No Cheese, Thank You, Please

I was going to blog about a cheese sandwich as a means by which to humorously flip the bird at Peter Wells’ opinion on most of the food bloggers in the world, save the seven he praised in his article in the March 2006 Food & Wine. (Okay, if you want to get the subtleties of this post, click on the link and read his article, please. Otherwise, you are going to miss some of what I am talking about.)

But then, yesterday, I got too into cooking some Indian dishes I had not done before (sabz kofta, and mattar paneer–and yes, I will post about those in the next few days), so I forgot that yesterday was Cheese Sandwich Day.

So, I have no cheese to give my readers. Sorry. That is life.

But, I do have a few words on the matter of Wells’ article and his opinions.

First, I respect the fact that he has his opinion, just as I have mine. The beauty of the free press and the Internet is that we can all state our opinions freely, without fear of government reprisal (or at least, not too much fear), though we all have to understand that not everyone is going to agree with us all of the time. In fact, the stronger the opinion, the less likely we are to find those who agree with us.

In looking back at the article, I think Wells meant no malice in his words. I think he meant to point out good blogs to the readers of F&W, but it was the way he went about it that was so offensive and wrong-headed, and that is where he upset people.

I have two main quibbles with the column in question.

One, is that in order to prove his point about how badly some blogs are written and how boring they are, he took quotes out of context from various blogs, presenting them as examples of lame writing.

This is a lazy rhetorical tactic, and is, in itself, an example of bad writing. I know several editors who would mercilessly tear to pieces any argument constructed on the basis of out-of-context quotes. And rightly so.

The fact is, I could go through a bunch of Peter Wells’ writing and pull out sentences or phrases that are the epitome of lame, boring, pedantic, crap writing. I could do it with any writer, because anyone can do it with any writing. Writing style is not distilled into one single random sentence, nor is voice or passion or wit. These qualities of good writing are found in the way in which sentences are strung together into a whole essay, article, poem, play, book or speech.

Sure there are stand-out sentences that drip with style, that beg to be read aloud, that burn the brain like sips of brandy on the back of the throat.

But no writer’s work is made up soley of sentences like that.

Not Peter Wells’, not the bloggers’ he picked on, not mine, not M.F. K. Fisher’s, not anybody’s.

That is the first thing that still sticks in my craw over that article, and in large part, it sticks there because Wells is a much better writer than that. I’ve read his stuff. He’s good. But this piece just sounds tossed off and badly done.

The second thing that still cheeses me off is this statement from Wells: “First, a good blog needs to communicate passion, and a really good blog will make the reader feel passionate as well. This should be easy when the subject is food, but it does rule out cheese sandwiches. Listen up, bloggers: Nobody cares what you had for lunch today! (Emphasis mine.)

Okay, here’s the deal: that statement is just not true.

A look at any food blogger’s stats, like say, Kirk’s at Mmm-yoso! will put the lie to that. Kirk eats lunch a lot, and he talks about it all the time. He posts pictures of his lunches and dinners, at home and out, every day.

And guess what, Mr. Wells?

People read it. Every day. And comment on it. A lot.

Why?

Because people like Kirk.

He’s funny, he’s personable, and he’s real. And people like that about him. They can identify with him.

Not everyone who reads food blogs is a food blogger, so not only were food bloggers insulted, but so were readers of food blogs.

This is where I think he went awry–and this is where I think a lot of professional food writers for large newspapers and glossy magazines go wrong: they are writing for a particular audience that values particular things, and if one is not part of that audience, then one is not valued.

Food is universal, people. It is not “owned” by the gourmets, the foodies and the snobs of the world. Everybody eats, and apparently, lots of everybodies want to know what everybody else is eating.

Readers derive vicarious pleasure by knowing what Clotilde is cooking in Paris, what Chubby Hubby has going in Singapore, and what Josh is eating in Hong Kong.

This should come as no surprise to magazine writers like Wells; after all, he works for a magazine which is considered a “food and lifestyle” magazine. The magazines are not only about food, but are about selling lifestyles, images to their readers. A lot of their advertising revenue comes from luxury items, and are called “aspirational advertising” by the ad execs. Wells should know all about vicarious living through reading; his magazine caters to that wish all the time.

