Friday, February 17, 2006

The Cheese Sandwich Chronicles #3: Cheese Sandwiches are Like Food Blogger Friends, You Can Never Have Too Many!


Just for the record, despite what you may have read, it was not actually me who came up with the idea of food bloggers all making cheese sandwiches as a protest against the Pete Wells article saying most food blogs are no more interesting than cheese sandwiches. Paul, html master and Food Blog List Keeper was the one who thought of making the sandwiches. The idea was quickly seconded by Mrs. D., and Sam, who jokingly proposed that we send half of our cheese sandwiches to Mr. Wells. I, of course, chimed in that I thought it was a great idea, as did others. Kitchenmage had the idea for the Technorati tag saying "Pete Wells Loves Cheese Sandwiches, which may be snarky or simply fun, depending on your point of view. This was all being posted in the comments on Food Blog S'cool and soon ideas were flying around like hotcakes. It was a revolution in search of a leader when Paul finally selected Thursday as the day for the sandwiches to start to appear.

After that things started happening quickly. It's true that I was more angry than most, since one of the blogs quoted without permission was mine, and since the quote referred to Herb Bloggers, it was easy enough for people to identify me (something I'm quite sure Pete Wells didn't realize, since I doubt he read enough of my blog to even understand the quote.) Frankly, I was insulted. My blog may not be magazine quality, but plenty of people read it every day. I posted first my snarky post (seen by over 300 people in a few hours, but now gone forever, except as a broken link on Technorati), and then my post with the bite out of the cheese sandwich declaring cheese sandwich day. Random cheese sandwiches started popping up on blogs. Creative sandwich maker Magic Tofu produced an entire new blog devoted to cheese sandwiches. My ever talented brother Rand designed some great icons.

Within the space of a day, you could see some mighty delicious looking sandwiches at I'm Mad and I Eat and Seriously Good. At Belly-Timber, there were cheese sandwich rumors, and then later, actual cheese sandwiches. The inimitable Ilva managed to sneak a cheese sandwich into Weekend Herb blogging. There were also commenters who weren't eating cheese yet at Food Musings and an announcement in support of Cheese Sandwich Day at The Feast Crusade.

Matt Bites was inspired to create a mission statement for his blog. Eddie at Deep End Dining proved that fame has not gone to his head, which hasn't been true of all the blogs receiving favorable notice. Major aggregator blogs started picking up the story like Blogher, The Food Section, and Slashfood.

By Monday, Something in Season had a another tasty looking sandwich posted, with delicious commentary too. A fairly new blog, Tummy Treasure, proved to have a good understanding of the food blog community spirit.

As the week unfolded more cheese sandwich sightings occured. Some were subtle homages to cheese and bread, such as Cream Puffs in Venice and A Traveler's Lunchbox. Breakfast with Pandora offered Cheese Sandwich Commentary rather than sandwiches, and Here and There had a little of both. The Strong Buzz revealed that she had also been maligned by Pete Wells, and gave him a pretty good scolding.

A few talented food bloggers like Cookiecrumb and Lex Culinaria even managed to get a little cheese sandwich action on Valentine's day. Lovingly, of course. Alicat from Something So Clever ate her sandwich a bit early, a delicious looking Edam and White Cheddar Panino. Sam finished her cheese sandwich early too, also announcing she'll be taking a break. (Best to you Sam. Come back soon.)

Gourmetish had some great commentary about the upcoming day. Because every protest needs a good t-shirt, Kitchenmage offered Cheese Sandwich Day t-shirts, later modified when Rand generously agreed to her request to use the cheese sandwich icons.

Finally Cheese Sandwich Day arrived. Of course Thursday comes sooner in some places than others, and one of the first sandwiches I saw was at A Veggie Venture. (Ok, I confess my good blog friend Alanna tipped me off.) Cheese sandwiches turned out to be global, as Sailu's Food cooked one up in India, Nami - Nami made some in Scotland, Anne's Food delivered a yummy looking grilled cheese in Sweden, and Stephanie made me laugh at The Feast Crusade in Singapore. In other parts of the world, the talented Mae cooked up cheese sandwiches at Rice and Noodles in the Channel Islands, and Ilva made a beautiful panino at Lucullian Delights in Italy.

