The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

the giant cookie + a call for bloggers

Pillows. Water balloons. Silly Putty. Guinea pigs. Myself. These things may seem incongruous when in fact they are all bonded by the characteristic of being squishy.

And that's okay. Sometimes. I'm sure guinea pigs are quite cute because of their squishiness (besides the attractiveness of being a small, furry being). But you know what else is squishy? STAY-PUFT MARSHMALLOW MAN.

What's my point? Well. Today the squishiness of my...uh, uterine region alarmed me quite a bit. Nope, nothing's growing in there (and neverrrr wiillll), it's just squishy in an unsettling way. No, I don't expect it to be rock hard (that would be more alarming) but the level of squishiness I have attained (rather high) isn't very favorable. For a 20 year old., why am I telling you this? Moving on.

their cookies are freakin' huge
the cookie has it's own fault line

This morning I had to go to the Time Warner Center since my Beverages class was scheduled for a tour of Cafe Gray. I timed my morning so that I could stop by Levain Bakery, which I had never been to before but heard had great cookies, before walking down to meet my class at 10:15 AM. Yes, I'm afraid that this is called "time management" in Robyn's world: "When do I leave my dorm so I can go to this bakery, get a good look around, inhale some freshly baked fumes, and give myself enough time to walk 15 blocks?" Miraculously, the time worked out perfectly and it turned out the subway I got on didn't stop at Columbus Circle anyway; I was destined to meet the cookie.

Levain Bakery
Why doesn't my basement have a bakery?
stuff at Levain Bakery
scones and cookies are your friends

I got a 6-ounce chocolate chip walnut cookie from the surprisingly small bakery, which also sold scones and...I forget, actually. Despite it's small-ness, (they give you your order from the baking trays behind the counter, not from the display, which makes everything seem very fresh) I failed to keep track of their other offerings. Because I'm braindead. I'm sure they had muffins, but I can't remember much else.

I actually got to eat the cookie after leaving the restaurant (I'll get to that), around 11:30. I took a bite (by elegantly ripping off a chunk) on the subway; first impression is that it was good, much better than average, but didn't exactly blow me away. The cookie is freakin' huge so it's kind of between a scone and a cookie. However, when I ate the cookie later at work and again at night (it took all day to eat), it tasted better. And better. My main thought was "Oh my god, this is my favorite cookie ever, why does it taste so good, what is happening to my tastebuds, what what what?!" And I realized I could never buy it again because 1) it was sin in crispy-soft cookie form and probably had 1000+ calories and 2) it destroyed my appetite. Don't get me wrong--I still ate, but not with as much gusto as I usually would, Monday for example; that was a good day. Mmm. So why did the cookie destroy my appetite? Well, it was a titanic calorie/deliciousness bomb, somewhat disguised as one serving (or five). I don't even know how to describe the cookie to you besides that it's not your average cookie. It's freakin' MOUNTAIN. Of DOUGH. And THINGS IN THE DOUGH THAT MAKE THE DOUGH TASTE REALLY GOOD. And then it's BAKED into a WONDEROUS BUMPY GOLDEN CHUNK. If there were cookie mines underground (oh, could you imagine?), this is what you'd fill your wheelbarrow with while hacking away at the walls. To add more to my completely pointless description, it just had this amazing flavor and smell. I've decided that smell, even if unidentifiable (although by gut instinct you know it's good), is key; if it smells good in that nice, fresh sense, the chances of it tasting good are somewhat high. The weird thing is that one of the smells it gave off was of dried fruit; I kept thinking of cranberries. Maybe they picked up the smell from one of the other pastries.

(Thankfully, there are real food writers out there. Delusional people have told me that I have a future in writing. Oh, are you really sure? Read Rick's review and Clotilde's review. Rick succinctly states,

They are the Mike Tysons of the cookie world, swinging hard first and dealing with the legal implications later. Like the scones, they have a firm but soft composition, but they are beyond rich and meant to be consumed at a sensible pace.

And Clotilde reflects:

Nested in its increasingly see-through paper bag, this bulky half-pound little guy accompanied me for the next two days (and in fact all the way back to Paris), good-naturedly allowing me to tear off the occasional bite or two from its generous flanks. And this was exactly my kind of cookie -- crispy chunky chewy and all manner of adjectives rhyming in "-y".

Two days? Two day?! [curses] "Flanks" is one of the best words I've ever heard used to describe a cookie, but this may be the first cookie it applies to. Anyway, these descriptions are perfect and straight to the point, while mine is obviously a product of lack of...something...nevermind, I can only be so self deprecating in a public blog.)

cookie innards
cookie innards

Bottom line: if you like cookies and scones, this is so worth your $3.50, although I'd recommend sharing it with someone (there's no way I'm eating this again if I'm not sharing it, and don't even ask me about SAVING half of it for later...*pshaw*). If you don't like cookies and scones, you need to go far, far away, before your anti-cookie and scone demeanor taints my blog.

I have more to say, but I'll continue with my pointless meanderings tomorrow. However...


