Saturday, August 04, 2007

Weekend Stuff

His Royal Highness Dale lounging on his bed...
Dalu

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Last weekend, I ran off to Chicago for a day to attend a very unusual conference. For one thing, it was the first time in my life that I was attending a conference that did not have the words "ribonucleic acid" in the title! For another, I had the honor of participating by being a panelist. It was the 2007 BlogHer Conference (BlogHer is where the "woman bloggers"- the blogHers are!) where about 800 participants, most of whom were woman, came together for a 4-day conference on every aspect of blogging- the technical, the intellectual, the emotional.

I was only able to attend a small portion of the conference. I landed in Chicago last Friday night and took a cab straight to the Foodbloggers' Dinner at a Schezwan restaurant in the heart of Chicago's Chinatown. There were about 30-40 foodbloggers, some that I "knew" (it was a thrill to see them in person) and many that I did not (I am looking forward to "discovering" their blogs now). Many thanks to Alanna, Terry and Gemma for organizing this mega-dinner. The food was **spicy** as can be and oh-so-delicious. But mostly, it was spicy! Probably the hottest food I have ever eaten in my life, and definitely the hottest food I have ever eaten in North America. And I am from Kolhapur, so I know something about spicy food. Anyway, I ate the most luscious tofu ever, in the Ma Po Tofu that we were served, and now I won't rest until I can recreate this dish at home. Anyone know a good recipe?

Next morning was the 75-minute session on The Art of Foodblogging and I was by far the most inexperienced of the panelists (both in terms of blogging experience and culinary skills). You will see what I mean when I tell you who the rest of the panelists were: Alanna, Jasmine, Shuna and Susan, with Kalyn as moderator. Elise was there too, and it was truly wonderful to finally get a chance to meet her in person. We each spoke for a few minutes, giving our perspectives about food blogging, then took questions from the audience. Any take home lessons? Well, the underlying theme really was that there is no right or wrong way to do something, but it is worthwhile thinking about every aspect of a food blog in a conscious way.

I had to take back a flight early that same evening, and my timing was really rotten: I missed a food photography session :( :( But never fear, the lovely Bea (I luckily got to meet her at breakfast) has written up all the tips on food styling that she and the other presenters shared that day.

I did, however, get a chance to attend a truly inspirational session: it discussed how blogging is a way to bring a voice to silenced communities. So many groups remain repressed in every country in this world- because of their gender, or race, or political affiliation, or because they have a disease or a condition that is considered a stigma, or for so many other reasons. Blogging is a way of breaking the taboo, and speaking out. All in all, I left the conference with a renewed sense of the power and strength that comes with being both a woman and a blogger. My heartfelt thanks to the organizers for making it happen.

Click on the links to see what Kalyn and Susan have to say about the conference!

Note: for some reason, I am not able to access the BlogHer website on my computer. The minute I try to do that, the browser crashes. The folks at BlogHer are currently working to fix this bug. In any case, this website would be a wonderful place to get lots of information about the events of the conference.

One last thing: If you are looking for particular posts or recipes on One Hot Stove, I have placed a google custom search box in the right side-bar that should make it easy to do so. Hope you find it useful.

See you tomorrow, with you-know-what!

27 comments:

  1. Hi Nupur,
    I had no idea that there was ever such a conference in Chicago area. I was in chicago too in that same week. I would have loved to attend even though I dont blog but just read.
    In fact we also stopped at St. Louis and remembered you.

    Vinita

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  2. Nupur it was so wonderful to see you again, and you were fantastic on the panel. I think nearly everyone in the audience had tears in their eyes when you were talking about how your blog has been a comfort to the woman who had no relatives still living to share the traditional recipes with her. Wasn't it such a wonderful conference!

    I'm wondering why you can't get to their site? I'll let the people at Blogher know that.

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  3. Wow... I exchanged some mails with Kalyn about the conference.