So do some blogs.

But for every blog that does that, there are blogs that cater to our very human desire to share our every day food with others. And even those bloggers who live in “glamorous” places, are mostly writing about their own, very real, very normal lives. It just so happens that to some, where they live is very exciting, because those folks don’t live there, and they feel as if their lives are very “common.”

But how common is common, really?

I never thought anyone would want to read what I have to say. I’m a hillbilly from West Virginia, for goodness sake: who wants to hear about what I do in my kitchen, when they could peek in on Paris, Delhi or London? I live in a small town in Ohio, and am about as common as common can be: I have a lot of cats, I have a sixteen year old kid and I read a lot. So what?

Well, apparently, “common” writing is still good writing, and we common folk are still pretty interesting to a bunch of other folk.

Besides, I would like to remind Wells, and the editors of the glossies who look down on “the common folk” that Food & Wine, Gourmet and Bon Appetit are not the food magazines with the highest circulation in the US.

The magazine with the highest circulation is Taste of Home, which consists primarily of recipes sent in by readers–home cooks from across the country. It accepts no advertising, because it doesn’t need to–it is completely reader-supported. It is a magazine built upon readers sharing information, much the same way food bloggers share information back and forth with their readers.

And its circulation figures blow the “big” food and lifestyle magazines, all of whom are ad-supported, out of the water.

What does this say?

Well, it tells me that there is a significant portion of food lovers in this country who might not care for opinions like Mr. Wells’ nor do they seem to care about what the publishing world’s arbiters of taste have to say about food.

They don’t care about lifestyles or “aspirational advertising.”

They just care about food that is good, and how to make it.

Some folks who read food blogs are like that too.

Some of us care about different things than Wells.

And that is okay–there is room enough in the world for us all.

33 Comments

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  1. Lovely. Even more, I hope yours is the last (worth waiting for and worthy) word. It’s time to move on …

    Comment by Alanna — February 17, 2006 #

  2. I found the statement that nobody cares what bloggers had for lunch to be ridiculous, given that two paragraphs up he fawns over a blogger for writing on precisely that! Ah, irony.

    Comment by Sternel — February 17, 2006 #

  3. Thank you for writing this. I think the point about Taste of Home is especially interesting.

    Comment by Hannah — February 17, 2006 #

  4. Barbara,

    A great job and hitting the nail on the head for sure. I had no idea Taste of Home was so widely circulated. It really puts the whole issue into perspective.

    Now, let’s hope all us common folk can get back to enjoying what makes us happiest, blogging about food!

    Comment by Rose — February 17, 2006 #

  5. Dear Mr. Wells: Pointless snark = cheese sandwich times seven. And by the way, the right cheese on the right bread prepared the right way is both interesting and delicious.

    (I just discovered your blog, by the way, and am enjoying it very much. Thanks for the Taste of Home link.)

    Comment by Violet — February 17, 2006 #

  6. I’ll admit not to reading Mr. Wells’s articles, but I’m not sure I need to. I read your counter-arguements to his posits, and think to myself “Yes.” Just that: “Yes.”

    Although the one, high-scale dining experience I’ve had in my life was truly…well, I will not get into rated-X land, but ‘food_porn’ really does cover it well :)…I don’t cook like that. I cook like you do, or, you cook the way I would if I was a serious about it as you are.

    I can *connect* to you as a food blogger. You share with your audience food that is grounded in your real life, everyday food, that is still more than what most of us think of as ‘everyday’. You’re a teacher and use your own personal experience and education to de-mystify the complexities of curry or why pork and greens really do belong together. The fact that you’re not limited to a specific food genre is part of the appeal.

    At the risk of possibly offending you, I enjoy reading your blog for similar reasons as to why I’m a big “Good Eats” fan. You don’t just throw up a recipe. You explain why cooking or baking things a certain way produce certain results, giving us the tools to explore our cooking as creatively as you do.