I mentioned ages ago that I'm doing an essay about food blogs. As you can see, I've progressed so much...*hack cough vomit* or not. I'm having trouble with my thesis, not because I don't have anything in mind but because I don't know if they're plausible. If you run a food blog of any type, please give me some feedback on these ideas my teacher helped me come to (and I don't think this is "cheating" since I'm writing about you guys):

  • Given the increasing importance of discourse about food (I brought up food media, food channel, magazines, blah blah), blogs arise as an alternative form of media allowing food enthusiasts--not otherwise professionals in the food world-- (well, I know that many are in the food business, but then there are people like me who have psychological problems that lead to unhealthy food obsessions) a voice.
  • Food blogs are a deliberate counter culture against the glossy, idyllic food images of Gourmet, Cook's Illustrated, etc. (To me, this is more of a thing that bloggers wouldn't be doing consciously, thus I'd have to dig it out. With. Forks. And knives. And skewers. It's related to the first idea so I can smush these two together if they both seems plasusible...which they do. Surely there are many food bloggers who are obsessed with the Food Network and have favorite cooki=ng magazines, although oddly, I happen to not watch TV or read food magazines. Books, you betcha, but magazines, not so much. And not cookbooks, but as you've noticed, I don't cook "real" food; FAKE, IT IS. Er, anyway, I brought up commercial food media as sometimes being incredibly porn-y and unreal and bloggers as independent media going against the picture-perfect food world. Or something.)

So those are some thoughts. My teacher is under the impression that I know a lot about food blogs, but it's all a lie. Liiiie.

However, the squishiness of my baby-growing parts is not a lie.


Nerissa / November 30, 2005 9:30 AM

I stopped and thought about your thesis possibilities. I was thinking that from what I've seen, many food blogger out there are actually somewhere between your two thoughts. We want to be all Martha Stewart-y with picture perfect food that people would kill to have more of BUT our blogs are sometimes counterculture because we put a reality check on the actual edibility of those glossy recipes by trying them out.

Wei / November 30, 2005 4:00 PM

For me, a blog is one of 2 things: 1) its a journal of sorts.. or at least it starts out that way. I'm not sure if its a self-affirmation step or not, however, it does convey your thoughts/feelings/etc.. to a much wider audience than say your circle of close friends. 2) its a catalogue for a hobby. The blog, itself, might or might not turn into an enity of its own. Rather, its to store memories of another activity (ie. biking, railroad building, or.. fooding).

I'm thinking along the lines of being a food enthusist, you've chronicaled your adventures and decided to share w/ the rest of the world. The fact that the voice which you've written with is uniquely your own and not others, makes it more enjoyable to read as well as lending it crediability (ie. not commercialized blog such as Alton Brown's.. meh) Perhaps you could elaborate in your paper on the hobby of blogging or the enjoyment of sharing your experience with others? (small aside note.. this reminds me of the 1800's when science was vogue and people were enthused about new discoveries).

As for counter-culture, I don't think that was the original intent of a blog. The original intent was another medium to express yourself. Self-expression.. well, it can go all the way back to the cavemen, to the film-niore, and now to the internet.

While I don't blog, I do actively read other's blogs. Its sort of sociological/anthroplogical in the sense that you're understanding where someone else is coming from and the journey that they're taking.

Sophie / November 30, 2005 4:10 PM

Oh I've been reading your blog for a while, endlessly amused by your befuddleness at your "inner" (=intestinal) world, but this has all reached an insurmountable level of craving now: please send me some Levain Cookies,for I've checked their site, and I don't suppose they ship them to England, right? I could send you toffee...or even something that I suspect would undoubtedly delight you: Cadbury's...?

mike king / November 30, 2005 5:14 PM

I don't want anything to do with anything remotely martha-stewart-esque. My goal is only to mirror textually what I'd be doing anyway, but that probably entails introducing gringos to tasty ethnic food.

Beyond that, I'm my own worst self-evaluator. :)

Rich / November 30, 2005 5:53 PM

In the effort of furthering my procrastination by helping out with yours I will give this a shot. I think it would be interesting to look at the discourse of food on the 'net starting pre-blog with usenet ( from before 1995 or so) and then some of the recipe archives like SOAR (at berkeley?) ... then conde nast, epicurious, big media. Then community sites, like chowhound. Then you could go into how digicams and blogs whatnot turned the whole thing on its head.

At least that's one way to approach the intro to it.

Any tips on writing my paper on Fourier analysis and power spectrum decomposition of phonons produced by fast moving dislocations would be awesome, too. :)

Beth / December 1, 2005 6:47 PM

That is so funny that you reviewed Levain Bakery cookies today! Just this morning, I commented on the Food Musings blog about these phenomenal treats. I live in San Diego and I'm so happy that I can have these cookies FedExed to me through their web site. It's amazing how they last for days! I literally walked miles in the rain for those cookies one time. Now my cravings are out of control!

eastsidegirl / December 2, 2005 9:04 AM

Another interesting layer to add to the discussion is the fact that suddenly "food" is very cool in popular media. From celebrity chefs to the Food Network to the bookstores, suddenly being a "foodie" is really hot.

