The Year in Food 2006


FDA to Animal Cloners: Go for It!

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced this year that we’ve taken a major step toward an exciting future in which zillions of exact genetic copies of particularly fertile milk-bearing cows and exceptionally delicious pigs produce most of the milk and bacon we consume.

While opponents are promising a zesty courtroom battle, a conclusion favorable to big industry players such as Dannon, Kraft Foods, and General Mills seems almost inevitable.—James Norton

Big-League Blog Pile

Major print publications, both food-centric and not, launched blogs en masse. Diner’s Journal, from New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni, debuted in February; Epicurious followed quickly with its editor-written Epi-Log and was accompanied by not one but two food blogs from House & Garden magazine. Then Michael Bauer, the San Francisco Chronicle’s restaurant critic, jumped into the fray with Between Meals. Just when it seemed like the blog-launching wave had crested, New York magazine sprang Grub Street in September, and prolific food-book author Michael Ruhlman started his eponymous blog the following month. Food-blogger book deals, coupled with increasing blog ad sales (and ever-declining magazine ad sales), have helped shift the motivation for these launches into focus.—Christy Harrison

How to Photograph Like a Porn Star

Having a food blog is so 2005. Now it’s all SLR this and ISO that: Food pornography has hit the blogosphere. At restaurants, photographs used to record friends sharing a meal; now they document the plate. A Flickr group called Foodography enshrined the hobby-makers as an official community, encouraging people to post their food photos and critique each other’s images. Food & Wine got in on the action in its July issue, advising amateur pornographers to get the money shot with a sharp foreground and soft background. Foodography closed its doors in December, making way for a new challenge to pick up the slack. We’re all for visual gratification in our daily reading, and many bloggers shoot truly fantastic images. But perhaps there’s a limit.
Davina Baum

Lab Explosion: Molecular Gastronomy Blows Up

The school of cooking dubbed molecular gastronomy graduated this year from geeky curiosity to major American culinary movement. The New Yorker, Wired, and Fast Company all ran fawning profiles of young chefs who use lab equipment (lasers! flash-freezing devices! liquid nitrogen!) to create surrealistic dishes such as a cocktail made with Pop Rocks and dehydrated bacon hung on a wire. A variety of related products aimed at home chefs also hit the market. Most notably, El Bulli, the Spanish restaurant credited with pioneering the movement, launched its Texturas line of chemicals and powders used to transform liquids into gels and foams. PolyScience ramped up sales of its Anti-Griddle—a device that flash-freezes anything, while leaving the middle unfrozen. Frozen hot chocolate with a warm, gooey center, anyone?
Lessley Anderson

Food Podcasting Blossoms as Food Vlogging Hatches

Although podcasting’s been around for over three years, food podcasting really only went mainstream in 2006. This year saw the launch of regularly occurring podcasts from print magazines such as Gourmet and Wine Spectator, newspaper food sections, and websites such as Hungry Magazine and eGullet.

Look for more vlogging, or video blogging, in the upcoming year. Like blogging, vlogging is homegrown and usually features one person onscreen in his or her living room or kitchen sharing sometimes-dubious information. Think Wayne’s World meets Julia Child. The Vloggie Awards’ creation of a cooking category (with only four nominees in 2006) is a sign of things to come.—Meredith Arthur