Beautifully photographed and executed cheese sandwiches were seen at Stephen Cooks, Gluten free ones at the home of Karina, the Gluten Free Goddess, and a lovely grilled cheddar and tomato at One Hot Stove. A yummy sandwich mentioning Weekend Herb Blogging appeared from The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz.

Some unique blogs had their own twist, like Basic Juice offering the perfect wine to go with your cheese sandwich. ReMARKable Palate made a simple statement, and Running with Tweezers shows that she can do more than cook. Hungry in Hogtown had a cheese sandwich that just happened to be ready to be posted. Something In Season wisely pointed out that most of us can recognize a tasty blog when we see it, reminding us he ate his cheese sandwich earlier in the week.

Apartment Therapy didn' t make a sandwich but commented on the fact Pete Wells didn't recognize any actual cooking blogs in the article, and Something to Chew On offered support to all the cheese sandwich bloggers. One of the most interesting posts I've seen on the topic appeared at The Fumbling Foodie, where Dave compared magazine writers today to the railroad barons who refused to believe that the automobile would bring real change.

More support, and a delicious looking cheese sandwich came from Nika's Culinaria. Another sandwich appeared at The Unemployed Cook, who says she's only been blogging a few weeks. Cookiecrumb had a delicious looking raclette-inspired sandwich. Tummy Treasure contributed a second cheese sandwich post, with a grilled cheese that looked great.

Later in the day, a new twist on grilled cheese, Grilled Macaroni and Cheese came from Fran of Flavors. Patti from Adventures in Food and Wine is studying furiously for a nursing exam, but she took time out to make Grilled Vermont White Cheddar on Homemade Bread. Michele at Chef Michele's Adventures created a cheddar on whole wheat grilled cheese. Once Upon a Feast offered an assortment of grilled cheese loveliness. The Chocolate Lady at In Mol Araan researched the cheese sandwich in Yiddish publishing history.

A fun blog I hadn't seen before, Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once made cheese crackers in solidarity with the cheese sandwich eaters. Jennifer at Weekly Dish makes no excuses for writing about the Philly CHEESE Steak sandwich she had for dinner. At Tigers and Strawberries, the always eloquent Barbara had some comments that food magazine editors should be sure to read. The Fat Free Vegan went to extra lengths for her *cheese* sandwich.

Kayak Soup had a grilled cheese which was way above average. Another out-of-the-ordinary cheese sandwich was the Panini Caprese at Dispensing Happiness. A very well-written piece on the cheese sandwich furor, quoting (with permission) a number of bloggers, appeared in Paper Palate. A Few of My Favorite Things had a photo of a cheese sandwich that I wanted to just take a bite of! Not to bore you to death Mr. Wells, but Milk and Honey reported on what she had for lunch. Stephanie at The Feast Crusade breaks new ground in the food blogging world by telling us what she had for a midnight snack.

Ok, by now I am seriously losing track, but Gourmetish now has made and shared two sandwiches, first a delicious-looking Grilled Colby Jack on Rye, and then a grilled cheese on foccacia. At Culinarily Obsessed, Jaay eats her sandwich before she has a chance to photograph it, but she still dishes up some great commentary. A fun blog called 1x umruehren bitte
delivers some politically neutral cheese commentary and a great looking sandwich too; the blog is written by Zorra, who is Swiss, but living in Andulucia, Spain.

A fun find sent by my friend Alanna, an actual Cheese Sandwich Blog. The writer, Stephanie, apparently didn't know about cheese sandwich day, but I still thought this was too good not to share. Saturday morning, my sister Pam reported on our family blog that she was reading my blog and had a sudden urge to make a cheese sandwich! Cooking Vintage posted one of her favorite sandwiches from childhood, Jarlsberg on whole wheat with spinach and mustard.