    Keep writing it, and I’ll keep reading it. :)

    Comment by Alix — February 17, 2006 #

  7. Barbara,

    I have a question. Is Ricotta cheese same as the Indian Paneer ?

    Alix,

    I am also a ‘Good Eats’ fan. Before Alton Brown, my pancakes were like dosas…now I can make soft & light & fluffy blueberry pancakes.

    Comment by Sonali — February 17, 2006 #

  8. I remember reading an article one time where the author talked about having to attend dinner meetings, eating “fancy” food with strangers but when it came to comfort food such as bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwiches she would only share these across a table with people she truly cared about. She wanted the comfort of friendship, conversation and food to be honest, down to earth and real. Whether writing about a cheese sandwich, a perfect pear or or how to get spices to blend together in wonderful harmony allows all of us readers the opportunity to share in that experience. It is comforting in this day in age of all that is disturbing in the news to be able to log onto a computer and read that somewhere in the world a person sat down in peace to a cheese sandwich. Better still is if it is shared.

    Comment by Maureen — February 17, 2006 #

  9. Thank you, Alanna. I was just not in the frame of mind to write this last night. I waited until today, until I could see the issue with new eyes.

    Sternel–the irony–well, yes. The irony is magnificent. Which is another reason why I think that the article is not up to his usual standard. He makes and argument and then shoots himself in the foot with it. Not a good way of convincing your audience of anything.

    Hannah–the Taste of Home thing came to me this morning, when I was posting a comment on Belly Timber. It is common knowledge in the publishing industry that Taste of Home has a huge circulation and has for years–but most of the foodie mag buying public doesn’t know that. We just see it and probably move along. But it is a very popular magazine, and with good reason–it is marketed as a magazine that builds relationships and community among cooks.

    Which sounds kind of familiar, really….

    Rose–as I said–it is common knowledge in the magazine industry–not so much anywhere else. Writing and editing for the Paper Palate had opened my eyes to a lot of things about the magazine industry that I was dimly aware of before, but now–they are part of my world.

    And yeah–I want to go back to talking about food, you know? I have a bunch of Indian recipes to talk about!

    Violet–I am glad to have you here–welcome! Comment as often as you like–we are friendly here.

    And you are right–cheese sandwiches can be divine. I was going to make brie on pain de campagne from the local artisan bakery, with some duxelle and truffle oil, but you know–I started cooking that Indian food and forgot about the time and the day, and well, that is what happens when I start speaking the language of the spices. I get carried away!

    Alix–thank you for what you just said. That was one of the best compliments ever. You have divined my entire raison d’etre of this blog: to share my own ordinary food (which I am well cognizant is not everyone’s ordinary food, but that is the way I cook, for honest and for true) in a way that can help others learn how to make it. I am at heart, a teacher.

    A comparison to Alton Brown is a deep compliment, and I am very touched. I do mess with him because he says you cannot use a wok on an American stove, because I know for a fact he is wrong, but pretty much on everything else we agree. He and I both believe in that the “why” of cooking is as important as the “how,” we are both geeks of a high order, and we both are a strong foundation in looking at cookery from a scientific basis. (And yet, we both also understand that there is magic and alchemy in there, too!)

    Thank you, thank you. I will keep writing–have no fear.

    Sonali–about the ricotta and paneer–they are not interchangable. Ricotta is very soft–it is spreadable, like softened cream cheese or well drained cottage cheese. If you tried to use it in mattar paneer, for example, it would melt into the sauce and there would be no cheese! It would just make the sauce really thick and creamy. (Ricotta is used to make fillings for pastas or pastries, and in some pasta sauces, or to stuff mushrooms or other vegetables.)

    To substitute for paneer–I would say you could use a fresh mozzerella, though it is very, very soft, and might fall apart in the sauce if you cooked it in for a long time, or it might be so fragile that stirring would break it up. You might do regular mozzerella, but only put it in near the end of cooking so it doesn’t melt.

    Halloumi cheese–it is a Greek or Lebanese cheese–has a very similar flavor and texture to paneer. It does melt but not quickly or easily–it might do, but then, it might be harder to find than paneer

    Have you made paneer from scratch? I have done it once or twice–it is fairly easy–it just takes time.

