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More cooks say 'blog appétit!'

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It used to be that, when you needed a recipe, you pulled out an index card, a cookbook, or the latest issue of Gourmet magazine. But increasingly, chefs and amateurs alike are turning to a new medium as a culinary resource: the online food blog.

Short for "web log," a blog is a website written like a journal with regularly posted entries. As the Internet continues to lure self-publishers, blogs have proliferated in the past few years. About 9 percent of today's Internet users have created blogs, according to a recent survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Of those, about 10 percent deal with food.

Food blogs allow anyone with time and a computer to cook up and share their unedited thoughts with the online universe. Their number has swelled to at least 3,000 in the past few years, says Paul McCann, a blogger and judge for this year's 2005 Food Blog Awards, a competition that's in its second year.

"The explosion of food blogs is a result of exploding interest in food and cooking," says Clark Wolf, a food and restaurant consultant in New York. The success of the TV Food Network is an example of Americans' growing interest in culinary arts. "People are more comfortable with online searching, and the natural conduit for information is a blog," Mr. Wolf says.

Food - with its universal appeal and blend of art and chemistry - lends itself to blogging. Just as neighbors share recipes, bloggers can post recipe tips and recommendations, as well as flops behind the stove.

"Food is a topic everyone can connect with," says Derrick Schneider, a computer programmer from Oakland, Calif., who started his own blog, obsessionwithfood.com, in 2003 and is also a judge for the Food Blog Awards. "There's a little bit of a food writer in all of us."

Mr. Schneider launched his blog at the urging of friends who, he says, grew "tired of me clogging up their in-boxes with e-mails about great restaurants." Since then, he's cultivated quite a following, with about 2,700 people visiting his site daily.

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