Magic Tofu has been very busy all weekend with Paper Chef #15, but still managed to create a masterful sandwich at Slurp and Burp, featuring asparagus, proscuitto ham, gruyere, and a mustard flavored bechamel. Also on Saturday, Paul, who originally came up with the cheese sandwich idea, showed his version of the sandwich, Havarti and Cornish Game Hen on Rustic Sourdough. (And yes, he had it for lunch.) Jonski Blogski does a great post on Cheesy Sandwich, Grilled, then follows it up with Cheese Sandwich, Redeemed. Saltshaker joins the fun with Viva, LaCheese Sandwich, in which he reports on how he has accidentally joined the cheese sandwich movement.

ReMARKable Palate discussed Cheese Sandwich Day, along with an interview with Sephardic Cooking expert Janet Amateau, on his weekly podcast. I thought his analysis of the reaction by food bloggers was very thorough and fair. (Also, Mark, thanks for featuring Kalyn's Kitchen in the podcast!)

On Sunday the cheese sandwich posts were still going up. Elizabeth from Etherwork.net blogged about a wonderful sandwich she had eaten while traveling and written about in her travel journal. Now she plans to recreate it at home. LAist gives a nice write up of the cheese sandwich protest, which it calls Glossy Mags vs. Foodblogs. (To illustrate their point, they included Magic Tofu's happy and sad faced cheese sandwiches.) In New York City, The Hungry Rose found a restaurant specializing in cheese sandwiches and ordered one, then reminisced about the cheese sandwiches of the past. Claudia from Fool for Food sends a cheese sandwich post in German.

On Sunday, Mrs. D. at Belly-Timber posted 'Mighty Cheese Warriors: An Historical Vignette' in which she visits the 2440th anniversary of Cheese Sandwich Day in the land of Gastroblogia. Don't miss this incredible and imaginative post! All I can say is Bravo!

After the dust is starting to settle, I Was Just Really Very Hungry shares some insightful thoughts on the whole cheese sandwich saga. The Gallumphing Gourmand finds he is still thinking about cheese sandwiches and recreates a recipe from childhood. At Spittoon Extra, Andrew creates a unique sandwich with fried haloumi layered with spinach, watercress, and rocket, served in whole wheat pitta and doused with lemon rind and olive oil dressing.

Early in the next week, Ed Charles from Tomato announced a new blog event springing out of Cheese Sandwich Day : Post and EaT Everything Week End Lame Leftovers (Pete Wells). Designed to promote the recycling of leftovers, the new event is sure to help folks use leftover comments on the Blog vs. Mag topic. Paint Brush Poet published Ode to a Cheese Sammitch, the first cheese sandwich poem I've seen. Matt at Matt Bites created an amazing cheese sandwich magazine cover.

Even later in the week, food bloggers are still making cheese sandwiches. At One Whole Clove, Sarah Lou creates a fabulous looking Garlic Bread, Merguez Sausage and Cheddar Cheese Panini. Truly worth blogging about! The Web Sorceress Cooks also made some very tasty looking mini-cheese sandwiches, which she had for dinner! Cookbook 411 thanks Pete Wells and other bloggers who had photos of great cheese sandwiches for inspiring her to order the El Gaupo at the Honey Hole in Seattle.

By the following weekend, Vanessa of She Craves was forced to pay a visit to her doctor, where she was diagnosed with auto-Petewellesian Bloggorhea. The prescription was no more blogging, but Vanessa cured herself with a Grilled Brie Sandwich with Ginger Preserves.

By the following week, CBS News had picked up the story on their online site, and Magic Tofu was kind enough to alert me here.

(Edit - even years later people were hearing about the Cheese Sandwich controversy, and Wandering Chopsticks sends me a cheese sandwich post with a note that people really do care what she's having for lunch!)

(I'll be adding more whenever people let me know about them. There is no time deadline for this, cheese sandwiches taste good anytime! Please don't feel slighted if I missed you, just send an e-mail and I'll add you in.)