    Am glad you went. It must have been great. :-)

    Hugs

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  4. Vinita, sorry you missed it! Next time you are in St. Louis, please do drop me a line and maybe we could meet up. Always nice to meet up with a fellow foodie :)

    Kalyn, you did such a fantastic job of keeping the ball rolling. The panel discussion was a wonderful experience for me! The first time I have done anything like it.
    Actually, Alanna did contact the BlogHer tech people about this problem, and they are working on it. The website has just been updated, and this must be some small glitch.

    Raaga, it really was fun! I'm glad I could go too...I learnt so much.

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  5. I heard of this conference last year, but never had the opportunity to attend. Its so g8 they had a food blogger panel and event!
    As for the blogher site, I successfully opened it using Firefox on my mac. But yah, it does crash with Safari on Mac.

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  6. I saw that you were going to be a panelist there, Nupur! I wish I could have attended! Sounds like you had a nice, albeit brief experience -- happy for that! Dale looks cool as a cucumber and so relaxed in his bed, good boy!

    Have a great time with "Z"... will be watching for the roundup :)

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  7. It is so nice to know that you participated in the conference and met other bloggers, shared thoughts, had dinner. it all sounds so nice. thanks for sharing it with us. I am on my way to Kalyn's blog. Its so ignorant of me that I didn't know such thing existed.

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  8. Thats good! Lovely news, Nupur. Makes me sooooooo happy! You rock, lady!

    and finally Dale decided to show up again :) i <3 dale :-D.

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  9. Nupur, it was such a pleasure to meet you and to share a meal and a panel with you. Your participation brought so much to the panel--Kalyn is right about your story bringing tears to everyone's eyes! I hope there will be another opportunity to get together with you again soon.

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  10. hey nupur, great to learn about a "blogging" confreence,,had never come across anything like this,,,especially in India. I am very ahppy to see the search engine. I tried and it helps...and yes the guest post tht im writing for you is n its,,shd be able to send u soon,,raakhee

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  11. Thanks for sharing all your knowledge with us Nupur...i really enjoy reading your blog.
    As for ma pa tofu i thought that this recipe was pretty good
    http://shiokfood.com/notes/archives/000016.html

    i also enjoyed making this tofu recipe and the taste was delightful too .

    http://shiokfood.com/notes/archives/000015.html

    hope you enjoy these dishes as much as i did.
    roshni

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  12. ooooh how exciting, it maust have been great to meet some of your cyber friends

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  13. How exciting that must have been, N! Thanks for sharing your experiences. I did not know that there was such a thing as BlogHer. Whoseever brainchild that was -kudos! I'm over to read about photography coz my photography skills suck -real bad! :)
    Dale looks content and happy, as always!

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  14. I told ya! I knew you would be a super hit! I'm glad it went off well and hopefully we'll see you in other conferences, too! I would have so loved to have been there.

    For authentic Sichuan recipes, look for books by Fuschia Dunlop. She learned Sichuan cooking in China and even if you don't cook from there, they are a huge treat to just read!

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  15. Nupur,
    Congratulations on your participation in this conference - you are indeed a person of multiple talents! I would love to read your speech that so many have raved about. Could you post a transcript perhaps?
    And oh, I just LOVE Dale's coy bride (bridegroom?) look!!
    Kamini

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  16. I can imagine what a wonderful experience it must have been. I never knew anything about Blogher. Thanks for sharing a really informative post Nupur.

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  17. Dhana, the BlogHer folks just told me that I might have to upgrade my Safari, so I;m going to look into that!

    Linda, Dale is relaxed for sure! I am sure we will look that relaxed too, if we had someone feed us and water us and walk us :D

    Sharmi, why ignorant?? The conference is just in its second year! :)

    Musical, Dale tells me he hearts you too, my dear :) he would tell you himself but it is beneath his dignity to type. He would rather dictate his notes to me.

    Susan, I hope we get to meet soon too! It was such a treat getting to sit next to you at dinner!

    Raakhee, glad the google box is useful! Actually, I heard that there was a bloggers' meet in Pune recently, so it is happening in India too!

