Looking Back at 2020 on the Blog

Happy New Year to you all. I hope everyone had a safely podded or distanced passage from 2020 to 2021. And, of course, I hope 2021 will not be like 2020 for too long. Among our New Year’s Day rituals is the eating of tteokguk (the Korean rice cake soup) and dumplings. The making of these is the missus’ department—I participate heavily in the eating—which means I have time this morning for my own annual ritual gazing at my navel or my look back at the past year on the blog.

I have to confess that when the stay at home orders started back in March I wasn’t sure that the blog was going to continue for very much longer. I had a few weeks worth of whisky reviews lined up but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to muster the motivation to keep going once those ran out—and it didn’t seem there’d be any reviews possible of restaurant meals. Of course, as invariably happens, sticking with routines turned out to be a way of managing the uncertain.

For readers stuck at home, reading blogs seemingly became more of their routine than previously as well. The number of page views and visitors on the blog last year went up dramatically over the previous year.

Where did they come from? Well, this remains a predominantly American blog in terms of its readership with almost 80% of page views from the US. The UK was in second place as always. I was pleased to see India move into third place for the first time.

Top 10 Locations of Visitors

  1. USA
  2. UK
  3. India
  4. Canada
  5. Germany
  6. Australia
  7. Vietnam
  8. Netherlands
  9. Singapore
  10. Hong Kong

Where did people come from in terms of “referrals”? Facebook continues to be the dominant single source of traffic—this is largely thanks to various Twin Cities food groups and in particular the support of Mike McGuinness and the excellent Twin Cities East Metro Foodies group. Google links in general are close behind Facebook; Twitter is a very distant third. And my thanks to those who continue to link to my posts on blogs and forums.

What did these people read? Mostly things to do with food.

Top 30  Posts by Viewership

  1. Pandemic Takeout 17: Beirut
  2. Black (Caviar) Dal
  3. Pandemic Takeout 12: Kumar’s
  4. A Highly Subjective Ranking of Indian Restaurants in the Twin Cities
  5. Pandemic Takeout 10: Ted Cook’s 19th Hole
  6. Col. E.H. Taylor, Bourbon and the Problem of Tradition
  7. Regional Indian Cookbooks, An Incomplete Guide
  8. At the Lahore Karhai (More Poems About Food and Drink)
  9. Chana Masala, Take 2
  10. Glendronach Confusion or (What is a Single Cask?)
  11. Red Bean Curry with Coconut Milk
  12. Sakura (St. Paul)—my last pre-lockdown restaurant review
  13. Indian-eeesh!: The Marketing
  14. The Twin Cities Food Scene (as Seen Through Where the Star Tribune’s Food Critics Have Been Eating)
  15. Indian (-ish) and the Question of Indian American Identity
  16. Pandemic Takeout 01: El Triunfo
  17. Ghugni: Chickpeas in a Bengali Style
  18. Thai Street Market (St. Paul)
  19. The Food Commandments
  20. Pandemic Takeout 09: Simplee Pho
  21. Magic Noodle (St. Paul)
  22. Shorshe-Baata Maach
  23. A Reading Journal of the Plague Year (Aparna)
  24. Pandemic Takeout 31: Indian Masala
  25. Kumar’s Mess and the Changing Face of Indian Food in the Twin Cities Metro
  26. Black Bean Curry with Potatoes
  27. Grand Szechuan 2019
  28. Krungthep Thai (St. Paul)
  29. On the New (and Old) Curry Denialism or We’re Here, We’re Brown, We Eat Curry, Calm Down!
  30. American Food Media’s “Diversity” Problem

Or 13 posts about restaurants, 6 recipes, 7 other food-centered posts, 2 posts about books and only 2 posts about whisky, none of them reviews. Nonetheless, in 2021 there will continue to be three whisky/booze reviews per week. The biggest shock on the list though is that a post about a poem (“At the Lahore Karhai”) is in the top 10—if anyone has an explanation, I’d love to hear it. I also plan to continue to publish more posts about books even though those are otherwise about as popular as my whisky reviews appear to be. I will soon have the sequel to my regional Indian cookbooks post and I hope to dragoon the usual complement of friends into writing about what they read in 2020. On the food front, the weekly pandemic takeout meal write-ups will continue (though I hope not into the summer) as will the usual weekly recipe. Odds and ends will be squeezed in somewhere.