All that brings us to my last cheese sandwich, the one you saw at the beginning of this post, and an evaluation. I had been planning to go to the store on the way home Wednesday and get some cheese and bread for the last sandwich. As it turned out, I was sick that day, and Salt Lake was having a huge snowstorm to boot. On Thursday, home sick, I decided just to make the sandwich from what I had around. I toasted a piece of the Asiago Cheese bread I used for the first sandwich. I had half of a piece of grilled salmon in the fridge, so I broke that up with a fork, mixed in a couple of tablespoons of some finely diced red onion and some mayo, and spread it on the sandwich. Then I sprinkled on some grated cheddar and monterey jack cheese and put the sandwich in the toaster oven. I cooked it about 10 minutes, then turned it to broil and browned the cheese. It was delicious, and yes, Pete, I did have it for lunch.

For The Cheese Sandwich Chronicles I made more cheese sandwiches than I had for at least a year previously. But for the real life cheese sandwich controversy, I made more connections with new food bloggers, or people I had barely known about, than I had ever thought possible in such a short time. Finding out that we all like cheese sandwiches was fun, but even more fun was finding out how we all support and care about each other. I know this has not been a universally fun period for everyone. I certainly had my feelings hurt by a few comments I saw around the blogs, particularly one that said I should have just edited my blog so people wouldn't have known it was me who was dissed by Pete Wells. But for me at least, something that started out very bad ended up to be very good. That's the part I will remember when I think of this day.

Some people will never get it. What was so offensive about the article Pete Wells wrote was that it presumed that only certain people's creations and efforts have validity. He appoints himself as the metacritic of the entire internet of food blogs, somehow entitled to decide which blogs are good and which are bad. And even worse, he feels that if he decides a blog is bad, he has the right to ridicule it, even though many others like that blog, and may even prefer it to some blogs he chooses as being superior.

Listen up Pete Wells, and all the rest of you in the mainstream media who think you can still tell people what to think, what to like, and what to read. We are creating our own media now, and supporting each other in doing it. People who love food are united through the internet in a way they never could have been united through cookbooks, magazines, or newspaper food articles. The incredible expressions of support I've received through this experience from people I never dreamed had read my humble little food blog is proof of that. The world has been changed forever by this new-found ability for people to connect at a very human level with others thousands of miles away who share the same opinions, passions, and ideas.

We will never go back.

Postscript:

If I'd known it might be fun to make a record of this in real time, I'd have done a better job of keeping track of when things happened, so forgive me if I'm off on the times. And if anyone wonders how I'm finding the time to record all this for food blog posterity, I'm actually home sick nursing a nasty cold, one of the perils of teaching cute but germy small children. I know I missed some people, possibly even some I knew about, so please forgive me if I did. If I missed you and you commented on or made cheese sandwiches, even after the official day has ended, send me an e-mail with your link: kalynskitchen AT comcast DOT net. I'll add them in as quickly as I can.
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47 comments:

  1. If I missed you, please don't take it personally, and do send the link by e-mail (kalynskitchen AT comcast DOT net) rather than leaving it here. Links left in the comments screw up my template in Internet Explorer and I end up having to delete them. Thanks.

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  3. Ok, I will say it one more time nicely, please don't leave links in the comments. Send me your link by e-mail if I missed you.

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  4. Hi Kalyn, I sent you an email.

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  5. Kalyn, thank you for this fantastic round-up. That's a huge amount and variety of cheese sandwiches - very impressive!

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  6. What a well-written and well-thought round up of the week. This week I discovered new blogs that I hadn't visited before, all thanks to the humble cheese sandwich. While the cheese sandwich event started as a way to get back, it really turned into something much, much more.

    I'm very proud to say that I am a part of a fantastic food blogging community.

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  7. Great three posts of sandwiches Kalyn! Thanks for taking the time to do (and keep doing) a wonderful round up.

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  8. You're the famous one now, Kalyn. Congratulations on turning "sour grapes" into Champagne.