    Mmmm. Dosas. Blueberry pancakes. I don’t know which one I like better–but you are right–they are not interchangable. ;-)

    Comment by Barbara — February 17, 2006 #

  10. Maureen–we cross-posted.

    That was a beautiful comment.

    Thank you very much for sharing.

    You know, it is funny–what you said reminded me of what a chef told me in culinary school, when I made a disparaging remark about my fondness for “hillbilly food.”

    He said, “Never, ever look down on common food, even if it is your own. Because, at the end of the day, nearly every chef I know wants nothing to do with the fanciest entrees they have cooked all night. They don’t want to look at it, they don’t want to taste another rich sauce. Their palates are jaded, their eyes are tired of colors.

    They just want simple food, prepared well. They want comfort in a bowl.”

    And he was right. The further I got into the program, the less I wanted fancy food. I would come home and cook pots of pinto beans and pans of cornbread. I’d bring home other students and we’d all eat that and a mess of greens, and be so happy–even kids who hadn’t grown up in the south. And it was like the best food in the world.

    Then, another night, we’d go to Chris’ house and he make a pot of sticky rice for us and some Korean braised beef, and he’d set out the kimchee and we’d all eat, like we were starving.

    And another night, we’d go to another kid’s house and have congee. Or spaghetti. Whatever it was that our Moms cooked for us as kids, we’d eat.

    When my chef found out what we were doing, he laughed–and patted me on the back. “Didn’t I tell you?” he said.

    Didn’t he ever.

    It is true. Every chef I worked with, no matter where they had worked, who they had cooked for, or what they had done–they were most impressed with simple dishes cooked well. And that is what they loved best.

    (And one of them loved cheese sandwiches.)

    Comment by Barbara — February 17, 2006 #

  11. Very nicely put. I always enjoy hearing your thoughts.

    Comment by Kalyn — February 17, 2006 #

  12. Barbara,

    Thanks for all the info on the cheeses. I will keep it in mind…groceries are due tomorrow anyways. Today on ‘Unwrapped’ they showed how ricotta is made & it seemed similar to paneer, so I was wondering. Another time I got cottage cheese (I thought it was same as paneer so I was using it to make paneer masala) but it melted completely in the pan. I just mopped it up with bread & ate it :)

    “Have you made paneer from scratch? I have done it once or twice–it is fairly easy–it just takes time.”

    — Yes I have made paneer at home a lot of times for my high protein low carb diet..I used skim milk only. It tastes much better than the bought ones.

    Mmmm. Dosas. Blueberry pancakes. I don’t know which one I like better–but you are right–they are not interchangable.

    — Yes difficult choice :).

    Comment by Sonali — February 17, 2006 #

  13. Kalyn, thank you. I am amazed at the chronicle of the cheese sammich you have on your blog! WOW! Very cool.

    I would also be honored if you added my commentary to the chronicle, you know, for posterity.

    Because, I suspect that in a year, we will all look back at this and giggle. I know that I plan to still be here, writing about the doings in my kitchen, in a year. I suspect quite a few of us will still be trading recipes across the Internet, long after the waves from this tempest have died down.

    Also–I think that instead of my usual Weekend Cat Blogging, I will join you all for Weekend Herb Blogging this time around. And maybe stay a while–or, maybe, I will combine the two?

    But I love herbs, and I don’t know why I haven’t joined in until now.

    Ah, well. Better late than never, yes?

    Comment by Barbara — February 17, 2006 #

  14. Beautiful. This is one of the best pieces I’ve read so far on the subject matter. I’m so glad you wrote it. :o)

    BTW — I don’t think anyone is against ‘moving on’ to respond to what Alanna commented. Some people just need a little bit of time to write what they want to, and I don’t think anyone needs to tell us to move on. I understand the sentiment, but people will stop talking about it when they feel they’ve expressed themselves and are ready to move on. I think part of the process of growing as a little food community is important and not to necessarily be rushed through. That’s all. :)

    Comment by Alicat — February 17, 2006 #

  15. After a hellish few days of working around the clock, I missed quite a few of the Cheese Sammich blogs and have been catching up. Bravo and thank you for summing it up so well. I agree that yours should be the last word on this.