The Glendronach single casks post dropped to the bottom of the Top 10 this year. More accurately, it was well outside the top 20 for most of the year before rising back up the charts as presumably the link was posted to yet another whisky forum somewhere for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised to see the Col. E.H Taylor post zoom into the Top 10—this I think is because it was added to a Reddit list of links on whisky writing related to BLM in some way (alas, there’s not many such pieces). Two other perennially highly-read posts plummeted down the rankings: the pineapple chutney recipe and my review of Under Bridge Spicy Crab in Hong Kong. I never understood why/how that review developed such a strong following but I have to confess I feel an unexpected sadness at its very belated demise.

Okay, since I’m bored, let’s parse the readership a bit more by category.

Top 10 Whisky/Booze Reviews

  1. Jameson Irish Whiskey, Early-Mid 1980s
  2. Springbank 12 CS, Batch 19
  3. Heaven Hill 9 (Archives)
  4. Vallein Tercinier Lot 70 (for Flask)
  5. Laphroaig Cairdeas 2020
  6. The Secret Islay (The Whisky Shop)
  7. Longrow 18, 2019 Release
  8. Lous Pibous 22, 1996 (L’Encantada)
  9. Hazelburn 14, 2004
  10. Pasquet Lot 62, Cask 1 (for Serious Brandy)

Top 10 Recipes

  1. Black (Caviar) Dal
  2. Chana Masala, Take 2
  3. Red Bean Curry with Coconut Milk
  4. Ghugni: Chickpeas in a Bengali Style
  5. Shorshe-Baata Maach
  6. Black Bean Curry with Potatoes
  7. Pineapple Chutney
  8. White Bean Stew with Cumin and Ginger
  9. Rajma, Take 3
  10. Rajma: Beans in a North Indian Style

Clearly the increased publicity Rancho Gordo received in 2020 followed through in my readership as well: 8 of the top 10 recipes were of things made with Rancho Gordo beans. Should Steve pay me or should I pay him? (Actually, it’s possible that I might do something more formal with Rancho Gordo soon; more on this soon.)

Speaking of money, I enabled WordPress’s ads engine on the blog at the end of the summer. Even though most of you bastards have your adblockers turned on these ads are generating enough money to pay for the blog’s hosting costs and so I hope those of you who don’t have your adblockers turned on will be willing to endure them in 2021 as well.

What else am I interested to see in 2021 that might make it onto the blog? Well, I will continue to follow and write annotated reviews of writing on South Asian food. In the past I’ve restricted these lists to (mostly) pieces published in Western outlets; in 2021 I will be (more fully) including things published everywhere. I may also start posting occasional reviews of cookbooks, more likely older books than new. I’m also curious to see how two big seismic events in 2020 in the food and whisky writing worlds will play out moving forward: the long overdue reckoning around race in the American (and British) food world and the long overdue reckoning around gender in the whisky writing/reading world. I may have more/something to say about these issues in 2021 as well.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this look inside my navel. The usual look ahead to the month’s reviews on the blog will come tomorrow. In the meantime do let me know what you are looking forward to food and drink and life-wise in 2021.




3 thoughts on “Looking Back at 2020 on the Blog

  1. I’ll echo my thanks, as well.

    And thanks for the reminder to remove the ad-blocker for this site. I did it for the test earlier last year but I guess a restart installed it again. I’ll have to figure out how to allow scripts on this page without enabling them on every page.


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