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  9. Amazing posts, and how I love cheese sandwich.. BTW I came across three cheese sandwich recipes today when i was bloghopping for my weekend Curry Mela ( Like carnival, we call carnivals mela )
    BTW Do you still run the weekend herb blogging.. i have blogged about a herb

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  11. One more time, please don't leave links in the comments. It bounces my sidebar down in Internet Explorer. Send me an e-mail
    (kalynskitchen AT comcast DOT net).

    Thanks,
    Kalyn

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  12. Wow - what a terrific round-up! I discovered several [new to me] blogs. The spirit of community is palpable. Well done!

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  13. A great wrap-up, Kalyn. Thanks again for the mention. It's always nice to be visited by new folks.

    And, you make the best cheese sandwiches. :)

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  14. Wow. I'm *almost* speechless!
    What a major job, Kalyn.
    I'm gonna be poking around a whole lot of blogs today!

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  15. Kalyn-Thank you so much for keeping track of all of us. Lots of new sites to visit now--so fun & interesting. Must give you a positive eval w/no* and no "needs improvement". (HeHeHe-teacher talk)

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  16. Yesterday, I was searching for great food blogs and saw that so many people were posting cheese sandwiches. Thanks for posting this, it's very informative, as well as an entertaining read.

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  17. Kalyn, i'm a bit late, but my post will be up tomorrow. sorry! I had an exam, but it's finished!

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  18. Thanks for the mention, Kayln. I am flattered by your comment.

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  19. Hi Kalyn,

    Thanks for this. I just read a great post over at Fat Free Vegan, http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/ that I think you'll enjoy.

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  20. Wow--What a write-up! Great job, and I hope you feel better soon!

    P.S. Love the Costceau thing. Kind of like Target pronounced like Tarzhay...everything is fancier when it's French...

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  21. Am getting really annoyed with Blogger as my comments keep disappearing! OK, here goes nothing ...

    I hope you get well soon, Kalyn! Thanks so much for such an amazing round-up. Glad I could make you laugh. Intentionally.

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  22. I am totally blown away by the roundup, Kalyn.

    And I agree with Eddie--you turned it around. You took negativity and with a creative twist, made it positive.

    That is magic.

    Rock on, lady!

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  23. First, Peter Wells doesn't have to get your permission to quote your blog. Second, he does have the right to ridicule it. It's called Freedom of Expression. You obviously don't believe in that right because you're going to delete this comment as you have any others that disagree with you or aren't positive. I think it is childish and hypocritical to go on and on about this guy's article and how mean he is because he hurt your feelings and in the same breath tear him a new one. And the whole cheese sandwich day thing just shows you have way too much time on your hands.

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  24. Dear Brian,
    If you actually read the comments you would see that the only ones I deleted were ones that contained links. Since you don't share the spirit of community that so many food bloggers are feeling, or have any understanding of why we are expressing them, I'm not sure why you felt the need to express your thoughts here, but I hope you feel better now.
    Peace.
    Kalyn

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  25. Kalyn --

    Who alerted the Brits? In today's London Telegraph there is a piece on panini, all with wonderful cheese fillings. Read 'em and eat:
    1. Dolcelatte (gorgonzola) with roasted dark mushrooms.
    2. Mascarpone with rocket (arugula), the cheese mixed with Parmigiano and black pepper.
    3. Taleggio with grilled red and yellow peppers (peppers cooked with olive oil and garlic.

    Yum!

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  26. Kalyn, I just received my F&W in the mail yesterday. I've already re-read it three times or more and each time I get REALLY mad so I have to hide the magazine. I was wondering if anyone has written a letter to the editor yet? (thanks for the links, btw.)

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  27. Great writeup. I really love this food blogging community.

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  28. Ugh. I just read some of the negative comments and am appalled. Your writing is filled with humor, wit, and intelligence. Cheese Sandwich day is clever and a creative way to deal with poor judgement and writing by a professional journalist. Those who disagree need to re-read the article. Oh, and I find it interesting that most of the folks who disagree with us aren't bloggers.