    Roshni, thank you so so much for the link. That ma po tofu looks so good! I will be making this soon, and will write about it :)

    Saju, yes, you feel like you know these people quite well even though you have never met them before! It is a bit surreal!

    Vani, I know- the people over at BlogHer do such an excellent job of bringing the community together.

    Manisha, I wish you were there too! But I'll still hope to meet you in person soon...
    Thank you so much for the book info. Fuschia Dunlop! What an interesting name! I am definitely going to look for her books.

    Kamini, Dale has his own language: that coy come-hither look *actually* means "What's a dog got to do to be left alone by the paparazzi???" :D

    Priyanka, I'm glad I decided to write about it :) I almost didn't...

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  18. Wow, that is such an honor to be a panelist in an event like that, you must've been a hit there Nupur... Congratulations, looks like you had a swell time!

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  19. Thanks Nupur for sharing this information :)

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  20. Hey Nupur,

    If you can remember me, I am Debjani from NY (Anu's friend;Somdeb's wife) . I like your blog a lot. I sometimes read to try some new dish. Hope you are doing well . I dint know about the blogger's conference. It's great . I don't blog , just reader.

    Good luck,
    Keep posting .

    Debjani

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  21. Hi Nupur,

    that was a really nice post, I enjoyed reading it a lot. I wish there was an on-line VDO from the conference, I d love to see the girls 'for real' :) As for the Mapo Dofu recipe, I make that quite often at home (I ve lived in China for 2 years and learned all kinds of local yummies), so I ll e-mail you a real good 'di dao = true, genuine' recipe :)

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  22. And yes, Se chuan cuisine is the spicest of all China. A great book on that was written (have that one here at home), where the author describes the whole history and meaning of the 麻婆豆腐 (ma po dou fu - Pock-marked wife´s Tofu).

    ...This dish is named after the smallpox-scared wife of a Qing Dynasty restaurateur. She is said to have prepared this spicy, aromatic, oily dish for laborers who laid down their loads of cooking oil to eat lunch on their way to the supermarkets....

    Quoted from 'Land of Plenty' by Fuchsia Dunlop
    http://www.amazon.com/Land-Plenty-Treasury-Authentic-Sichuan/dp/0393051773

    Sending you the recipe :)

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  23. Nupur--I was totally surprised by your comment that this was possibly the spiciest food you'd eaten in your life! I don't really think of myself as someone with a high tolerance for spiciness and while the food at Lao Sze Chuan has a definite kick to it, I don't think of it as excessively fiery.

    On the subject, though [well, sort of], the New York Times magazine has an interesting article on Chinese food in America. Specifically why it's so hard to find authentic Chinese food. I think this restaurant is one of those that definitely does serve authentic Chinese. Here's a link to the article:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/05/magazine/05food-t.html?_r=1&ref=dining&oref=slogin

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  24. Wow you had a great time it seems Nupur. Would love to attend such a conf some day maybe.
    Love it how you contribute so much to the community

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  25. Nupur, it was so lovely to meet you! I really enjoyed your panel at the conference as well, though I didn't have a change to say hello afterwards. Take care.

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  26. Yeyyy I saw your snap of blog conference on Kalyn's Kitchen. It was comforting reading the whole story, must have felt great and exciting meeting all the bloggers. So you live in Chicago? Thanks for sharing Nupur!

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  27. Sig, yes, I did have a great time!

    Suganya, thanks for reminding me to share it :)

    Debjani, of course I remember you! Hope you are doing well! Thanks for reading my blog :)

    Zlamushka, you lived in China? How fun! Thanks for all the cool info!

    Terry, either you have an amazingly high tolerance for spice or I am a wimp...probably both ;) The hunan vegetables and ma po tofu were the only dishes I really ate, and both were fiery!

    Sandeepa, goodness, no, I'm just lucky to have opportunities come my way!

    Gemma, I wish I had more of a chance to speak with you :( thanks for being so nice to me in getting me home safe!

    Padma, no, I live in St. Louis :)

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Thank you for taking the time to say hello!