    And now it is time to go answer all my emails and post one for Weekend Herb Blogging.

    Comment by MM — February 17, 2006 #

  16. Hello, Alicat–

    I took a while to get around to it, and I am glad I did. That thought about Taste of Home hit me this morning, and I realized that was the last piece that my mind was reaching for, but hadn’t quite grasped.

    Moving on takes many forms. And we all will in our own time, in our own ways. I really do believe that in a year, we will look back at this and laugh–I do know that time and distance has caused me to giggle often at things that were highly horrible at the time.

    Besides–I would rather laugh than cry any day.

    Crying makes the mascara run, you know. ;-)

    (Not that I wear it, but it is a good line.)

    Welcome, Stephanie! Glad you dropped by to visit.

    I am too often accused of having the last word, (mostly by my husband and daughter) so if someone jumps up to speak after me, I won’t be offended in the slightest.

    But if I do get the last word, well, then, I will smile and pretend it was all planned that way. ;-)

    Comment by Barbara — February 18, 2006 #

  17. This is gonna sound weird – but I just wasn’t that upset by Peter Wells’ article because I knew he was just an outsider looking in. Spending a day windowshopping doesn’t mean you’ve taken inventory of all the stock. Or, to put it simply – he’s as full of crap as everyone else. (And that includes me!) Life is much more pleasant when I keep that in mind.

    On Taste of Home – when my mom was still alive she and I split a subscription to the magazine. She loved it better than Gourmet or any of the “foodie” magazines. The people who shared those recipes spoke her language when it came to food. My favorite lemon pie recipe came out of one issue – I sill have it in my “favorite magazine” file after 10 years.

    Herb blogging?! Where?!

    Comment by Rosie — February 18, 2006 #

  18. Kalyn at http://kalynskitchen.blogspot.com/ has Weekend Herb Blogging every weekend. Here’s where she describes how it works:

    http://kalynskitchenlinks.blogspot.com/2005/12/weekend-herb-blogging-weekly-recap.html

    I have to admit to not loving every recipe I see in Taste of Home–and I think that was definately more so in the past. The recent issues I have looked at–like the current one–has great recipes for perfectly good food in them.

    And–having looked at the new magazines out by Paula Deen and Rachel Ray–the recipes in ToH have fewer prepared foods or convenience foods as ingredients than Paula Deen’s magazine, and the photography is of better quality than in Rachel Ray’s magazine–and the recipes sound, in general, more appealing than hers, too.

    I’m just saying that those circulation numbers are coming from somewhere….

    Comment by Barbara — February 18, 2006 #

  19. Very well said! I have often tried to get into food magazines, but I find the cuisine featured is so alien from the home style cooking I am more used to. I am absolutely addicted to food blogs – and yours is my favourite and the one I visit most, despite not having much experience with Chinese or Asian cuisine – because everything seems so much more relatable. You aren’t trying to sell me a lifestyle or expensive gourmet food that is totally alien to the simple food I cook myself, just food that I can easily whip up in my own kitchen, but would never have known how to make without your guidance. I like the language of food bloggers, too, if that makes sense – it seems more directly tied to the everyday reality of cooking.

    Comment by Stephanie — February 18, 2006 #

  20. Barbara, what a wonderfully written post! Believe me, it IS the last word (words?) on this topic, as far as I’m concerned :)

    Comment by shammi — February 18, 2006 #

  21. Have not read everything everyone has written on this, so sorry if I repeat, but I believe food writing is undergoing a revolution, still in its infancy, transforming the old model of fixed copy such as magazines and cookbooks into blog, print-on-demand, compilation, building recipe collections like IPod tunes.

    Taste of Home is an indicator we are going that way. I didn’t know about it, and thank you, Barbara, for enlightening me.

    Digital Dish is the first book I know of that took the best of food bloggers and put it into book form. My copy is already spattered with juice and grease.

