The idioblog and the inner light (a food and wine blog for one)

Above: This photo of super-sized okra in Arkansas is just one of the many idioblog posts I receive every week.

One of the notions that intrigued me the most when I studied language was that of idiolect: “The linguistic system of one person, differing in some details from that of all other speakers of the same dialect or language,” from the Greek idios, meaning own, personal, private, peculiar, separate, distinct (OED).

In linguistics, the term idiolect is often used to denote a language spoken by only one person. In the twentieth century, for example, as western culture pervaded their nations, elderly South Pacific islanders sometimes found themselves in the peculiar condition of being the last living speakers of a their island’s language. In the moment there is a sole speaker of a language, that language becomes an idiolect.

Poets are very much interested in idiolect: the greatest achievement of any poet is that of creating a new language (at the moment of its creation, it is an idiolect, a language spoken by only one person).

I wonder if other food and wine bloggers share this experience: I often receive emails from authors of what I have come to call “idioblogs,” i.e., blogs read by one sole individual and one individual alone (namely, me). I’m not sure why friends and family — sometimes folks I don’t even know! — feel compelled to author these “blogs for one” but I, for one, enjoy them immensely. (In all fairness, sometimes a few other addressees are included but never more than three. These are not technically idioblogs but rather what I call Three Musketeer blogs, dispatches composed in the spirit of “all for one, one for all.”)

Here are some of the more thrilling reports recently dispatched. From France, New York, Los Angeles, and Arkansas.

Arkansas idioblogger weighs in with:

    check this out….it’s my okra…10’9″…..and still growing!! [see photo above]

A texting idioblogger gives realtime dispatches of his meal at Milos in NYC:

    @ milos right now. Balada and chenin blanc. Super good

    [Thierry] Germain Saumur Chenin Blanc excellent value

One of the more idiosyncratic of the idioblogs is authored by a Hollywood aesthete and epicure. He idioposts anonymously but I think I’m on to his identity:

    Green beans hazelnuts mustard

    Shrimp tacos from La Taquiza; Soave from Suavia (via K&L)

But the top idioblogger is a rock star whose Herculean dispatches are as mimetically inspirational as they are enviable. The following idioblog post was accompanied by the above image of frogs legs.

    there was “K” from Dard et Ribo

    somewhere in there, around the time of the K, the incredible chef, who is from Benin, served up bowls of frogs’s legs cooked in persillade that n***** and i tore into with wild abandon. so delicious and soulful.

    laughs were plentiful, glasses were broken… a real party.

Okra in Arkansas, balada and Saumur in NYC, shrimp tacos and Soave Classico in LA, and frogs’s legs and Dard et Ribo in Brussels… As George Harrison once wrote:

    Without going out of my door,
    I can know all things on earth
    without looking out of my window,
    I can know the ways of heaven.

    The farther one travels
    the less one knows
    the less one really knows.

    Without going out of your door,
    You can know all things on earth
    without looking out of your window,
    you can know the ways of heaven.

    The farther one travels
    the less one knows
    the less one really knows.

    Arrive without travelling,
    See all without looking,
    Do all without doing.

Happy Sunday ya’ll!

Grape porn from around the world (harvest has begun)

Come on, just admit it… We ALL like to look at a little grape porn now and then, don’t we? Even Alder likes him some grape porn.

It’s that time of year again and bloggers have been posting photos of the harvest as it progresses.

My favorite grape porn photo so far is the one above by Wayne over in Friuli.

In Montalcino they began harvesting Moscadello di Montalcino last week and this week they began to pick the Merlot. The Merlot comes in earlier than the Sangiovese. Alessandro posted the photo above: he and his father use the Merlot to make their Super Tuscan Mazzoni. (See, it’s okay to like Merlot, as long as you label it correctly.) So far, so good: it’s looking like a good harvest in Montalcino.

Over in Napa, Vinogirl author of Vinsanity posted this image of Pinot Gris — yes, the red grape that we’ve been taught to think of us a white grape. (Vinogirl has also been coming up with some sassy titles for her posts.)

From the Greek pornos (prostitute) + graph (writer), pornograph means literally someone who describes or writes about prostitutes.

I would hardly call those little berries prostitutes but they sure can be sexy and I’m not sure why, by they do inspire mimetic desire in me (mimesis means imitation in Greek).

For some vintage grape porn, like the image to the left, check out these beautiful plates from Giorgio Gallesio’s Pomona italiana (completed in 1839).


Didn’t George Harrrison write a song called “I, Mimesis, Mine”? Here’s Elliot Smith’s version.

Just some of the reasons I’m so smitten…

From the “it’s Friday so just indulge me” department…

1. She just gets so giddy when you get some good Basque cheese in front of her and some stinky wine (and she’s knock-out gorgeous; to gaze at her makes me feel like Antonioni with Monica Vitti in his camera’s frame). That’s her last week at Terroir Natural Wine Merchant in San Francisco.

2. Her palate is as good as any I’ve ever tasted with and to hear her describe wine is like Petrarch to my ears (that’s her tasting barrel samples of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot in Yountville, CA).

3. She is a pro taster and nothing gets by her. She’s never afraid to ask the tough questions (that’s her tasting with Tadeo at Neyers).

4. She is just the coolest blogger and she will travel to the other side of the world for a wine that she loves (like this post she did about tasting in Savennières).

5. I just can’t imagine my life without her (that’s us in Sausalito).

Tell me, what is my life without your love
Tell me, who am I without you, by my side
Oh tell me, what is my life without your love
Tell me, who am I without you, by my side

What is Life, George Harrison