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  29. I'm a little late, especially if I'm getting credit for all of this.

    I'll admit, I've been having trouble with what I want to say about the article, but I'm glad so many others have spoken up.

    I think we all inferred from the article that if a blog didn't have broad appeal, it was unworthy of being read by anyone. I have major issues with the clueless 'reporting' he offered on food blogs in general, but I don't think he was saying that. At least I hope not, or he's going to get a cheese sandwich rammed down his throat.

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  30. gad, I am soooo behind.... I will get a sandwich posted up... soon on spittoonextra

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  31. wOw Kalyn, I knew alot of people would participate, but this is AMAZING!! And look how many comments you are getting on a daily basis. If that doesn't prove Pete Wells is outta his damn mind I dunno what does!!

    You go girl!! lol

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  32. Unbelievable job in doing the round up given how many people have responded.

    I do hope you feel better soon so you can get back to those nasty germy children and more blogging.

    Thanks for sharing (everything but the cold)

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  33. Pete Wells cheesed off the wrong people (yes, that pun was intended). It's good to see so many people out there support you, including me.

    You even get a mention in this week's Virtual Recipe Club. I'll be posting it tonight.

    Happy Blogging!

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  34. Glad to see soo many cheese eating bloggers!

    Cheers to the sandwich brigade.

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  35. This cheese sandwich thing is amazing. One of my regular readers (unbelievably, there are a few!) described yet another fabulous cheese sandwich in a comment to the cheese sandwich post.

    -Elizabeth

    P.S. Thanks for adding me to the roundup, Kalyn.

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  36. Wonderful writeup, and I'm thrilled at the gargantuan show of solidarity. And I agree with Eddie - great to see you turning that bad press into so much champagne! ;)

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  37. As a show of solidarity with all who thought Wells's article was half-baked, irresponsible, and as dull as the kinds of blogs he was making fun of (not yours, Kalyn), I love cheese sandwiches now -- and I don't even like cheese sandwiches!

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  38. Food bloggers are not allowed to be criticized? I don't get it. If you are going to put yourself out in the public eye like this you have to be prepared to take criticism. Wells wrote an article on food blogs, he pointed out what he likes and what he doesn't like. What's wrong with that? Don't any of you critique restaurants on your blogs? I like your blog, but your whole attitude towards this Wells article is childish and unprofessional.

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  39. Hi Kayln! I must have been out of the loop for a while as today is the first I've heard of both Well's article and the uproar that ensued. Great job on the wrap up and putting a postive and delish spin on the situation. I'll have a cheese sandwich tonight and raise my glass of Proseco to you all.
    Cheers!

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  40. Hi Kalyn,
    here's my contribution to the cheese sandwich day. I'm sorry, but it's in german.

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  43. I am here, a year later, to celebrate. Come see my meager tribute at I'm Mad and I Eat.
    Good goin', Kalyn.

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  44. Hello,
    I would just like to say that Cheese Sandwiches are very interesting. I am a Cheese Person living in Wensleydale Vale and we are all interesting here. Well maybe not Freddie Feta.
    www.cheesepeople.co.uk
    Nice blog by the way
    Regards
    Charlie Cheshire

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  45. The comment can be taken as a COMPLIMENT. Your blog is obviously big enough to be on the food blogging radar and criticism from somewhere is often a sign the someone has made it ! Think of every celebrity ..... only the ones you don't KNOW are the ones who never get criticised. Congrats on becoming " seen " !

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  46. That was a fun event and so interesting historically.
    I was very new in blogging then. I did do a sandwich but it was lost in cyber-space when I lost my hard drive.
    You really did a lovely job on this one Kalyn!

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Thanks for joining the conversation! I love hearing from readers and even though I can't always reply to every comment, I will always answer specific questions on a recipe as soon as possible. Sometimes I'm answering by iPhone, so my replies may be short!

Comments don't appear on the blog until they're approved by me, so no need to try again if you don't see it! Feel free make your signature a link to your site if you're a blogger, but links posted within the body of the comment will never be published.

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