    We are now experiencing first hand the workings of this revolution. The Cheese Sammich incident is one of the more spectacular recent manifestations of it.

    More power to people who love to cook. That is the ecstatic result of the collision between food, cooks, and the Internet!

    My “review” of Digital Dish is here:

    http://www.myth.typepad.com/breakfast/2005/05/digital_dish_wi.html

    Comment by DF — February 18, 2006 #

  22. Right said Barbara!

    Comment by Meena — February 18, 2006 #

  23. Great post!
    Also, I love your blog generally, as well as being fond of the part of Ohio you live in (my daughters live in Logan).

    Comment by lucette — February 18, 2006 #

  24. I’m SOOO glad you wrote about that article in F&W. I read it last week, and the steam was coming out of my head by the time I finished it. And I think a Cheese Sandwich day would be great. I love cheese sandwiches. They are a fatal weakness of mine

    Comment by Sher — February 18, 2006 #

  25. Hi Barbara – I enjoyed reading this post, it was very well thought out, and written with such clarity, that I could not help nodding in agreement several times. Thanks for the mention, BTW. I’m not really a food writer, I’m a food eater, and really enjoy “eating”, especially what we eat “the other 5 days of the week”, you knowm when we’re not dishing out $70+ for a meal. After reading Mr Wells article, I dismissed it immediately as alot of pompous, pretentious, BS. It’s just too bad that a supposed “food writer” is not able to find anything interesting in a cheese sandwich…probably because he made it Himself.

    Comment by Kirk — February 18, 2006 #

  26. Stephanie–thank you very much for your kind words. It means a lot to know that I am on the right track, and that my writing is going out in the world and helping people cook things they might never think to do without a little guidance.

    You are right–I do tend to focus on everyday food. To me, the soul of a cuisine is the food that the common folk eat. All the fanciful foods in the world are based on the everyday food of the peasants.

    I guess because I grew up a farm kid, I will always be biased towards “common” food.

    And that is fine. That is what most people in the world eat most of the time anyway.

    Hello, Shammi–good to see you again! Well, last word, first word–what matters is that it is said. ;-)

    DF–Welcome to my blog–I liked the peek at yours I got yesterday–as I said at Kalyn’s the best part of this whole mess is that I have been introduced to some awesome blogs. There is good that comes from all adversity.

    You know, not many people know about Taste of Home’s circulation stats. I have known for a while, because I pay attention to stuff like that, but also because I have been editing The Paper Palate for a couple of months now, so it behooves me to stay informed about these things.

    I tend to agree with you–and if you read my post right after this it seems that David Sifray agrees with us as well. Niche blogs are creeping up on the niche print media in popularity. My words have been dismissed when I say that a dent is being made in the readership of print food publications by digital media, but I keep finding evidence to support my assertion.

    There is a revolution happening. Where it goes and what happens next will be an interesting thing to watch. With Frank Bruni starting a blog through the New York Times, I think we are seeing the beginning of another trend–professional food writers in partnership with their employers, starting “professional” food blogs. This indicates several things to me–that print media is getting a clue at the viability of blogs as a means to get more information to readers.

    What will happen with these “professional” blogs? Will they thrive? Will they take readership from the current non-professional food blogs? Will food blogs start to stratify? Will some current food bloggers “go pro,” and figure out a way to get paid for their words? Will print journalists still look down on pro bloggers, then?

    Lots of neat things to think about, that is for certain.

    Digital Dish is a great little book. I have bought four copies of it–one for myself, three for gifts.

    Thanks, Meena!

    Lucette–Logan is a pretty place, out in the Hocking Hills. We have friends out that way. If you are ever visiting your daughter and want to stop by in Athens, let me know–we can go shopping at the Farmer’s Market, or have a little supper here, you never know.

    Sher–I didn’t ever get mad, really–I just got irritated. He took cheap shots in his writing, and that is just tiresome. He really is a better writer than that.

    And yeah, cheese sammies are great!

    Kirk–I am glad you aren’t cranky with me for using you as an example. But I had just visited your blog, and saw where you had eaten lunch, and then looked at all the comments and was like, “Wells just has no clue what he is talking about–people are all about what Kirk is having for lunch.”

