that, chatting about a handful of food-related blogs that capture my fancy (including this one). And I got a great sense of satisfaction when my Fred Flintstonian radio-sidekick admitted that while he gets his kicks on Route 66, he’s now as addicted to food blogs as I am (we’re both fans of this one).

Along Route 66 you’ll find plenty of great road food. Don’t believe me? Go online and find out.

And my list of must-reads keeps growing. Case in point: a couple weeks ago I heard from chef Abby McCune whose short-lived Fremont restaurant, Ventana, is long gone. I reviewed Ventana more than a decade ago, and then she dropped off my radar. Until I read her new blog, The Back of the House, I figured Abby left town. Nope. She’s around, running a big Redmond restaurant kitchen. Abby’s intimate, sometimes bawdy, insider’s look into a world the typical diner doesn’t get to see, how she got there — and more importantly, why she stays there — was a fascination for me. As it will be for anyone who’s read and loved “Kitchen Confidential.”

So, how did Abby McCune end up at Julia Child’s 80th birthday bash? You can read all about it on her blog, The Back of the House.

I admit it. Staring into my computer screen for work, and for play, is addicting. It’s a time suck. But reading has always been that for me. I still delve into the printed page. Two newspapers drop on my doorstop daily. I continue to subscribe to many food magazines. I buy books, and the growing number of food-related websites notwithstanding, I still insist there’s nothing better than holding a great novel in your hand. Which you’d know if you’ve seen my new All You Can Eat fan page on Facebook.

So, in the name of sharing, tell me this: What are your favorite food blogs? Do you, like me, use Twitter as your own personal “clipping service”? Are food-photo websites your idea of armchair dining or time-sucking food pornography? Is Facebook friend — or foe? Is the world coming to an end because we’re all way too wired? My husband Mac thinks so, and I can’t blame him, given how much time I’ve been spending with my other Mac lately.

Comments | More in | Topics: Reading about eating

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