Chicago Blog Review: Fruit Slinger
By Katie Buitrago
A preface: I have a complicated relationship with fruit. Meaning: I don't like it. Any of it. Not apples, oranges, mangoes, watermelon . . . not even [insert your favorite fruit you can't fathom anyone ever hating here].
I know this is shameful, and bizarre, and horrifically unhealthy. I know. I don't know why I was made like this, and it frustrates me endlessly. In my adult life, I'm trying really hard to rectify the situation. I can occasionally stomach a tangerine. I went on a romantic blackberry picking trip in summery Michigan, and not even bumblebees and sunsets could overcome my aversion to their seedy enfilade. There's just something repugnant about seeds or fibers or little hairs swimming about my mouth, raining on my picnic of tart, juicy delights.
Not so with the Fruit Slinger.
He's one of the lucky ones. The ones who breezily toss oranges in their tote bags for a snack, who chow down on a breakfast of peaches and yogurt. And who actually like it. Their culture is completely baffling to me, but for the sake of journalism, I will take a shot at understanding it.
Blog: Fruit Slinger
Description: A seasonal blog about fruits and farmers' markets.
Substance: The Fruit Slinger is the moniker of Daniel Shumski, a freelance writer and four-year veteran of an orchard in Southwest Michigan. He splits his time between many a farmers' market in Chicago and the fields. Unsurprisingly, he blogs mainly about those two places, recounting the hilarity that farmers' market customers produce ("Is this safe to eat?" is a shockingly common question, apparently) and adventures on the farm. Shumski is an ardent advocate of jams and preserves and he guides us through recipes, cooking insights, and gorgeous pictures of what turns out when he's done. It almost . . . almost makes me want to eat fruit. *twitch*
Style: Shumski's commentary ranges from skewering customers and cookbook writers on their own words to poetic appreciation of something as undeniably beautiful as fruit. He's never quite too mean - it's well-balanced by self-deprecation - or too sappy, and the variety and pacing of the posts keeps even the most inveterate fruit-hater reading. On his cooking trials and triumphs, he leads us through the highs and lows of the process before getting to the recipe. Since blogs are so personal, much of their appeal comes from how much you think you'd like the author or not. Shumski comes off as your quirky, passionate, and funny friend who has some weird-ass job he loves (and that you secretly envy while you decompose inside your office). Much of Fruit Slinger's success comes from how easy it is to like Shumski. How can you hate the fruit guy, even when he makes fun of you?
Tl;dr Score: Zero. Posts are dialogue- and picture-heavy and always an entertaining, fast read.
Commenter Involvement: Fairly low. Most of the chatter is appreciative of a particularly nice photo or recipe.
Linkage: Shumski links widely to other food bloggers and writers, as well as to favorite cookbooks and recipes.
Visual Appeal: Like I said, gorgeous photos. And they just got more gorgeous, because Shumski successfully raised a grand from readers to buy a fancy schmancy DSLR. Maybe I should start one of these blog contraptions . . . Anyway. The layout is simple but logical, with posts organized by season. The right-hand navigation bar helpfully explains the settings and characters to noobs, as well as displays favorite food books of the month and posts by category. Please, Fruit Slinger, don't ever go over to
NSFW: Unless your boss thinks too much about Georgia O'Keefe when he sees this peach, you're fine.
Bottom Line: If you're turned off by the "farm to table" snootery of Slow Foodists or celeb chefs, give it another chance with the Fruit Slinger. He's unpretentious, funny, and delivers a welcome blast of summer-friendly food porn on a daily basis. He may have even convinced me to venture away from the vegetable side of the farmers' market.
Posted on August 6, 2009
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