    You know, my daughter reads you all the time, btw–when I told her about this post, before I said anything about me using your blog as an example, she said, “But, Mom! That guy is full of crap–I read Kirk’s blog, and he is always talking about what he ate for lunch. And it’s cool! He’s like funny, and fun and everybody likes him. What a load.”

    I started laughing and was glad that we were at a red light, because I started snorting. When I finally recovered and told her that i used you as an example, she was like, “Oh, yeah. Cool. Good example.”

    Comment by Barbara — February 19, 2006 #

  27. I love it. Just love it. I think you perfectly expressed what we’re all feeling. And for that? Thank you.

    Comment by Stephanie — February 20, 2006 #

  28. Stephanie, you’ve made some very good points – I appreciate your thoughtful perspective. There was a story about Taste of Home on NPR sometime in December – it made it into the weekly “Food” podcast. A search on the NPR site for “Taste of Home” should turn it up for anyone interested.

    By the way, halloumi is a Cypriot cheese – and as it so happens, the cheese I selected for my ‘protest’ sandwich! It Cyprus it is made with sheep and/or goat’s milk, and it’s so much better than what I’ve found here in the US, but even so, it’s a good and fun cheese to try.

    Comment by Tricia — February 20, 2006 #

  29. Hello, and welcome, Tricia. BTW–my name is Barbara–but you may have been speaking to one of the two Stephanies who have also commented.

    I heard about the NPR story on Taste of Home a while back, but haven’t listened to it yet. I probably should.

    You are correct–haloumi should be more specifically noted as Cyrpriot–though of course, Cyprus is part of Greece.

    I have had Lebanese haloumi as well.It is really great cheese.

    Comment by Barbara — February 20, 2006 #

  30. Barbara,

    I have been lurking and reading your archives.( I will be adding you to my link list, but it might take me awhile) I really am enjoying your posts. I had to comment on this post because Welle’s article was a load of BS. Good for you for linking to some of the well known lunch bloggers (nudges Kirk). I was surpised how well Welles shot himself in the foot in the same article.
    I had know Taste of Home had a large readership ( I think I read it somewheres), but I think I had filed it under misc info. ;) Lately I have been known to sneak off with my Mother in Laws copy and read it in the closet. :P It is pretty good magazine.

    Comment by milgwimper — February 21, 2006 #

  31. Thank you for de-lurking milgwimper. I always enjoy getting to know my readers!

    At this point, I see no reason to read Taste of Home in the closet. That might have been true, even a few years ago, when the issues I picked up had enough Cheez Wiz, canned soup, Jello and Cool Whip in the recipes to make my stomach try to vacate the body and run off to Rio to hide.

    But from what I have been seeing recently, the quality of recipes has gone up and the editing and photography has improved greatly as well. Now, it just reads as good, honest, plain old American country cooking–and there is nothing wrong with that.

    That’s what I grew up eating, after all….

    Comment by Barbara — February 22, 2006 #

  32. Sorry, Barbara, for getting your name wrong. I was scrolling around in the comments and got it from there *rather than the end of your post* (silly me!).

    As far as Cyprus is concerned, the southern portion is strongly affiliated with Greece, but is an independent country (former British colony, granted independent in 1960). More details at the CIA Factbook: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/cy.html

    I didn’t realize there was Lebanese version of halloumi, although I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – we learned about halloumi while in Cyprus with a friend who’d grown up in Lebanon and spent a lot of time vacationing in Cyprus. So it’s not surprising there’s some cross-over in the treatment of milks!

    Comment by Tricia — February 23, 2006 #

  33. I always think of Cyprus as part of Greece, because of the Greek Cypriots I knew in college, who very much considered themselves to be Greek. (Instead of Turkish….) But you are correct–it is a separate country.

    Cheeses are one of those food items that cross borders easily. I have had both Cypriot and Lebanese haloumi, and they are identicle! (Quality varies from maker to maker, of course, but other than that, the physical characteristics of the cheese are the same.)

    Comment by Barbara — February 24, 2006 #

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