Everybody eats, so anyone can write about food, right?
By one count there are 13,000 people around the world who consider themselves to be food bloggers. But very few draw enough of an audience to become tastemakers. Even fewer make their livings at it. Matt Armendariz’ blog, “Matt Bites,” draws an average of 150,000 visits from readers each month.
He’s not making much in the way of money, but his cookie recipes have drawn lots of sweet attention. The 41-year-old Long Beach resident talked with NBC LA about blogging – and his South American cookies. Oh, and the time he tried to cook his garden snails.
Q. How did you get into blogging?
A. I had a day job as an art director and graphic designer, and I was on food shoots all the time and getting to see a lot behind-the-scenes with food. So I started blogging on the side to kind of continue the conversation about the people who were making and growing food.
Q. What your first post about?
A. I was trying to harvest snails from my garden to see if they were edible. This opened a Pandora’s box of discovering that garden snails are edible and the process of cleaning them and all of that. I started my garden and for some reason there were tons. They went crazy. So I decided if they were going to eat my greens I was going to eat them. It’s the cycle of life.
Q. How do you clean a garden snail?
A. Gardens have a lot of chemicals. You have to purge the snails over the course of 7 to 10 days by feeding them salad greens that you know are not treated with chemicals.
Q. Are our garden snails the same ones that are used in French cooking? How did you cook them?
A. Yes, they are the same ones. You have to take them out of the shell and you have to clean them up a little and then they were sautéed in garlic and butter.
Q. Were you surprised at the response you’ve been getting from readers?
A. It was something I never expected. I expected it to be friends and family. But slowly over the course of the years it’s gotten some recognition form editors and writers and different types of people. It’s not enough to make a living, but it’s become a giant calling car. It’s part of everything that I do.
Q. If you aren’t making money from your blog, what are you doing to make a living?
A. I’ve moved full time into food photography. That’s what pays the bills, and then the blog lets me share the story of why I do the photography.
Q. Have you ever influenced a food trend?
A. I don’t think I have directly. But collectively as food bloggers we may have pushed the conversation in a direction. For example, food bloggers in Los Angeles were really hot on the Kogi Korean Barbecue truck, and now the Korean fusion cooking is a big thing.
Q. What kind of posts get the most response?
A. Stories that are personal really resonate with people. And people also go crazy for desserts, for anything sweet. I’ll write a cookie recipe and you’ll see the traffic. You’ll see the people coming back looking for that cookie recipe.
Q. What was the best one?
A. I have a recipe for a South American cookie called alfajor. It’s a sandwich cookie with caramel in the middle. People want to try it but they also have a really personal response. People will say,”My grandmother is from Argentina and she always made this.” That cookie got me a guest appearance on the Martha Stewart show.