Specifically, in the book market, food memoir is extremely popular right now. Take a look at books like Amanda Hesser's Cooking for Mr. Latte, any book by Ruth Reichel (Garlic and Sappphires is amazing), anything by Jeffery Steingarten...these books are extremely accessible and fun to read.

What food blogs do is further extend the notion of the food memoir, making it even more accessible--it's not NY Times writers or reviewers for Vogue--it's people just like you and me. That's why food blogs have so much appeal. There's a kind of food renaissance going on in this country right now, and food blogs are an important part of that.

mzn / December 2, 2005 3:54 PM

First of all, your writing is better than those other people's. Seriously. "Freshly baked fumes" is the best turn of phrase I've read all week. "A titanic calorie/deliciousness bomb" is great too. And what the hell is "rhyming in -y-"? I mean, C's English is really good and this makes no sense.

Second, don't follow Rich's advice about what to write in your paper. He's given you way too much for a single assignment, never mind an introduction.

Now your questions: I do see food blogs as an alternative to the mainstream publications and to the Food Network but I think you're right that food bloggers aren't necessarily conscious of being in opposition to the corporate media. For me what makes food blogs interesting is that they have a personal, immediate quality that is similar to that of memoirs, as eastsidegirl says, but they also have a quality of raw, unedited, everyday blogginess that is different from what you find in books and magazines. This is more important to their appeal than the notion of offering the antidote to Gourmet-style food porn.

The other key, I think, is something food blogs share with all kinds of blogs. They foster a sense of community among bloggers (and commenters). We feel a connection to all of these other people who share our interests. This social dimension makes blogs much different from traditional forms of media.

Sam / December 3, 2005 9:21 PM

I really agree with the suggestions above about
1) fostering community
2) creating food memoir
3) Our food is real, we photograph it then we EAT it!

Another thing I think bloggers have an advantage over magazines in particular, is immediacy.
We all know that the Christmas issue of Gourmet was put together in August or something - well how real is that? Food bloggers are doing this stuff as it happens. They can pick up on news and trends faster and turn around a story in minutes too. The mags just can't do that.

I have just found out that people in the real food world are taking us seriously too which amazed me. I just contacted a lot of my favourite food vendors asking for prizes for a charity event and hardly anyone turned me down. These are big names in the local food industry. I was amazed at their generosity and they were even thanking me for having written about them on my site.(I don't know these people personally, they are just places where I love to shop and eat). I even had some begging to allow them to pay for advertising on my site.

Another thing is that food bloggers can break the rules about restaurant reviews, for example, they don't have to adhere to the gudelines by which reviewers normally judge a restaurant. They can give a first imression, they dont have to visit 3 times, they can go in the first three months of opening. Personally I have found myself migrating more towards the traditional way of doing reviews as my blog has gotten more popular, because I feel a great sense of responsibility is necessary, but that is not to say there isn't a lot of alternative style restaurant reporting out there in Food Blog land.

hope those things help give you ideas.
I could ramble on for ever.
If only there had been such fun dissertation projects in my day.

Mark / December 7, 2005 9:16 PM

Hey everyone, lots of good, um...(don't say it...) food for thought (you said it). For me, I have to separate reading food blogs and writing about food. The foodblog consumer in me is borne from the semi-obsessive cookbook reader I used to be until one day at Borders or some other big metal box I became utterly worn-down by the stacks and stacks of hideous, uninspired, nearly identical cookbooks. I also kinda fell out of love with glossies...gratuitous food porn aside, I'd made some lifestyle changes (one of the same ones that Jason did) that put me completely out of touch with the average Gourmet reader I also used to be.

I think this is something that Jason was getting at and may even have said, but the refreshing, inspiring thing about my favorite food blogging is that these people aren't professional: they don't have to have that shiny, watered-down, pop-music gloss in their writing that would otherwise make them employable food writers (no dis intended to passionate professionals out there, or food bloggers who are becoming professionals as a result of their blogging). And they're not driven by a corporate agenda (with all of the contentious hidden implications/insinuations suggested by that)...the content hasn't been filtered through layers of personality removers, so it feels like a much more intimate and real communication.

There's also the specificity: as my cooking has improved, the kinds of recipes that interest me have narrowed dramatically, and frankly, unless it's something like the spectacular Tasting Menu cookbooks, I'm unlikely to covet a regional cuisine-focused print cookbook that I don't already have (although here in Amsterdam I am actively stalking a great-looking Surinamese cookbook). Food blogs fill that need by providing short-attention-span-oriented pinpricks of inspiration that can be ridiculously exotic in composition but relatively simple to execute.

I guess I'll write about the writing part as an actual entry, since I haven't posted to my own site in a week...thanks for the juicy topic!

Outis / January 2, 2006 7:01 AM

I often blog about food (as an amateur and a poet), but I actually tend towards the pornographic, excessive, and aesthetic ("The pornography is inexhaustible").... I rarely write about negative food experiences, though, and my aim (insofar as I can be said to have intentions) is more to seduce, titillate, excite, let my stream of wit and reflection flow, and to write something interesting, intense, out of the ordinary, and formally pleasing....

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