Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Six Years Into A Completely Unreasonable Hobby: Why I Still Write About Food And Eating


Food is only what you make of it.

I fear, of course, that I have made way too much.  HowChow started because I couldn't find food when I started coming to Ellicott City.  As I have said before, I came for a woman.  Mrs. HowChow works some weekends, so I had entire days hanging alone and driving around to find something to cook for dinner.

HowChow started irregularly.  I found cool places, both markets and restaurants.  We had fun checking out new options, and I wrote some test posts before I even made the blog public.  That seems to have been in early 2008.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I had just stumbled on stuff like Produce Galore's corned beef sandwich and figured that was worth telling people.

I went public in June 2008.  Barely anyone knew for months.  Most of the comments on those early posts were from people writing in 2009.  JessieX was running a HocoLoco Girl site then with restaurant listings, and I linked a whole bunch of my posts from HocoLoco.  The crop of existing bloggers -- including Columbia Talk and others who stopped regular posts years ago -- taught me how the new medium could be full of links and compliments and letting people know when someone else started to write.

I'm indebted to them because the best part about HowChow has been how much I learned about Howard County.  Mrs. HowChow and I have wandered from one end to the other following comments about everything from pick-your-own fruit to new Chinese, from taco trucks to Korean soups.

When I started, there were regularly newspaper articles with punk ledes on the theme of "The suburbs are just full of chain restaurants, and you'd never expect to find the [fill in the blank] that I discovered for you."  I feel like that has disappeared.

Maybe that's because so much of the papers has vanished over the same years.  But I think perceptions changed, in part, because people have talked on HowChow, Yelp, Chowhound and other sites about the great options out here.  I certainly appreciate all the suggestions.  I have years of "Best Of Howard County" posts, but I still have an entire list of places that I haven't checked out yet.  Milita's Tacos on U.S. 1 needs to be my next stop, thanks to raves from Kevlar51.

Thanks, in fact, to everyone who leaves comments or sends me emails.  I love tips and suggestions.  Thanks especially to Dan, Nikki, Adam, Min and the other folks who have written guest posts with their own views.  The Trolling posts make me happy every time.  It's those connections -- and their suggestions to find great oysters, tasty egusi, or the beauty of fried chicken and house-made black-bean noodles -- that make me grateful that I have had six years to blog.

Food has helped me explore the place that I live, and it has connected me to all kinds of new people. That has made much more from this completely unreasonable hobby than I ever expected.

23 comments:

Elizabeth Brunetti said...

CONGRATS! You're connection with the Howard County food scene is admirable and has that world up to countless county residents and enthusiasts. THANK YOU for your dedication!

Jen Blacker said...

Congratulations!

Amber F. said...

Congrats on 6 years! Thanks for doing this, I almost never check out a new restaurant without looking it up on HowChow first =)

Beth Bracaglia - Simply Organized said...

Congratulations! I've enjoyed reading your posts for years. Keep it going!

emkenton said...

We moved from HowCo to MoCo two years ago but I still read your blog posts faithfully as I have for many years! I was just telling someone the other day about your site and about how I did one of the earliest "Trolling on Tuesdays" posts. They seemed to think that made me a celebrity and, you know what? I'll take it! :-)

Thank you so much for all the years of what might seem "unreasonable" but absolutely has been a treasure for all of us!!

Adam said...

It's a testament to how well read and respected this blog is when you see the amount of places that advertise HoCo's endorsement. Likewise, I can't count the number of times I run into people somewhere and when we get to talking about how we found out about a place, it came from reading HowChow. Thanks for all the posts over the years!

Rob said...

Thanks for doing what you do. HowChow is a regular stop in my daily browsing. You are on my bookmarks toolbar.

And a late "welcome back." You had me worrying when you were away.

Katie said...

happy blogiversary, howchow!

EGKate said...

Congratulations on six years! I stopped working in Howard County three years ago, but I still follow your blog because of all the great places you find. I was definitely one of those people saying "ugh Columbia is nothing but chains" before I found this blog, but now I occasionally make the half hour drive out to HoCo just to try something you've posted about. Thank you for proving me wrong!

nate said...

Thanks, Mr. Chow. You intruced me to pepperjacks, chicknfriends, and most recently Phubs. All fantastic.

The Unmanly Chef said...

I've been a reader for years and have always enjoyed your posts. It's always great to see a place we've wanted to try, show up on your blog.

Yaofu said...

I have been a regular for a while and your site is actually among the first five favorites I saved on my browser. You introduced me into many new restaurants. Thanks!

Jessie Newburn said...

Ever-grateful. You've added so much to my experience of Howard County, HowChow!

Brendela said...

Congratulations on six years and a hearty thank you for helping me fill my rumbling stomach with delicious food on more than one occasion. Please keep up the good work and we'll keep enjoying the feasts of HoCo!

kevlar51 said...

Big Congrats! Your blog has completely changed they way my office eats lunch. Instead of one by one each of us strolling down to the crummy deli-with-a-monopoly, you've opened our eyes and bellies to a gastronomical wonderland :)

Anonymous said...

Cheers! You're doing great!

Kattrina said...

Thanks for six great years HowChow!! I've been reading your blog for years and I love all the places you find. I definitely look up restaurants on your site before trying them and try specific places you suggest. I've told so many people about your site and encouraged many to start branching out to new restaurants. Keep up the amazing work!

KateA said...

Congrats! I love Yelp, but HowChow is always my 1st stop for reviews and recommendations for food in HoCo. I have a food tip for you- if you've never been you should check out the Clarksville Picnic on June 28th. The dinner tent has all you can eat fried chicken & ham, cucumber salad, red beets, succotash, and apple sauce. I know you don't typically review fairs and festivals, but it's always my favorite meal of the year.

duanestclair said...

Congrats on 6 years of blogging. I always check HowChow before trying a new restaurant. You are a treasure for we "foodies."

Scenemaker said...

And for those who didnt know, Chipotle Grill is planned to for the corner of St Johns Lane and Route 40 in Ellicott City. It will be a while before the old gas station is removed and construction for the restaurant to take place. No time schedule (as of yet).

RDAdoc said...

Congrats!! Before I check out any new restaurant I look to see what HowChow thinks of it. It's been lots of fun reading HowChow and occasionally writing a guest post.

Karen Lynn said...

What a fabulous community you have created based on sharing your love of good food. Congrats and thanks!

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